Next month is November and the National Novel Writing Month spectacular, aka NaNoWriMo. Yes, writers are lazy; why type all that shit when we don’t have to?
What is NaNoWriMo? It’s this crazy idea that in thirty days, you can bang out a 50,000-word novel. It’s a chance to take that idea swimming around in your head and birth it out into reality. Not polished perfection, mind you—that takes a much longer commitment. Since many writers suffer from butt-in-chair deficiency, NaNoWriMo is designed to force you to sit still and write.
To do this, you can formally sign up for the process at the NaNoWriMo site and participate in the contest. Or you can do it on your own, whatever. The site has forums, advice, word counters, and much more.
I hate trying to crap out first drafts. HATE HATE HATE HATE. I’m considering doing NaNoWriMo informally this year, just to finish something.
I would like to get some voice recognition software and just talk the damn thing out, like “Then Dr. Equate stabs the zombie four times—no, three—and his evil diseased brain cocktail is about to fall into the water supply! Yeah! And super spy Dirk Fabulous shows up and forces him to drink it!” Same process; no hand cramps. I can clean it up later.
The current WIP is stalled, but I think I finally figured out something that was borking my story. By borking, I mean it threw up a giant roadblock that effectively killed forward progression. This has nothing to do with the fact that my life imploded, by the way; it was a glitch in the plot.
If you want to do this, I suggest you take these next couple of weeks to prepare, if you haven’t already.
Do an outline
I get a rough concept of a book and when I’ve thought it out a bit, I write a synopsis and then break it down into scenes. Later, I use it to organize chapters. Since I tend to skip around when I write, the outline keeps me on track.
Get your life in order
My writer buddy James Allder recommended that I make sure I’m not interrupted in any way during my NNWM writing time. He’s got a good point. A break in concentration can mean death to a writing session. Shouldn’t be hard, considering I have no life right now.
If you have one, make sure you get extra crap out of the way so you can sit down at the same time every day and work.
Do a few practice sessions
You may already have a set time you write every day. If so, good for you.
If you don’t, I would suggest a practice run. Take a few days and try it out. It doesn’t matter if you’re only writing gibberish, just so you get the feel of actually working during that interval. Mind you, it’s against the rules to work on your NNWM project before the start date.
Remember it’s only a tool
You are not going to produce a complete book in one month. Let me repeat that, because it’s important: you are not going to produce a complete book in one frigging month.
A complete book, ready for publishing, will require at least another few months of editing, rewriting, polishing, submission to first/second/third readers, more editing, more polishing, etc. before you can even think about querying.
Your goal is to finish something, not write a goddamn bestseller. Use it to get your butt in the chair. When the month is over, it’s up to you to keep it there.
NaNoWriMo is only a tool. Its purpose: to make you WRITE. In a burst of uncensored, freewriting word diarrhea. Your brain will open the creativity floodgates and not even the Brain-o-pectate will stop it. At the end, you will have the bones of a book.
If I do NaNoWriMo—and I think I will—I’ll create a separate category on this blog where I can update my progress and tears. You may live through the actual process of writing (well, finishing, technically) a book along with me.
Chuck is no-holds barred. If you don’t like me saying goddamn and shit, you’ll hate him. But he knows what he’s talking about, goddamn it.
Some decent tips, even if it’s kind of an ad for the Storyist software. I prefer PageFour myself. Plain old Word is fine; you don’t have to buy anything to do NNWM.
History, rules, and more.