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Inspiration: NaNoWriMo

In case you hadn’t heard, November 2008 is NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. Not a month for celebrating the novel; rather, a month for actually writing one. From the NaNoWriMo website:

    National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30. Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

    Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

    Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

    As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

    In 2007, we had over 100,000 participants. More than 15,000 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

What an amazing event. I don’t think I can pull this off (not this year, anyway) but I would really like to try a year or two down the line. I love the concept of simply encouraging output — given the deadline, there really isn’t time for editing or hesitating over the keyboard.

Here’s how to sign up. I see from her blog that Brittany has already committed. Anyone else? (Is this actually possible with young children at home?) Brittany, please keep us apprised of your progress!

17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Cathy #

    i will not start a new one this year, but i will use brittany’s and others’ hutzpah to keep alongside the challenge with my current project. yay! go, brittany, go!

    October 21, 2008
  2. Liz #

    I did!!! I did!!!

    October 21, 2008
  3. you go, brittany! given that i have two arts festivals in november, not a chance i can participate in this as well, but i may start thinking about something for next year. sounds like a fun challenge! keep us posted, brittany!

    October 21, 2008
  4. Go, Liz! Have you done this before?? What’s your plan!?!

    October 21, 2008
  5. yeah for Liz too! I can’t wait to hear your progress!

    October 21, 2008
  6. Kristine #

    I love the concept of this. I wish I had the time to commit and pull it off.

    Good luck, Brittany and Liz!

    October 21, 2008
  7. For those of you who don’t think you can do it – you really can! Just 167 words a day. And they don’t even have to make sense. Tangential writing is welcome. The point is to write towards a goal. A good friend of mine who also does NANOWRIMO found herself debilitated by writer’s block one day mid-NANO novel and decided to just write whatever popped into her head. She came up with zombies… and not just zombies, but grits-craving, southern zombies! It’s now legendary in our local NANO group. Our motto has become “just add zombies.”

    Besides a handy writers-block breaking idea, there’s a lot to be learned from a 30 day no-holds-barred write fest. You learn a lot about your endurance as well as your ability to think on your feet. A lot of writers (myself included pre-NANOWRIMO) never get past the first few pages. You have a great concept, but lack the discipline and the drive to plow through–and sometimes that’s all writing a novel is. I did not see it that way until I participated. My NANO novel? How Home Improvement Saved My Marriage. I’ll have been working on it for three full years on November 1st. I probably should retitle it How NANOWRIMO Saved My Novel, because without the experience and the need to just keep moving and put something on the page, I don’t think I would ever have finished it.

    Just 167 words a day. I would highly encourage all of you to try it.

    October 21, 2008
  8. Brittany, I love your enthusiasm — but I’m pretty sure you mean one THOUSAND six hundred and sixty-seven words per day, if you’re going to hit 50K…

    October 21, 2008
  9. Cathy #

    even snail paced me can do 167….so, like i said, maybe next year since i’m halfway thru current project and it’s less than the nanowrimo in pg count goal. as far as i’m concerned, i’m cruising right now compared to past three years since, nope, 4 years since i started this project! next time, really, nanowrimo 2009!

    October 21, 2008
  10. Obviously I write and don’t do math. 😛 Now I have no idea what I plugged into the calculator.

    October 21, 2008
  11. I signed up a couple of weeks ago and I am freaked out 🙂 But in a good way!! I also got my husband to commit to it too. I don’t know how I am going to pull it off with work and school and life…but I am going to give it a go!!!

    October 21, 2008
  12. You can do it with children in the house, I did it twice, in 2006 and 2007. While it’s true that you “only” have to do 1,667 words a day, there will be days where you can’t write anything so it’s better to aim for something around 2,000. Writing those took me about 2 to 2 1/2 hours if I managed to just frantically write away, and not second-guess myself.

    In theory I could have written those words in the mornings before I start to work but in real life I spent most of my mornings procrastinating and feeling bad, then I worked, then I cared for my son, then I procrastinated a bit more, and then I sat down at bedtime to finally hack out my novel.

    Not the best approach. It’s also very helpful to have “catch-up days” on weekends where you just write until you’re totally exhausted.

    I really loved doing NaNo, and I would never have written my two novels without it. I only write because of deadlines, I’m afraid to say.

    I do have to tell you though that my husband made me promise to not do it again this year, because November is always crazy enough as it is without adding the drama of high-speed writing.

    I’m still not succeeding on incorporating writing into my usual life though…

    October 22, 2008
  13. Sorry for that long comment, and I even didn’t manage to say how much I loved doing NaNo, how much I would love to do it again, and that I found my writing group through it. Really, everybody should write a novel in a month. It’s crazy, but it’s fun!

    October 22, 2008
  14. Cathy #

    no apologies needed, susanne! i’m guiltier than most at the long and multiple comments.

    October 22, 2008
  15. I’m so impressed, Susanne! Since the deadline model works so well for you, is there any way that you can incorporate deadlines into your usual writing life? How about posting here on the Monday Page with your goal for the next week?

    I hope that this year’s participants will keep us posted — although I doubt that any of you will have any TIME for blogging!

    October 22, 2008
  16. Liz #

    Since last year I have had two scenes floating in my brain:

    ONE is of a crew of humanoid-type aliens on a spaceship that lands on Earth long after civilization has disappeared.

    TWO is a woman with a two-year old son who starts speaking in coherent prophetic sentences (not all the time, but enough for her to scramble to her notebook and try to piece it all together.)

    I thought that somehow these two scenes are related and I am doing NaNo to let it fly & see what happens. How am I going to weave them? I HAVE NO IDEA! Ha ha ha…. scared.

    It’s just time for me to stop feeling guilty about my kids not living a full enough life while I am immersed in a project. It’s one month of indoor play and TV. They’re 1 1/2 & 4. They don’t care, why should I? At least that’s what I’m telling myself for now.

    October 22, 2008
  17. So cool, Liz! Sounds like a Hollywood blockbuster to me…I do hope you can stop feeling guilty. A month? That’s just a fun adventure for the kids. A different routine, with an important bonus: a mother who is totally pumped! The net result will be a huge positive. That’s my bet, anyway.

    October 22, 2008

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