If you haven’t already guessed, I have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year. Yes, I am aware that it is cliche, and no that is not going to stop me. This is something I decided I have to do.
What Is It?
Pretty much anyone who has taken an elective writing class knows about NaNoWriMo, but for those of you who don’t know “NaNoWriMo” stands for “National Novel Writing Month”. Every year in the month of November thousands of writers across the United States will attempt to write 50,000 words (a short novella) in 30 days. For those of you who need the math, that averages out to 1,667 words a day. For purists, you would start with a completely blank slate and attempt to write an entire draft of a novel between Nov. 1st and Nov 30th. Not everyone is quite so set on the rules. NaNoWriMo is personal and can be adjusted to each writer’s own personal goals and needs. Some choose to write a collection of short stories, some complete a novel they already started, or decide to write half as many words, or twice as many goals. Really the whole point is to get you writing.
How Does This Work?
Once again, this is all very personal. There isn’t some sign-up sheet you have to fill out, though there are a lot of writing clubs you can join for support. Really, all you have to do is tell yourself “I am doing NaNoWriMo” and that’s it. Personally, I find it easier to stick to it if you find a writing buddy. I enlisted my friend Sharon to keep me on track. She will check in on me to make sure I am writing, and I will check in on her. I can’t trust myself to stick to it if I don’t have someone to hold me accountable.
My Game Plan:
1. The novel: I am not a purist. I am cheating my working on a novel I started years ago and never finished. This technically gives me a bit of an edge, but I still plan to do the full 50,000 words in one month. I’m just starting and stopping from at different points.
2. Prep-tober: I am taking these last few days of October to get everything set up. For me, this means transferring the old participial novel to a new platform where I can track my progress better, and creating some sort of outline for my work. I am debating whether I want to create a tracking chart and reward system. If I actually finish this novel I do want to reward myself.
3. Accountability: As I already mentioned, I have recruited Sharon to check in on me, but I will also share my progress here. The more eyes on me, the more likely I am to actually get this done. I won’t actually write my novel here, but I will let you know how the writing process is going. Hold me accountable and cheer me on! I’ll do the same for you.
4.Stopping Point: The goal of NaNoWriMo is 50,000 words, but for me that’s more of a guideline. My goal is to finish my novel’s first draft. That means that the draft may be longer or shorter. If all goes well and I finish the draft early (which I doubt) then I will start the revision process. No matter what, my end-goal is to spend the whole month on this project.
5. Goal: My goal is a completed draft of a novel. It can be longer or shorter than 50,000 words, but it will be complete. I will not have time to revise or edit as I go. What I need to do is get words on the page, and the story out of my head. This “novel” is going to be sloppy. messy, and rough, but it will be done.
Why Am I Doing This?
I will be honest with you all, that I sincerely have my doubts about my ability to do this. I am not good at completing long-term projects, and I’ve never written a story more than about 15 pages. This is doing to be hard. That’s exactly why I need to do this.
I have made half-hearted efforts at NaNoWriMo before. I always had a million reasons why I couldn’t do it: I had school, I had work, I was depressed, I was stressed, etc. I always had excuses about why I couldn’t do it, but the fact was that I didn’t really want to do it because I was too afraid to really try.
I need to prove to myself that I can do anything I put my mind to. Even if I don’t make my goal, I want to get over my fear of actually trying to complete a difficult task. Trying and failing is better than not trying at all, but as adults it wounds are pride to admit that we did our best and still fell short. If I don’t take the risk now, I’ll likely never put in the effort to finish this novel at all. What’s worse: a month of writing mania, or a lifetime with a incomplete book? To me, that’s an easy question.