Yes-sirree, the sign up for 2011 November NaNoWriMo is in full swing, and this writer just stepped to the starting line.
What is NaNoWriMo? It’s an organization that rhymes with “Mama Rhino,” dedicated to inspiring creativity in fiction by hosting an all-out assault on the written art form during the month of November. The goal is to write like your life depended on it and reach the coveted goal of 50,000 words written in just 30 days. The emphasis is on colossal, unbound, right-brain output while abandoning any attempt at polished prose. There’s no need to edit any of the words, happily allowing thousands of them to be crapola.
Yikes, what the hell have I signed up for? Is 50,000 words in 30 days really in my schedule, especially considering how much time is needed for marketing current books?
Even for the fearful newbie, like me, the concept makes sense. Forget the control-freak editor within for awhile, for a long while, and let unleashed creativity alone manage the helm. If you really can type out 50,000 words along the lines of your novel’s idea, plot, and/or characters… then it’s bound to result in some useful stuff. Once December and January roll around, you can edit to your heart’s (and left-brain’s) content. And once February arrives, you may have the makings of a darned-fine novel coming to life.
Who wins and what are the prizes? Everybody who writes 50,000 words by midnight Nov. 30th wins. They get a winner’s banner on the website and a million dollars. (Just kidding, that was their joke.) Visit the FAQs section for more info and NaNoWriMo humor, which seems to be within every paragraph.
(Side note; cheaters wanting to write non-fiction books can probably benefit too. Just don’t tell then it was my recommendation. They do have a forum page for NaNo-Rebels.)
Fortunately, NaNoWriMo has 3.5 very distinct rules, which make this a lot easier to focus on (though not easier to do):
1) It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do it! But it’s also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.
2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December and beyond. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.
3) Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.
3.5) There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.
What are my thoughts as a newbie after signing up? I’m scared, bummed a little, nervous, excited. This next novel is barely coming to me. I’ve got the characters and a few ideas for plot, but absolutely no idea on the beginning/middle/end and what I’m hoping to say with it. Alas, this is already starting to sound like a much needed exercise in creativity.
Who’s with me? Sign up and let’s be writing buddies!