Call it the insanity that rises with the changing of the clocks. Call it the sickness that takes over from being infected with inspirationitis from attending a great creative writing class. Call it the panic that sets in as I approach my thirty *cough*th birthday. Call it what you will, but this year I have signed up to NanoWriMo.
NanoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is is an annual writing challenge where participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel by November 30th (that’s 1667 words per day number crunchers!). It sound’s like madness and it is. Some will scoff that it is not possible to write a decent novel in one month but I hazard that most NanoWriMoer’s would agree. However, the purpose of the challenge is to support and encourage those who want to write to actually write. It’s there to provide the proverbial kick up the arse that many people need to get that first draft out into the world as fast as possible so that the ‘real’ work of the writer – the editing process – can get started.
So here I lay down my motivation’s for accepting this punishing challenge.
1) It separates the writers from the wannabes
50,000 words is a LOT of work. It’s especially challenging since I hope to keep up with the blog and do my writing for class and, oh yeah there is the little matter of the day job. How and ever, I do not want to be one of those bores who talks about writing all the time but never actually gets down to the business of doing it. None of this guarantees that what I write will be any good but at least I’m putting my money where my mouth is.
2) Writing a novel has always been the goal.
The clue is in the title to my blog. I have always wanted to write a novel. A proper one. From start to finish. Edited, proof-read and sent out into the publishing world with an extra pair of mittens and a packed lunch. If I’m ever going to do this I will have to get the first draft down at least. Fingers crossed Nano will get me going.
3) The first draft will invariably be crap but Nano has occasionally produced some gems.
IF I manage to hit the 50,000 word finish line and IF even 5% of what is written is salvageable to keep going with the book long after November has past, I will consider the endeavor a success. While there is no conceivable way that the thing pushed out of my body during the NanoWriMo process will resemble anything approaching a completed novel, I am encouraged by the thought that many NanoWriMoer’s past have become successful authors. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen is probably the most famous of these, but there is an encouragingly long list of published NanoWriMoer’s which goes to show that even though it is hard, it is also possible.
4) I want to know what I am like when I write quickly – as a writer and as a person.
Generally speaking I’m a slow writer. I think a lot about what I’m going to write before I ever put fingers to keyboard but when I do sit down to write I might eek out no more than a few hundred words at a go. I think part of this due to modern living and a difficulty concentrating on any one task for too long. I typically edit as I go and rarely write in a linear fashion. Instead I arrange all the pieces out on the page and then tack them together like a jigsaw puzzle until it resembles something like a cohesive piece. This is unlikely to work for NanoWriMo and I’m curious as to how I will react to it. Will my brain resist? Will I become a nightmare to live with? Or will I find a new way of working where intense bursts of writerly activity prove more productive than my normal languid pace?
So there you have it. Any other NanoWriMoer’s out there? Let me know about what motivates you in the comments below.