Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Novel Writing Month

Today is the kickoff of the annual National Novel Writing Month. What is it? It’s an exercise in writing in community. Thousands of writers from all over the world sign up and commit to writing 50,000 words over the course of 30 days, the month of November.

If you’re going to write every day, it’s only 1667 words/day. I prefer to write 2500/day and have the pressure off before Thanksgiving.

Why do it?

Because it makes you sit down at the page every day and commit words to paper (or screen). There are thousands of others doing it as well, at all levels of their writing lives, so there are plenty of people with whom to brainstorm, bitch and moan, and provide mutual encouragement. There are Regional Lounges, and in-person events.

You get to meet lots of people – some of them in your physical vicinity, many not – with whom you might never have crossed paths.

“I don’t have time.”

Horse hockey. The majority of people who say they “don’t have time” for Nano are the same ones who “don’t have time” to write regularly anyway. Yeah, November’s crazy. Yeah, life gets in the way and maybe this month you can’t write 50K. But it’s worth a shot. It gives you a fixed goal on deadline within a community.

“Only amateurs do it.”

Again, not so. I’ve met a lot of published writers through this. I’m a published writer, and I’m doing it. Granted, if you’re in the middle of correcting galleys for your next novel, this month is probably not a good time to start Nano. But if you’re not on a paid deadline, it’s worth a shot.

“I don’t want to be in competition with anyone.”

You’re not. The only person I’m trying to impress with this is myself. Last year, after two years of writing four serials and feeling immensely fractured, I wanted to see if I could focus enough on one piece. This year, I’m trying a genre in which I’ve never written before. When I first decided I’d do this again, I told myself it was only to stretch, and if I didn’t hit 50K, no big deal. That’s just not true. I’m pushing MYSELF to hit the mark, because that’s what I do. I’m happy for every writer who hits 50K, and I’m not going to shun any writer who doesn’t. It’s about individual striving within the support of the community.

It’s a great experience, although there are plenty of frustrations along the way. And, if you haven’t signed up already, you can still do so.

If you don’t do it this year, find out if anyone you know is doing it, and act as cheerleader. And maybe, just maybe, consider it for the future.


At 6:49 PM, Blogger Simon Haynes said...

Another published author here, also doing Nanowrimo. Sean Lindsay just interviewed me about it, too.


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