Friday, October 31, 2014

November - The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (For Writers)

Tomorrow is the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and I'm working hard to get ready. I'm deep cleaning the house, stocking the pantry, and baking up a storm. By the end of today, there should be enough breakfast muffins in the freezer to get my family though November. Why all this holiday-like craziness?Because starting November 1st, I will be joining the global community of NaNoWriMo. It's a month long marathon of writing. The goal is to write 50,000 words (roughly 200 pages) of a novel in one month. 

It's a lot fun - in the way that a cross country race is fun - it's both exhausting and exhilarating. I will be too busy to wash the floors or bake chocolate-oatmeal cookies. But I will love nearly every minute. Even the ones where I’m pulling my hair out in frustration. I love it because I get a lot of work done and some of my best plot twists have come out of a NaNo month.
Here’s why NaNoing is helpful:

1) Loss of Perfectionism. Be honest. How often do you stop moving forward on your book because you didn’t like how a sentence came out? How many times have you revisited CHAPTER ONE because you just know if you get this chapter right, the rest of the story will be easier? During NaNoWriMo, there isn’t time to stress about word choice. In fact, words and phrases like, thing-a-ma-bob and that-part-of-a-plant-that-bees-land-on-and-I-just-can’t-remember-because-of-ALL-THE- COFFEE! will turn up in your novel. And that’s okay. Because you’re going to revise. The point is, after the first few days and you start falling behind, you’re going to push past your perfectionism. You will have no choice but to let your creativity go and write the story. 

2) A Boost In Creativity. Guess what happens when you lose your perfectionism? You have more freedom to create. You take more chances. Characters will start doing things and saying things that you weren’t planning on. Your story may even veer off course a little. But this is good. You are exploring with your characters - learning about them and their world. Even if an unexpected scene doesn’t end up in the final draft, you’ve still learned something about your characters and your story. Or maybe, you get lucky. Maybe you keep a gesture, or a bit of dialogue. Or perhaps the plot takes a sudden turn that makes you sit back in your seat, throw your arms up into the air as you yell, “YES!!!” Just - try not to do that if you’re writing at a coffee shop. Writing quickly forces your creativity to work overtime. You will make wrong turns. But you will also make the right ones  - turns you may not have made if you were drafting more carefully.

3) The Community. NaNoWriMo has a lot of ways to connect with other writers. You can join other NaNo writers in your region, find friends that you already know (use the Writing Buddies menu), or find new friends through your current friends (use the Buddy Of menu). Follow NaNoWriMo on Twitter - they offer writing sprints (see how many words you can get in an hour), and lots of inspiration, as well as reminders. NaNoWriMo also hosts forums with great writing tips. It’s a good place to go when you’re stuck.

4) NaNo Rebels. There are many of us, (including me this year) that are not able to draft a new novel right now. No matter how much we want to. For me, I have revisions to complete. But that shouldn’t mean that I have to miss out on the challenge and being part of the NaNoWriMo community. So, I’m going NaNo rebel. Revising is a thousand times slower than drafting so I don’t expect to hit 50,000. But as long as I meet my goal, I’ll consider it a win. 

If you write and November suddenly sounds like the most wonderful time of the year, follow this link here to NaNoWriMo.