Or… The Case For Abusing NaNoWriMo.

For those of you who don’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month. This time of year, hundreds of thousands of amateur and professional writers are gearing up for the arguably ludicrous task of writing 50,000 words in a month. That’s 1,667 words per day, if you were wondering.

Now, I just realized that I forgot to post that I finished my first novel in June, about two months before I predicted I would. Oops. Well, congratulations to me. Anyway, that’s done, and I’m working on a new project, which I’m a about 23,000 words into. I’m aiming for about 85,000 words, which is close to the same length as Jim Butcher’s first Dresden Files book, Storm Front.  It’s October 22, and I’ll probably get at another 5,000 words in the next week or so. Maybe a bit more, if I stop lurking around the NaNoWriMo forums and wondering what I’m going to cook next week.

An additional 50,000 words would bring me pretty damn close to finishing this project, about three months ahead of schedule.

Right now I’m working at my typical 1,000 words-a-weekday pace. It’s a puttering pace, to be frank, one that allows me to run all the household errands, cook a few delicious dinners a week, work out at the gym whenever I choose, and spend way too much time thinking, “This novel is crap, the mystery is thin, and I’m blending too many genres.” I know that if I worked harder, I could write faster.

Enter NaNoWriMo.

As a professional writer, I’ve been watching NaNoWriMo from the sidelines for several years. My friend Evil Goodwin, known by his friends as Satan, tackled the project and is doing it again this year. Another friend whose blog I won’t post without approval is doing it, too. (Sorry, Satan, I don’t want your approval.) My aunt did it last year, and she’s a super busy lady who runs her own very successful business. I looked on at those trying it, with them in spirit, and said, “I don’t want to rush it. I think it would stress me out too much. I’d rather focus on quality rather than quantity.”

Well, that’s a bunch of crap. First drafts need to get written, and the quicker the better, especially when your 30th birthday is out there lurking somewhere in the future and you’ve been technically unemployed for a year now.

The rules of NaNoWriMo say you have to start completely from scratch. They also say, and I’m paraphrasing here, that writing something entirely new and pulling stuff out of your ass as you go will make you more creative and lead to better work.

Well, that’s a bunch of crap, too.

I’ve been agonizing over this draft, and a little flying by the seat of my pants will do me some good. I have an outline, but I need to work freely within it. I need to tell the inner critic to shut the hell up and wait till the first draft is done before editing.

And I think writing 1,667 words a day, every day for the length of November is the way to shut her up. She’s a bitch, but it’s fairly easy to outrun her… she spends most of her time sitting on the couch, complaining, so she’s in pretty bad shape.

Anyway, I’m in for this year’s NaNoWriMo. Look me up. My user name is Kristin Lynn. We’ll be writing buddies. I’ll post a word counter on this blog once one is available and I feel like figuring out how to hijack my WordPress account.

The big question is this, though… Should the special writing mug I buy have penguins on it, or something less seasonal?

9 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo

  1. Penguins are always in season, in my opinion.

    I’ve toyed with the idea of digging into NaNoWriMo for some time now. I write pretty prolifically in general, so there have been many months where I top 50,000 words in a month. (God, that still sounds like a lot though…) It never seems to fall within the November timeline, though.

    This post made me ponder. I am midway through revising my novel, and the second one is almost done as well. 50,000 words could be put to good use finishing book two and digging into book three of le trilogie. (I don’t think that’s even French.) Perhaps I will join you on this trek. Hm.

    • Join us, join us!

      My new self-imposed role is NaNoWriMo zombie-enabler.

      Seriously though, it would be nice to have another “rebel” on board. It seems like a great way to finish up a project double-quick, with the bonus of pep talks from famous novelists and a large community of fellow writers under the crunch.

      If you do, definitely look me up. 🙂

      • I’m not actually sure how to go about joining NaNoWriMo. But if you tell me what to do, I think I might just do it! I could use the kick in the pants of motivation.

        • It’s very easy. Just visit, click “Start here!” and sign up.

          It seems the Writing Buddies section (under My NaNoWriMo) isn’t set up yet, but let me know your user name, and we’ll connect once that’s all going.

          The forums are a little addictive and an unfortunate resource for procrastination…

          • I’ll get on that tomorrow…right now it’s a lie down to “work” off the food coma from chicken and lots of water. 🙂

    • I can arrange for penguins in hats. Hat-wearing penguins will be my official NaNoWriMo mascot!

      I’m super excited about November! Thanks for the comment.

  2. Technically, nobody calls me “Satan” anymore, and years later, I have no idea where that nickname come from 😛

    Good luck to everyone. I’m outlining like mad, and my only fear is that my story isn’t long enough.

    • I always wondered where it came from, too… It’s sort of frightening that no one knows.

      Too short, too schmort… Or something. That’s what subplots and random dead bodies are for.

      To be honest, I’m actually worried that my project isn’t long enough, either. I’m choosing not to think about that. Very healthy.

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