I have less than a week to get ready for this year’s National Novel Writing Month and I am nowhere near ready.
But that’s okay. Really. Because it doesn’t matter if I finish the month with 50,000 words in the bag, and even if by some miracle I do manage to get the word count to”win” I know from experience that most of what I churn out in NaNoWriMo will be complete drivel.
So why do it? Why agonize, put yourself through that Word Count torture, stay up late and live in the same sweats for the entire weekend (and more) if most of what you churn out is going to eventually end up in the waste bin anyway?
Because (she says, with a knowing smile) that kernel, hidden in the chaff, may just become something. Something BIG.
The first time I did NaNoWriMo, I only managed to get about 17K on paper for the month. Ninety percent of that wound up in the trash, but the time spent spewing out those wasted words helped the idea form in my mind for what would eventually become my first book. I set the files aside for a couple years after NaNoWriMo, but that initial intense push kept things bouncing around inside my head. The story grew, changed, and fleshed itself out.
When I finally reopened the file, I was ready to write my book. I am not sure that would have happened had I not been through the ordeal that is NaNoWriMo. Committing a month to focus on your ideas is really what NaNoWriMo is all about.
It’s not about finishing a book; it’s about starting one.
Whether you have a carefully planned outline, complete with pages of character descriptions and plot point, or just a wacky wonderful idea that has been nagging at the back of your brain, jump in with enthusiasm and write, write, write. Whether you end up with 5K or 50K, you will still benefit.
Here’s what I have taken away from my four previous NaNoWriMo attempts:
- You learn how to get your thoughts on paper (ok computer)
- You learn just how much time you need if you are serious about writing, and get in the habit of making that time
- Editing while writing the first draft is a bad idea – you should let the ideas come-NaNoWriMo is so short, so intense, you don’t have time to edit so it helps keep you out of edit mode
- Some really good book ideas can come from the process
- You’ll meet other local writers, future critique partners, and potential friends at the local write-ins
If you have been on the fence, give it a go. DO join local write-ins and NaNoWriMo meet ups. The support and enthusiasm help keep you going when you get bogged down. I’ll be at the Tuckerton Seaport at 6:45 PM for the Nov. 1st kickoff in Southern Ocean County. Hope to see you there, laptop in hand.