Monday, October 26, 2009

NaNoWriMo--How it can help your writing

November 1-30 Thirty days and nights of literary abandon

If you’ve been around the writing circuit for very long, you know that next week marks the beginning of the annual NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. If you aren’t in the middle of a project or facing a deadline, I suggest you hop over to the website and sign up. There’s nothing like accountability to get the old juices flowing.

Has anyone tried this before? Someone challenged one of my writing groups to a similar exercise in June. It worked out perfectly for me. I was stalled at 25K words in a novel that was going nowhere. My premise was great. The key characters were hashed out. I knew where the book would end up. Yet nothing was happening. The challenge was exactly what I needed to dive in headfirst. By the end of the month I had added 52K to my original writing. The first draft of the book was complete! And guess what? It didn’t stink.

I solved all the major problems that had left me stymied up to that point. When you free yourself to just write and not worry about how it will come together, your subconscious mind has no choice but to take over.

What about you? Do you have a book idea that’s been pestering you for months but you don’t know where to go with it? Or you are too intimidated to tackle a project like a novel? Or you’ve had a few false starts but can’t get past the first fifty pages?

NANOWRIMO might be exactly what you’re looking for. You might surprise yourself. If nothing else, you will have the satisfaction of knowing you can do it. You can pump out 50K words in a relatively short amount of time and they may actually be something to build on.

Like so many other writers, I wonder why the powers that be chose November to begin writing a novel. November couldn’t be a worse time for most people to tackle something as daunting as a novel, with Thanksgiving and Black Friday and all the things that go into planning a holiday season.

But maybe that’s why they chose November. This way we can prove to ourselves that even amidst the busiest season of the year—with a little planning, discipline, and commitment—we can still write a novel. Or at least get a pretty good handle on it with 50 thousand words of a first draft.

The key is fastening your rear to the chair and staying there. The best thing about writing 50K words in a month is you don’t have time to edit. You don’t have time to second guess yourself or agonize over your hero's preoccupation with fighter jets and creating the perfect quiche. All you have time to do is pound out the scene and move on.

Quite liberating really. So take up the gauntlet. What have you got to lose? At the end of the month you can either be right where you are with your current novel, or you can have a solid first draft with the potential to become something worthy of submitting to a publisher.

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