NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month

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Hello all, I hope you’re all doing well today.

As I am writing this, it is the 17th November, which means I’m actually a couple of days late for writing a post about the NaNoWriMo halfway point. So, lets all do me a favour and pretend it’s the 15th all over again.

November every year is an exciting time for thousands of writers. That is already established and published authors of best-selling books, those who aren’t quite there yet and those who have never written a word before in their lives. All these wonderful, creative people will spend the month, bent over their computers in coffee shops across the world, attempting to write a minimum of 50,000 words in just 30 days. This is National Novel Writing Month; “Thirty days of literary abandon”.

This year is my first time participating in NaNoWriMo, so I thought I’d share some of my experiences up to this point.

I came into the month with a single goal; to hit the word count goal. I’m not too worried about what it is I’m writing, I just want to write. For me, the month is an exercise in writing as often and as much as I can, so that after the month is done I can attack my other projects with vigour. Because of this goal, of course, some of what I have written is rather good, and some of it is an absolute, unresolvable mess! But that’s okay. And actually, that’s kind of the point for me, that it’s okay to produce something messy, unpolished and possibly a bit crappy, the point is to write without holding back, without endlessly editing yourself and without spending 3 months on a single chapter! The editing and fixing stage comes later, beyond November.

In order to test myself in this way, I decided on a very basic idea for my novel, but did not plan it. The idea was vague. It would be based on my character from my theatre company ‘The Same, But Different’, Gylligan the Traveller. Now I say character, but really Gylligan is more of a persona than anything else, and if we want to deconstruct what exactly it is I mean by persona, we’ll have to read the first chapter of my book! Anyway, the book is sort of part auto-biography and part nonsense. I had the idea that it would have a vague narrative which follows my own life in the most basic of ways, (ie; I left home and moved to London), and then is filled out with ridiculous ideas, (ie; London is facing a large scale but harmless zombie epidemic). As well as this, the book is littered with random thoughts, ideas and philosophies that Gylligan has made up throughout his life. So pretty much, I can write whatever I want without having to make much sense. This I thought would work as a platform for me to be able to simply write without any plan, foresight or strict format/style. It also works as a way for me to experiment with how I’m writing, as I’ve only tried telling linear stories before.

This is working out pretty well for me so far. As I said, some of it is utter rubbish, but some of it is okay, and either way, I’m managing to keep up without any plan or worry about what the book should be.

So, lets talk a little bit about the logistics of NaNoWriMo. As I said, I’m pretty much keeping on target. I’ve been about a day behind since I began and every now and again drop even further back, but somehow, I’m finding time to catch myself up. That’s the best thing about the month. The fact that I know I have to keep on writing otherwise I’ll fall too far behind. This fact lurks in the back of your mind and compels you to carry on writing, and before you know it, writing has just becomes part of your daily routine. It’s funny, that before this I found it hard to make time for writing, and now that I have a goal and deadline I’m magically able to make time. This is something I’ll take with me from beyond this month, and when I go back to my other book it’ll be with a clear deadline in sight.

Another thing I’m enjoying is the community. I’m not a very social person in the digi-shere, but I’ve found great joy in the odd forum comment and other bits. The NaNoWriMo website is really good, keeping track of your progress and helping to make you feel as part of a group. I’ve read that groups of people have weekly meetups, in which I can only presume they all sit in silence, writing. This to me, sounds like a great idea, and perhaps next year I’ll try to get in on some of that. It’s good to know that you’re one of many taking part in the event, and this also helps you to carry on going.

But it is hard. I’m finding it very hard actually. Maybe because I’ve been relatively busy, maybe it’s due to my lack of a plan, but maybe it’s more to do with the fact that quite simply, writing is hard. It is horrible writing without editing as you go, and actually the knowledge that you have to write everyday can become quite stressful. I find myself fretting over word counts and forcing myself to write a certain amount, even after all inspiration has dried up for that particular day.

Overall though, it’s great to be a part of it. I’m really enjoying writing every day. I’m enjoying experimenting with what I’m writing and the way I’m writing it, but sometimes I do worry about the quality of work. Finally, I enjoy knowing that I’m just one of thousands taking part in the month.

I will write another post on NaNoWriMo at the end of the month. In the meantime, if anyone fancies it, feel free to share your thoughts and experiences of the month with me. How you are doing, how you are enjoying it, etc. It would be good to hear how fellow Wrimos (that’s what we are apparently) are doing.

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2 responses »

  1. As an inveterate, (but, thankfully, not an invertebrate) edit-to-death-as-I-go writer, NaNoWriMo has been and continues to be, a challenge. Terrified of the blank page and even blanker mind, I spent the 2 days before 1st November planning 30 chapters worth of storyline. Even though the ‘rules’ allow for this, I still feel it’s a bit of a cop out. And am I editing as I go?….uh, yeah. Not as thoroughly as I normally do but probably still too much to really enter into the spirit of the freeform writing experience. Still, it’s my first time, be gentle with me! Next year I’ll try and be brave enough to wing it. Also, I’m in the enviable position of only working part time so I pretty much have oodles of time to get the 1700 odd words down each day. I think it might actually be better to have more time constraints in order to be forced to do more stream-of-consciousness writing. Again, we’ll see what next year brings. Having said all that, I’m really enjoying the experience and think I may end up with a passable 50,000 word pulp sci-fi novella! Happy writing!

    • I think i’s ok to plan a bit, especially as you did so in such a short time. Also, scan editing is ok I’m sure! Honestly, next year I think I might plan something in a bit more detail. I think the point is to do it in whatever way best suits you.
      Can’t wait to read your novella!

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