Yep, November is fast approaching (you know…again). Many writer types know that even with holiday feasting, kids being out of school, relatives coming to visit, holiday shopping, and whatever else might come down the trail, November seems to be the perfect month for eschewing the rest of humanity, huddling up in your favorite writing corner, and trying to knock out the lion’s share of a novel’s first draft.
That’s right: November, of course, is National Novel Writing Month, a 30-day odyssey of word pushing, key stabbing, stress inducing, existence questioning fun in which writer hopefuls block out most if not all distractions with the singular goal of racking up 50,000 (or more) words toward the writing of a novel.
For reasons I’m really not sure I’ll ever understand, I’ve decided to have a go at it again, this year. It helps that I have a contracted novel project with a deadline all its own, and adding the NaNoWriMo chaser gives me extra incentive to keep this particular train on its tracks. So with that in mind, here’s me throwing my hat into the ring:
It’s worth noting that I’m splitting the writing chores on this book with my hetero life mate, Kevin Dilmore, so hitting the NaNoWriMo goal should (in theory) get me in the ball park of where I need to be to write my portions of the novel. In reality, my contributions likely will end up being slightly short of that mark, but it’s a good baseline.
So, anybody else taking the plunge? If so, hook up with me on the NaNoWriMo site. If I’m feeling particularly inspired, I’ll post regular updates here and we can all report our progress, free of pressure or judging or any of that crap. We’re all friends, right?
If you’re opting to do this and it’s your first time undertaking this challenge, I’m going to throw out some hints I wrote a few years ago that can hopefully help with keeping your eyes on the prize. Check it out:
Manage your pace. You’ve got so many words to write, and so many days to write ‘em. Don’t over-think this. Figure out a words-per-day rate, and shoot for that. Take this in chunks, rather than concentrating on the 50k mark. It’ll start adding up pretty quickly. 50,000 divided by 30 days is 1,667 words a day. Sounds like a lot, right?
Now, break that down further. 250 words an hour is a figure I like to use, because that’s an old school measure for a page—give or take a dozen words or so—when you’re using Courier 12-pt font and double-spacing your manuscript. 250 words an hour isn’t a terribly stress-inducing pace, and doing that for seven hours gets you your daily quota and some extra padding, and you can do it in easy to manage chunks that you spread throughout the day. You know, one or two before work, one at lunch, one after work, and the rest in the evening. If you need or want to adjust that number up or down or how you spread it across the day, knock yourself out. The point is to find a pace that works for you on a consistent basis, but doesn’t stress you out while you’re trying to hit it.
Don’t kill yourself. Quit for the day if you hit your quota. If, on the other hand, you get froggy and write way beyond that, then give yourself a break the next day. If you miss a day, then work a bit harder over a few days to get back on pace, rather than trying to gain it all back in one chunk. Or, just recalculate a new per-day rate to absorb the words from the missed day. Again: Chunks. Pace. Consistency. Repeat.
Write now. Edit later. Your goal is to keep pushing forward, every day, all the way to the finish line, and you can’t do that if you keep going back over the stuff you already wrote. We all have an inner editor, wanting us to revise that paragraph or page we just finished, or who keeps telling us that chapter we wrote yesterday needs a rewrite. Ignore that skeevy bastard. This exercise isn’t about having a perfect, polished, ready to rock manuscript at the end of November. That’s what December’s for. So, tell that inner editor to sit down and shut his suck hole. Better yet, strap a ball gag on that mother fucker and stick him in a closet until the writing part is over.
My personal take on NaNoWriMo is that it’s a mechanism for instilling some structure and discipline to your writing routine and finding a way to integrate it with all the other shit you’ve got going on in your life. As with anything else, it can be as useful or useless as the effort you put into it. This sort of thing’s not for everybody, so if you give it an honest try and discover it’s not for you, then screw it. Find a method that better suits you.
Okay then….who’s in? Throw your name and NaNoWriMo link in the comments.