Ah! November is finally upon us and I've thrown myself into National Novel Writing Month, fondly referred to as NaNoWriMo by the participants. Every November thousands of writers from around the world attempt to write fifty-thousand words of brand spanking new fiction in thirty days. The NaNo website offers camaraderie, support, structure and welcome distractions for writers attempting to write an average of 1667 words a day for one month.
Once I'd set aside the memoir I'd been toying with and began to wrap my mind around writing a novel, I spent much of October preparing for this writing marathon. As part of my preparation, I read the first half of No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty and did the exercises. I came away with with some character descriptions and a few ideas for conflicts in which to throw these unsuspecting victims. Baty intends for the second half of the book to be read week by week during the actual month so I am only now allowed to read that part.
I also zoomed over to NaNo veteran Lazette Gifford's website and read her free NaNo preparatory manual, It's a Jungle Out There: NaNo for the New and Insane. Lazette has written other helpful noveling books as well as a wide assortment of published novels. Her phase outline method provided a simple, helpful way to think of the story in manageable (1667 words a day) chunks.
NaNo preparation would not be complete without surfing the NaNoWriMo forums where the NaNo participants share everything from their methods of character description to their political views. Writers dare other writers to include things in their novels like exploding lipstick while other writers stick to the elements of figuring out the logistics of weekly write-ins where writers gather at a local spot to write together in person. Spending time in the forums was a great way to tick off the October days leading up to the 12:01AM November 1 kick-off time when writers officially began amassing words.
Don't let the fact that we're a day into November discourage you from joining the frenzy. In 2004, I didn't sign up for NaNo until November 6th and I still crossed the fifty-thousand word finish line in time to print off my suitable for framing NaNo certificate. Don't let lack of preparation deter you either. Many participants swear by a complete seat of the pants approach. Either way, at the end of the month, you'll still have written more words than you would have if you hadn't begun at all. I hope you'll join us.
(c)Nita Sweeney, 2008, all rights reserved