Monday, October 22, 2007

National Novel Writing Month

You guys know about this? National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)? I just got an email from an old friend that mentioned it, and I recalled hearing about it in years past. Simply put, it's a group effort/challenge to spend the month of November writing a 50,000 novel (which is arguably actually novella length). You can register with them, and then you have to begin on the first and end at 12 midnight on the last day of the month. If you manage to pull it off you get... Well, I'm not sure what you get. Kudos from the organizers, I guess. Perhaps a sense of accomplishment? A project to carry on with? Or just a mess of words?...

To their credit, the organizers don't have grandiose notions about what most participants will produce. They write on their website: Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

I can dig that. As a starting point, at least.

It's received what looks like growing press attention over the years. See The Washington Post, NPR and The Boston Globe for small pieces on it.

I don't know. I sort of feel like I'm always on a writing month regime, and the word count participants have to keep up is similar to the word count I aspire to on average. BUT, true enough, I rarely feel like I accomplish what I want to by the end of any month. Fortunately, one month folds into the next and eventually they add up to something I can call a book! Perhaps there's a way to spin this in that direction, as one step toward what could become a longer journey.

Or maybe it's just some weird sort of fun. That could be enough. We need more literary "fun" in our world.

In any event, if you're prompted to try it let me know how you get on. I'd be curious...

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Blogger Gabriele Campbell said...

Lol, I sign up every year. I never manage more than 10K at best, but that's still more than my monthly average, and it's a lot of fun indeed.

7:55 PM  
Blogger Constance Brewer said...

Welcome to the party, David. *g* I did NaNo last year too - it was all Gabriele's fault, but that's another story. You get a nifty certificate to print out if you hit 50,000 words. And a gnome. I did a blog post a day about the process- good, bad, ugly and filk. It was good for writing output (blog and novel)and to kick the muse in the butt, but hopefully I've learned some internal motivation by now.

I never could have done it without outlining. Pre-NaNo I winged it, since then, I've learned the value of having a roadmap. Not that it stops me from cutting cross-country, you understand... I like the scenic route. :)

8:03 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Ah ha! So you're the types of folks that participate in this venture. That... well, that brings it up a notch in my estimation. Very interesting...

9:37 PM  
Blogger Tracy said...

Thanks to Connie, I will be venturing into the deep end of the pool and trying the NaNo this year. Also thanks to her I am using this time prior to try and prepare my roadmap for the journey.

12:15 PM  
Blogger Constance Brewer said...

Does this mean I get to harass and harangue you, Tracy? *Snaps whip experimentally*

It was worth it to me, but it's kinda like Zen. The inspiration you find in NaNo is the inspiration you put there.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

I had heard of NaNo for a couple of years, but only attempted it last year. I finished 50,000 words with a day or two to spare and then took another month of lowered productivity to actually finish the novel - a crappy vampire novel.

But it jumped started me (in sputters) of writing this year and I've written a small handful of stories, submitted them for rejection, and thought about writing a whole lot.

So, I plan on doing it again this year...this time with a light fantasy series where I touch on various fantasy cliches in different ways. I don't -want- to compare myself to Pratchett, because that would be silly, but that is the direction I am headed. Just far more straight forward.

The bottom line for me is twofold:
a) it gets me writing every day.
b) it's fun.

8:37 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

Well, sounds good to me. I dig it that you're all into this. If you get a chance at the end of the month, let me know how this year's writing went for you.

11:25 PM  
Blogger Jonathan DiMarco said...

Thanks for reminding me about NaNoWriMo -- I just signed up, a first-timer. Could be just the thing to galvanize my flabtastic writing muscles. Failing that, I could wrap an electric ab-toning belt around my head, but prior experience assures an unpleasant outcome...

Good luck to all the players...

4:45 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...

You know, you all almost have me inclined to participate in this myself. I couldn't take time off my own novel, but maybe there's some way to tie it in... In an unofficial capacity, I mean. My daily production the last year (honestly) has not been up to snuff. Perhaps a month long marathon session is just the thing I need.

I'll think about it...

2:56 PM  
Blogger AmberDear said...

That's how I wrote my thesis! I kid, I kid.

5:54 PM  
Blogger David Anthony Durham said...


So that explains it!

I kid, I kid...

11:11 PM  
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