NaNoWriMo, that is.
And the answer is most certainly yes!
For those who have never heard of NaNoWriMo, or who have and secretly wondered what the heck people were talking about, NaNoWriMo is a shortened version of National Novel Writing Month. For authors, novelists and newbies alike, its main goal is to get people to write.
The challenge is to write a 50,000 word novel in a span of one month – 30 days – and that one month is November.
It may sound challenging, and I can say from experience that it is. However, it can also be one of the most rewarding challenges to undertake.
I had heard the term NaNoWriMo years ago from a friend in college, but it wasn’t until it was brought to my attention once more last year by an author buddy of mine that I really decided to look into it. And even then I was on the fence. I’ll admit that I didn’t officially sign up until October 27th… three days before the challenge started.
I will always adhere to the mantra that as artists, we ourselves are our worst critics. I know that for a fact. It’s a good thing that we don’t physically bruise from mentally beating ourselves up over nothing because if that was the case I would be permanently black and blue. Whether it’s my drawing/digital art or the writing for my fantasy series, I can ALWAYS find something wrong and will nitpick myself into a frenzy. It’s just the way I am, and as destructive as my perfectionism can be, it unfortunately breeds some mighty fine work. When I do get something done that is. Hence the fact that I continue walking the fine line between productive genius and self destruction. If I was breeding only contempt I might have changed by now.
That being said, it took me a good six years to write the first draft of my first novel. Many of those years I wrote a grand total of 5-10 chapters. Pitiful, right?
And that’s exactly what I had spinning in my mind when my friend was urging me to try NaNoWriMo. I thought to myself “There’s no way I can write that much in a mere span of 30 days? Is that even possible?”
That right there is that annoying little voice of doubt that haunts me like a plague.
However, I decided to throw caution to the wind for once and signed up.
And let’s just say that once I started, I discovered a writing monster.
From the moment November first hit and the proverbial shotgun was fired to indicate the start of the race, I was clocking way over the 1,666 words I had calculated that I would have to write a day in order to meet the goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month. On average I banked about 4,000 words a day, even writing as much as 10,000 words a few days. It was a level of exhilaration that I hadn’t felt since I had put that last word of my first book on the page over a year prior.
So, how did I find myself going from writing 10,000 words a year to 10,000 a day?
It’s simple. I sat down and I wrote.
The basic principal of NaNoWriMo is actually just that.
You sit down and you write, unrestricted. No giving yourself time to develop plot. No time to go back and edit and nitpick. Just write. And as simple as it is, it works wonders.
I far surpassed that 50,000 word goal and actually finished the challenge at just over 100,000 words. It was an amazing feel and all the proof that I needed that I am the only one that’s ever held myself back.
Now, the challenge of NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word novel. For me that’s about a quarter of one of my novels. (The first draft of the novel I’m currently editing came in at about 240,000 words). However, you’re supposed to create a new novel and start it on November 1st. No previous writing.
For me, book one had already been completed, at least in it’s earliest stages. And I was already 100 pages into the second book. So I began the third book of my series.
The fact that the third book was one of the ones I was most looking forward to probably helped me in the long run, but in the end I had written at least half of that book in one month. And better yet was that I had explored places that I hadn’t even touched on in my outline that I threw together before November so as to have some simple idea of where I was going with the whole thing.
By throwing caution to the wind and just letting myself write, I think I allowed myself to just have fun with it – something that I haven’t really let myself do in a number of years – and I let the story and the characters do the talking and allowed them to tell me where it was all supposed to go.
Over all, NaNoWriMo was freeing. It was a superb exercise in just letting yourself have fun with writing. No professionalism, no nitpicky edits, just writing. And, after all, isn’t that what we all essentially go into writing for in the first place? Because we love to write?
When I was pushing myself with the editing and rewriting earlier in the year I think I lost sight of that. I was seeing my novel as more of a job and I was waking up finding excuses and *gasp* hating it. It actually crossed my mind a few times that I didn’t want to write anymore, and honestly, that scared the shit out of me.
So I stepped back from it. Erased my deadline. And let myself walk away for a bit this summer. I’ve written a bit here and there. Jotted down numerous conversation pieces and wrote a few lengthy passages from future books in the series, but it’s been a long time since I’ve actually written and had that thrill. So maybe this is exactly what I need.
I was arguing with myself a bit about this a few months back, trying to declare that taking this challenge on again would be taking a whole month from my editing of the first book. And yes, it will be. But what’s the difference? I’ve been rather stagnant in the writing pool all summer. One more month isn’t going to kill me.
And maybe, in the end, what I need is that thrill of raw writing.
So, to NaNo or not to NaNo?
Well, the answer is a resounding YES!
Come November 1st, I shall be starting the forth book of my Nyte-Fyre Prophecy series, currently titled “Darkness Descending”
Anybody interested in giving NaNoWriMo a shot, the web address to their official site is below:
(There’s nothing to lose. It’s free to join and you’re not punished for not finishing. There are no prizes beyond the warm fuzzy feeling of that buzz of accomplishment, but you do get some cool coupons if you finish. One is 5 free copies of your book from CreateSpace)
~ And, for anyone wanting to add me within the site, my username is: