National Novel Writing Month begins on November 1, and I have decided to take the plunge and participate. If you are interested in joining me or just finding out enough to cheer me on, visit the website at http://nanowrimo.org/
What does all that mean?
It means I’m joining with over 300,000 writers around the world who have set a goal to begin drafting a novel on November 1, and to complete 50,000 words by 11:59 on November 30.
Why 50,000 words?
Because it is the minimum length of a short novel.
How on earth can anyone write a novel in a month?
It’s actually only a draft–an unedited, unrevised flow of ideas with a beginning, middle, and end. Nevertheless, it is a daunting goal, which translates into the writing of about 1,666 words a day.
I have an idea that in order to meet my word count, I’ll probably be writing sentences like “It was a long, long, long, long time ago,” and giving my characters last names like Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff.
Can you write any of the novel before November 1?
Some people have done it, but the idea is not to begin the actual manuscript prior to the starting date. Many people who have participated in NaNoWriMo say that they spend time in October preparing a rough outline of the the story and make notes on the characters and setting. If there is any research to be done, they complete that before November as well. However, some say they begin with only a seed of an idea and follow that idea where it leads. I’ve read accounts of participants ditching their original idea half way through the month and then completing a new story in only two weeks.
Much of what participants are posting on Twitter and Facebook relates to how they are preparing themselves mentally for the challenge–e.g., getting their work spaces ready, downloading playlists of favorite tunes, and stocking up on soup, comfort food, and sweets.
So far, I have spent preparation time outlining my story and identifying the major characters. The novel is loosely based on my family’s move in 1961 to Birmingham, Alabama, and our adjustment to life in the affluent community of Mountain Brook, during the height of the Cold War and surrounded by events of the Civil Rights Movement which played out at our very doorsteps. It is a compelling story and I hope to complete at least an ugly draft of it during the November marathon.
What support is out there for a reluctant first-time participant?
The NaNoWriMo website offers lots of support and encouragement, beginning with October Na-No-Prep and throughout the actual month of writing.
There is also daily support on social media–Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest–in the form of motivational quotes, tips for getting prepared, and stories of successes and failures.
And, there is the psychological support of joining a huge throng of people who believe in the transformational power of writing and are simultaneously seeking to complete a novel from beginning to end, within a prescribed time and framework. Misery loves company!
Many who have tried and succeeded report that NaNoWriMo has been a valuable creative experience that motivated them to revise, edit, and publish their novels. However, an even greater number report that they fell short of the 50,000 word goal in the past, and are returning to try again this year. It seems the key ingredient is effort and that the only way to fail at NaNoWriMo is not to try at all.
For the remainder of October, I’ll be blogging on the count-down to National Novel Writing Month. Once November begins, I’ll post my progress and ask for your support to cheer me on.
I’ll also keep you posted on the progress of my upcoming novel, In the Fullness of Time, which I hope to publish early in 2017. I just received the first edit of the manuscript from my Kirkus editor and have already begun making the suggested revisions. (I’d almost rather have a root canal than spend time revising. So tedious!)
I’m still working to update this site as promised in my blog on September 17. http://www.fortheloveofwriting.net/off-the-grid/. Hopefully, you’ll see the improvements long before the publication of my next book.