A lot has happened to me since Writing for Charity. Somewhere in that time, I got a job, went through midterms, moved, lost my mind, pulled my head out of my butt (no, not literally… that’s disgusting, what’s the matter with you?), exercised, laughed, ate brownies, and did a hell of a lot of homework. Somewhere in all that mess, I didn’t realize that the end of October was approaching. For most people, this means Halloween.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m dressing up, going to a spook alley with Sara, and finding all the excuses I can to utilize the costume that Sara and I have worked so much on. (Okay, it was Sara who worked… I just conceptualized and fretted. For anyone curious, google “Gintoki” and you should find some pictures of who I’ll be.)
But something bigger happens at the end of October; the beginning of November, or to some people, “NaNoWriMo – National Novel Writing Month”.
The basic goal of NaNoWriMo is to write and finish a 50,000 word novel in the course of the month. This goal can, of course, be adapted to your own personal needs. (For example, 50,000 words toward your 200,000 word epic novel, or five poems a week, etc.) The event is supported by a large online community that posts blogs with encouragement from NaNoWriMo representatives as well as acclaimed authors.
Let me continue by saying what NaNoWriMo isn’t. It isn’t a month where you are expected to write a good book. That’s about it. The pressure of writing a good book may kill a participant’s ability to, well, participate. Consider these points;
1. Most published novels are heavily trimmed. Brandon Sanderson often admits that he cuts the first three or so chapters of every novel he writes – and yes, he writes his novels in chronological order. First of all, that doesn’t mean that you have to. All writers are different and different things work for them. The goal here, no matter what “type” of writer you are, is to prove to yourself what you are capable of. That means a lot of what you write may go straight to the crapper in a later revision, or at least need heavy edits.
2. Most authors revise many times. From what we can tell, and I speak alongside many successful writers when I say this, we cannot discover some strange X factor that resides in the genes or brains or mutations of successful authors that enables to write everything perfectly the first time.
3. Writing is like playing piano. It isn’t a one-shot deal. You write, and like playing a song, you learned to use certain notes. Maybe those same notes can be used better, or more smoothly, but you did it, and you gained some experience. Then you play another song, or practice your scales, until you are quicker and more efficient. That is the spirit of NaNoWriMo. Let’s get some practice in.
4. You can’t tell if it’s crap yet. You may reach a point in your writing where you’re telling yourself, “This is crap, this is crap, this is crap”, and you may be right. Especially when you hit that point where those three words are covering the entire page. Yeah, that’ll up your word count, and it’ll probably get cut later… but put it in there if that’s all you can manage right now. Hell, you’re writing. The thing IS, sometimes you come back to it later and realize… “hey, this isn’t as bad as I thought it was, it just needs a small tweak”. You cannot know right away, because you’re looking at it too closely. Paint on some more of the canvas. Let it dry. Let your scent fade from it a bit. Maybe in March you can have a NaNoEdMo and have a looksie on how to make things better.
The obvious truth is that I’m writing this blog as self-encouragement. I’m hyping myself up for the event. The night of the 31st, I intend to stay up after midnight with a VAT of Cherry Coke and get a solid 1800 words in before I go to sleep, in order to get things started off “right”.
If, despite all the crazy-talk, you are interested in the idea of NaNoWriMo, check out the website. Look over the Pep Talks. Google your favorite authors with the term “Pep Talks” or “writing encouragement” or “writer advice” and see what you find. Dare to make this crazy goal. Get yourself pumped. Drink some caffeine and bounce off the walls for a while. Then let me know you’re doing it to so we can share moral support. =)