Sounds like some kind of spell from Harry Potter, right? Or a new hoppin’ restaurant up at the Summit.
Nope, guess again. It’s a masochist’s dream—wait, no, let me rephrase that—it’s a masochist-writer’s dream. It stands for “National Novel Writing Month,” and let me just copy the following from the official NaNoWriMo site for better wording than I’d provide: “Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30.”
Wow. 50,000 words is a lot. For perspective, my senior seminar paper was 20 pages and 6,745 words. NaNoWriMo is 7.4 times that amount. MY SANITY IS IN THERE! This is the first year I’ll have to actually do it, since of course I’m taking the year off from school, and November’s always a hectic time in college.
But it’s really not all that intimidating. First of all, no one has to read your terrible first draft of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants writing. It’s not a judged contest, and there’s no ONE winner. If you finish by 11:59:59 on 30 November, you’re a winner along with others who finish by 11:59:59 on 30 November. The site’s about page even says, “Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. This approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.”
I don’t think I’ve ever written something creative with an outline typed out (or even really thought out). I’m a very “write as you go” person, even with papers. I think I’ve stuck to an outline for an academic paper in college, like, three times. Ever. See, the thing is, I can make an outline, but sticking to it is a whole other thing. It’s kind of a lucky strike for me to sit down and say, “Oh, well this outline works well because I can elaborate on everything I outlined!”
To me, when you write, something can hit you (cue image of New Idea hitting me on the head with a skillet, Looney Tunes style) and completely derail your argument or train of thought. It’s always a crapshoot; this idea could be the most brilliant thing you’ve ever thought of (I love those, especially in writing academic papers), or it could be a complete waste of time and, whoops, congratulations, now you have to delete three pages of what you thought was something awesome but was actually going nowhere—and, since I’m wordy, it can sometimes be longer than that.
The point is, I have a little bit of my story details thought up and kind of planned out…ish. I have the main character, though she’s nameless as of yet, the setting…kinda (no real year or city yet), and a vague shadowy idea of another main-ish character, and two specific events, but that’s it. For a 50,000-word novel. For 175 pages. A novel (well, a draft).
That’s ridiculous, even though it’s only August and I still have three months before starting, but still. I kind of like the thrill of not knowing where exactly the characters will lead me, what they’ll say or what kind of life-shattering, destiny-changing or –fulfilling conclusions or realizations they’ll come to. I thrive on that kind of stuff in writing creatively.
I followed a tumblr just yesterday called ‘Writing Advice.’ And so far, it’s amazing. I think it’s really what got me writing even this. I knew I was going to write a blog post about NaNoWriMo and announcing the Big News, but I didn’t really feel up to it just yet. And it REALLY surprised me that I did after work, but it just sparked something in me, I guess.
So bring it, NaNoWriMo…well, in three months. Please don’t come any faster already, okay?
I’ll keep this blog updated with my progress! There are all kinds of online trackers to record how much you’ve done, how much percent-wise you’re done, how far you’ve left to go, all that kind of good stuff, so I’ll be tagging everything with ‘nanowrimo’ if you want to follow along! If you’re doing NaNo too, let’s add each other on the site!
LET’S DO THIS!
As John Green, author of Looking for Alaska (see this post on why I love him so much) states:
“There is no such thing as a good novel that gets written in a month. [However] I’m increasingly convinced that while no great book can be written in a month, no great book can be written in a first draft, no matter how long it takes you to write it. Books are made in revision. For all three of my novels, I have deleted more than 90% of the first draft. And everything that people like about my books emerges in later drafts.”
Well, crappy draft, here I come…in three months!