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Goodness! Did you look at the date today? November is RIGHT THERE! And, with November, another NaNoWriMo!
Are you participating this year? After barely making it a week in 2008, winning in 2009, and then failing in 2010, I’m looking to continue the pattern with a win in 2011. I’m changing it up a little bit this year, however. Instead of one long work, I’m setting the goal of 10 shorts with a combined total of 50,000 words or more. With an average of 5,000 words each, I’m hoping it might make it a bit easier to accomplish the 50,000 word goal. It sure makes it sound easier. I only have to do 10, 5,000 word short stories!
I think, technically, the purists will hang me for not sticking to the letter of the law and doing one long work, but if you think about it, 10 shorts is more than enough for a collection, and a collection is one long work. Sorta. I see it as bending the rules rather than breaking them. Besides, the goal is to write. And, if that’s how I get it done, then so be it.
So? Spill it! What are you planning to write for NaNoWriMo?
So, here we are on the 9th of November. 9 days into the month of November. Day 9 of 30 in November. Luckily for you, I’m not counting blog posts in my word count for Nanowrimo and will stop with that now. I am, however, participating in nano this year. Last year, I managed to not only participate, but to also win! Ok, so winning doesn’t really get you anything more than bragging rights, but still. Last night, I managed to exceed 10,000 words. It seems like a lot until you stop to think that it’s only 20% of the goal. Plenty to do and write from now until the end of the month.
I’m using a new (to me) tool this year. I decided to give the new Scrivener for Windows a try and see if I liked it any better than ywriter. So far, I can’t really say I prefer one over the other. Scrivener has a lot more of the details that might be really nice for future projects where I’m actually organized. I think it would be particularly useful for a non-fiction work. So, maybe I’ll give one of those a try after nano this year. Right now it’s in beta until at least December 12th, so you can give it a test drive for free. As an added bit of bonus, if you win (50,000+ words) nano this year and verify it, you’ll get a coupon for 50% off the full license when it’s released early next year. For future use, ywriter is free, so that might make a bit of a difference. We’ll see.
If you’re participating in nano this year, please add me as a buddy. Leave a comment here with your profile link and I’ll add you too! I try and go through and find the ones that have added me on the nano site, but they haven’t made that all that easy, so it’s easier if I just have the direct link. Here’s my profile.
There’s always a ton of writing advice floating around the internet, and there is certainly no shortage of books on writing. I touched on that a little the other day in talking about a post by John Scalzi. One thing that they almost always have in common is the advice that you “just have to write”. Always be writing.
In all honesty, I should be the last one spouting this advice about. I’m one of those people who hasn’t made it a priority to find make the time to write. That’s the core difference I think. If you think of it as “finding” the time to write, you won’t. If you, instead, think of it as making the time to write, you have a much better chance of actually doing some writing. What you write, I think, doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that you wrote. If, at the very least, you use a daily writing prompt of some sort to push you to write, that is a start. It’s something.
Does it work? Sure it does. Looking back at my experience during NaNoWriMo last year, I can say for sure that it does work. I won. I wrote over 50,000 words in the month of November 2009. Since then, when I didn’t have that extra little bit of external push? I don’t have an official count, but my guess would be something around 10,000 words. In eleven months. Why? Because I haven’t made the effort to write something everyday like I did during NaNo.
As November creeps closer this year, I’m beginning to prepare for NaNo again. Things are busier this year, and I have a number of ready made excuses for not hitting that 50,000 mark. But, I’m going to do it. And then, I’m going to try and finish the year off strong. Maybe not with a 50k a month writing habit, but maybe something like 10,000 words a month. That’s less than 350 words a day. I know that on a slower day in November I easily wrote 1000 words. I can do it.
If you’re serious about becoming a writer, you’ve got to write regularly. Make the commitment to it. Do something like NaNo. November is a busy month, so if it won’t work for you, try it in January or February. Bust your word processors balls and write 50,000 words in a month. I think you’ll be surprised where you make time to write.
I think I may be finally reaching the way down deep bottom of the valley that came on November 28th. That was the day that I hit 50,000 words. I started on November 1 and made just under 52,000 by the end of November. And what a rush! But, oh, what a fall that comes after you hit that 50,000 words.
After spending 30 straight days with your budding novel, you are suddenly free from any solid goals. And without any new ones, you are likely to stagnate. You’ll read a few people who claim that taking the month of December off can be good. It gives you a bit of space from the act of writing the novel and gives your mind some time to digest it fully and begin to weave in new threads that will allow you to finish the novel. (That may be true, actually.)
But, if you’ve just spent 30 days of solid writing, don’t just stop altogether. I did, and wish I hadn’t. I went from averaging over 1500 words a day to only writing 1500 in the entire month. (Unless you count blog posts like this one. It’s a different category for me.) I should have picked up on some other story or started something new. The effect here is that I now have to try and force myself back into the flow of things. Ugh.
Enough meandering around that though.
Reflecting back on NaNoWriMo 2009, there are several amazingly good things that came out of it for me. Of course, the most important and amazing of it all is that I won by writing 50,000 words. I also learned some very important things about my self and my work as a writer. I’ve written, off and on, for many years, but never with any seriousness. And I am very much still an amateur. There is so much to this writing thing that I don’t know and that I need to know. I’m positive that I’ve only scratched the surface of it.
I used to think that writing was just something you did. That very little thought should go into it and it will just flow along on it’s own and come out the other end perfect. Boy, was I delusional. There are moments where the story and its characters flow right off the ends of your fingers and you don’t even have to think about what’s going on to write it. They are not nearly as frequent as they should be. And the end result after 50,000 words and 30 days? Trash. Well, not literally. I have no intention of actually trashing the thing. But, as I read back over it, there are plot holes everywhere, expansive gaps that leave me wondering just where the plot went. Some of the dialogue is spectacular (If I say so myself), but quite a bit of it is very rough and clumsy. There are vast sections of the novel where I do a great bit of telling without one speck of showing. And there are more than one character who turned out flat.
Looking at that long list, I have to remind myself that the inner editor in us all will be the most critical of any editor.
And after it’s all said and done, I’m thankful for the experience. And it may take me until next October to be forgettful enough of the whole thing to be crazy enough to try that hectic schedule again. But, I probably will. After all, writing is what it’s all about, and that’s the fun part.