National Novel Writing Month, AKA NaNoWriMo, gets a bad rap. I certainly used to knock it. What could you possibly accomplish in the attempt to pound out 50,000 words of new original fiction in one 30-day span, other than incoherent drivel?
I still sort of think if I attempted the above exactly as stated, that’s what I’d get. Of course, I’m a pantser, not given to overly pre-planning new writing before I start it, because the act of writing itself always transforms whatever I thought to write into what I really wanted to write. Your mileage may vary.
NaNoWriMo is still considered by many the playground of enthusiastic amateurs. Still, I’ve come to like it and look forward to it. It’s like an annual party for the novelist crowd.
I was tempted into “NaNo,” as my friends call it, watching the social energy they harnessed at that time of year–how one person’s effort made it a little easier for someone else to put the effort in themselves. My friends aren’t the type to actually gather in rooms together on November evenings with laptops and paper pads like some participants (not my preference either–I find the presence of others distracting when I’m writing). They mostly blogged about their progress and process, but the result was much the same.
I have now “NaNoed” three times in the last six years. And every year I’ve participated, I picked a project I was already working on. One time it was a few episodes of a fan fiction WIP. Another time, a fleshing-out of an original story I’d been working on for about a year. Some days, I’d let words I wrote before November slip into my word count. This year, I had fully planned to set a goal of writing only 250 words a day instead of the recommended 1,667 that gets you to 50,000 after thirty days.
In other words, I’ve learned to find NaNo useful by never following the rules. Not exactly, anyway. And the folks who bring you NaNoWriMo, the Office of Letters and Light, have embraced the people who do that. They have a forum board just for the “NaNo Rebels” to hang out in together.
Alas, this year, it doesn’t look like I’ll be in a position to do NaNoWriMo. I am scrambling to finish the next-to-last chapter of the first draft of my novel before the end of the month, and I don’t see the final chapter going any faster. I think October will get eaten up by it. I had planned to use October to plan out the second draft. My suspicion is this first draft is going to end up being expanded into three separate novels, which will require actual outlining and plotting and Time to figure out. I won’t be ready to start writing the second draft of book one by November lst.
I’m kind of bummed about this. The social energy of NaNo has got to be, like quadrupled interstellar on Twitter, which I’ve only just started using this year. Maybe I will try to blog more about the Planning and Plotting process as it is going on, and post snippets in later months when I have them.