Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Count Down Begins


Excited? I am. I can't wait. Oh, that reminds me, I need to get my husband to get my Word Count Excel Spreadsheet a little more user friendly for me, though, this year.

Wait! Stop the train! You've never heard of NaNoWriMo? How can that be? Okay, I'll calm down. After all, I had never heard of it until last year either. So, here's what it is... It's a challenge. You like challenges right? Especially writer challenges, right? Well, then. This one's for you!

National Novel Writer's Month, or affectionately known as NaNoWriMo, is held every November. All you have to do is write 50,000 NEW words in one month's time. Oh, just that... WHAT?! I know. It sounds impossible. I felt that way, too. But no sweat. Believe it or not, it's doable. I came very close. I think 46,000 or 48,000 words...

The point of NaNoWriMo is not to worry about quality but to focus on quantity. Sounds backwards, right? The truth is, there's a time and place for everything. Revisions are for quality. In the words of Richard Peck, revisions are where real writers shine.... Okay, that's not a direct quote, but he said something like that at the SCBWI NJ June Conference this year.

Here' how NaNo can help... If you struggle to finish drafts, NaNoWriMo is for you! You don't have to post your new pages every day. I didn't. And don't worry about someone stealing your precious MS. When you do post, you can use the encryption button in Word. It garbles your MS up to nonsense but keeps the word count the same. What you do is you write forward. That's it. Sounds simple, right? But we all know that writing forward is sometimes the hardest thing to do. We want to go back and edit and tweak and find that perfect word to capture that pivotal moment. Again, I say, there is a time and place for everything. When writing an early draft, that is NOT the time to tweak. All you need to do - the hardest thing ever - is to write forward and do not look back.

Over at Rebecca's blog, they are discussing using NaNoWriMo to finish a project or begin a new one. I've been debating this myself lately too. I am on my sixth draft and about to begin the next revision of my WIP. This revision, I hope, is the draft that will be ready to show to agents.

However, I also have several other stories I have been outlining, but have always forced to take the backseat to my current WIP. I am thinking I might use NaNoWriMo to get a first draft done so when I do shop for an agent I will be able to say, here is a polished MS and here is a first draft and outline for another project.

Last year people told me starting a new book is the biggest kind of writer's block you can do to yourself. But I think this depends on where you are in the process of your current WIP. I don't think your should leave a project in the middle. But between drafts... I think it's a good time to get time and distance from your story. In fact, I think time and distance is just what the writer-doctor ordered.

Will you be joining NaNaWriMo this year? Will you start a new project or finish that current one?


Jeanie W said...

Last year the timing of NaNo was off for me; I was in the middle of revisions. This year it might actually work. I don't know if I could reach 50k as I'll be losing a week when a whole lot of relatives descend for Thanksgiving. But setting a goal of 25-30k might give me the kick in the pants I need to get going on my next project. I've been thinking the middle grade novel I'm plotting right now might work better as a graphic novel, in which case page count (pages being composed of both words and sketches) would be a better measure of progress. I'll keep plotting and outlining for the rest of October. Then (hopefully) by November 1st I'll know which way I'm headed.

Jennifer Major said...

Last year was my first as well and I failed miserably. This year I am going to work on my current WIP which is only about 1,000 words in so I've got a lot of work to do!

Good luck!

Sheri said...

Aha! The mystery's solved! It's nice to see your smiling face, Jeanie! Sounds like your thinking is in the right frame of mind for NaNo. NaNo is whatever you need it to be. The point is to set a goal and reach it in a month. To be vigilant about it and to vocalize it on your blog or other's so you will feel accountable. You're half way there!

Go, Jen, go! You can do it. This year you are older and wiser! You know what you are getting in to. Use the rest of October to plan - write an outline, or chapter titles, something, anything to get your through it.

A word to the wise, you are allowed to use outlines in NaNo. It really helped me. That way each day, I checked my outline and just wrote forward. I never sat there thinking, where am I going? What should I write today? I already knew. And even though outlines change as you write forward, it helped me to almost reach those golden 50,000 words.

Tick tock tick tock. Get ready. Be prepared!

PJ Hoover said...

I hope you do great!

I'll be working on revisions for the rest of the year, but plan to start of January with something new.

Amy Tate said...

For some reason it intimidates the heck out of me. I think it's a psychological thing. If I make the goal, I can do it, but if someone else sets the goal...I turn into a rebel. Not a good thing, I know. Perhaps someday I'll try it. BUT...I look forward to reading all of YOUR success with it!

Sheri said...

A new project for PJ. How exciting! We'll all be eager to hear about that.

Don't be intimidated Amy. You are still setting your goal. No one else is doing that for you. Just giving you a forum.

Sarah Hina said...

I fear NaNo like nothing else.

I Just. Can't. Do it.

Sheri, I am the slowest writer alive. This would be the ultimate test of my abilities to let go and not agonize over every stinking word. Because I do. Agonize.

That said, I'm intrigued. I'm just starting my tenth (or so) novel in the last two years. Where are all the remnants of the other nine? Incomplete and feeling unloved in my Word folder.

I need some motivation to finish something. To plan in advance, and then just let go. This could be it.

But I'm scared!

If I don't do it, the best of luck to you. I remember your dedication from last year, and admire you for it. You're so great at seeing things through!! And for inspiring us with your passion. :)

Sheri said...

Sarah, we can be NaNo buddies and I can kick your butt all the way across to the 50,000 word finish line!

Sarah Hina said...

Sheri, I'm going to try my best to give myself that much needed kick in the fanny during the next couple months! :) I'm not yet sure I'll commit to NaNo, because I have a big deadline on a non-fiction book my husband and I are co-editing.

I'm wavering, can you tell?

I do think it's a wonderful motivation. So I'm going to consider it some more. And in the meantime, try to get my $%&# together, and knock out an outline.

Thank you so much for the offer. If I were going to have a buddy, I'd love for it to be you! :)

Betsy Devany said...

You have challenged me to join this,Sheri. I tried two years ago, though I learned about it six days into November, and never made it through the entire month.
New beginnings!!!

Sheri said...

Oh Sarah, some wavering like a flag and just take the plunge! Only kidding. I shudder to think, but there comes a year or two in everyone's lives that is NaNo-less

Hey Betsy, You're on! NaNo 2010 - 50,000 words or bust!

“Personal limitation exists only in our ideas of who we are. Give up all notions of who you are and your limitations will vanish.”

- Anonymous