So I did NaNoWriMo for the first time this year…
If you’re not already familiar with it, NaNoWriMo stands for “National Novel Writing Month.” Basically, it’s a big excuse to go write ‘that book’ you’re always saying you’re going to write…
The official ‘rules’ are to write 50k words (basically a novella, or short novel, think The Great Gatsby length) within the month of November. Personally, I’m doing a modified version – working on a manuscript I’d already started in September, and trying to get it to a full length, 90k draft.
From what I’ve been reading lately, some writers are very pro NanNo; others find it a bit of a gimmick, or even counterproductive, if writing this way goes against your writing process.
Personally, even if I don’t “win” nano (i.e. hit 50k fresh words by 11/30) I’m still writing more words than I otherwise would have. And heck, whatever gets you to write more words is a good thing!
The best thing about NaNoWriMo in my limited experience thus far is the camaraderie. Writing novels can get lonely. Seeing my “writing buddies” on NaNo, whether real life writer friends or internet writing buddies I’ve met on the forums from all over the globe, checking in and increasing their word counts daily, gives me this sense of community. Writing is the most solitary of activities, and yet we’re all in this together: all sitting down at our computers each day to do battle with the forces of procrastination and inertia and self-doubt, and to lean in and listen hard to the whisperings of our characters, our muses, and our deepest selves.
So that’s my high-minded defense of NaNoWriMo. My low brow defense is that it makes writing a novel kind of akin to online gaming – you race to get to the next level with your novel and they give all sorts of badges on completing various manuscript milestones. Plus seeing everyone else posting their word counts makes me feel like a gauntlet has been thrown – and instead of calling it quits for the day, I’ll go back to my desk and bang out another thousand words – because, game on!
Like I said before, whatever gets you to write more words is a good thing J
I know November is almost up, but if anyone reading this is already doing NaNo, feel free to add me as a “writing buddy” – I’m on there as ruthvincent (all lower case, one word.) If you haven’t yet taken the plunge – check out the site: www.nanowrimo.org. November isn’t over yet J