The time is near for writers everywhere (or wanna-be’s) to cast off their daily responsibilities, shun family and friends, and do the unthinkable- write a complete novel in just 30 days. Not possible, you say? Of course it is, and thousands of writers prove it every November!
What is this organized chaos I speak of? Why it’s NaNoWriMo of course. For those not in the know, that quirky little abbreviation stands for National Novel Writing Month. Every Novemeber writers pledge to write a novel, which in this case is defined as having at least 50,000 words. That’s actually a “thin” novel by traditional publishing standards, but it will give you solid bones to work with when the edits start later.
The sponsoring site, NaNoWriMo.org let’s you create a free account, input a little info about yourself and effectively gives you a novel page where you can update your word count ticker, view the progress of your friends and scour the forums for support, inspiration, or answers to the ever-cropping-up plot problems along the way.
I’ve participated in NaNo two years, one of which I “won” or crossed the 50,000 word mark and the other (my first year) it never really got off the ground. That’s probably because I tried to write as I normally do, from the seat of my pants and lost steam quickly. My second attempt went much better because I had an outline of sorts.
For my second attempt at NaNo I used Scrivener, which let me draft index cards for tentative chapters so that when I sat down to write each evening I had a clear path charted ahead. That was extremely helpful considering that I always have family up to visit from South Carolina for the first two weeks of the month. And then there’s the distraction of Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Christmas prep. Yes, I know. That sounds like a lot to cope with.
It is. And it also isn’t.
To reach your goal of 50,000 words you must churn out 1,667 words per day. I have emails that are longer than that. The trick is to meet that daily goal each and every day, lest you find yourself like I was last time- with three days left and still short almost 20,000 words. I barely remember that weekend.
But I made it! And there’s really nothing like pulling it off. Who knows, you might even get a marketable novel out of it! Now, time to start plotting my NaNo project 🙂