Once again I’ll be participating in the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). And this time I mean it!
The point of NaNoWriMo is to help people get past the blocks and barriers and hesitations and just write, dammit. Heck with editing (for now), heck with obligations and excuses for not having time, NaNoWriMo provides the excuse to write ~three pages a day, every day, for a month. If you get 50,000 words of new material (can’t work on something you’ve already been working on; you have to start fresh November 1st), you win!
What do you win? Well, I think there’s a Web image you can put on your Web site saying you completed, but otherwise, you win the pride and honor of actually writing a (small!) novel’s worth of words. I’ve tried in the past. In fact, the first time was several years ago when NaNoWriMo was hardly known about. I think I uploaded maybe 5,000 words before I stopped. Then I tried two more time more recently, and stopped before I began. But this time, I’m doin’ it! But to really get and stay motivated with the task of writing every single day no matter what, it’s helpful to really get into the mood and networking and social atmosphere NaNoWriMo helps facilitate with the tools and advice they put on their site, and connect with fellow participants who you can trade encouragement with. It’s very much like a 12-step program or something.
The one roadblock I have (in additional to blaming being too brain-dead after work each day to write) is I’m still trying to finish my current novel/Master’s thesis. If I want to graduate this December, I really needed to have it turned in already to my readers. It’s currently about 270 pages long and that’s about 150 pages more than the thesis readers tend to have to deal with. I should just take the advice of my advisor and stop it where it is, edit the existing material, tack on a summary of what’s supposed to happen, and call it good. And I’ll probably do that. Plus, I have a couple of class papers due in December that I can use as excuse to not NaNoWriMo some days–even though these are easier papers than I’ve had to write in most of my grad school career thus far.
What I’m saying is: I can’t use those as excuses. I’m doing NaNoWriMo, and I can still work on other projects–and in fact, this should help me be able to work on these projects a lot more than I currently do where after work I feel like my brain isn’t capable of scholarly thought. (Well, it still won’t be. It may actually not help with my school stuff at all, and the NaNoWriMo output quality may suck horribly.
But there’s one thing I’m keeping in mind as I participate which has been a deterrent in the past: I’m looking at this as working toward a completed work. My current novel is going to be vaguely 90,000 words long. The normal length for a novel (from novice writers) is around 80,000 to 100k. Most people say 80,000 is really as small as most publishers will consider now-a-days (have you seen how short most novels were before the late 1980s?!) But here’s the thing: one of my favorite authors, Cory Doctorow, has a 50k word novel (Eastern Standard Tribe) and a 48k word novel (Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom), and they’re fantastic! (Especially the later. EST is good but anti-climactic). A novel doesn’t have to be 80k+ words to be good.
And, as Cory and Wil Wheaton and other have proven, you don’t need to cowtow to the publishing industry in order to be published or get your work into the hands of interested people. So, this silly roadblock I created for myself that because this super-productive blast of creative writing would be an incomplete work, I shouldn’t bother participating in the structured and constrictive waste of time of NaNoWriMo, can be ignored like the drek it is.
So, here’s my NaNoWriMo profile: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/520083. If you think you may participate as well, “buddy” me. Now, all I need to do is try to figure out which plot idea I want to try to develop. 😛