Friday, October 14, 2011
NaNoWriMo 2011 (For Dummies)
I signed up for NaNoWriMo 2011. Crazy and disjointed? Sure, but hey--why not? This is the year when I decided to take writing seriously, hone my skills, really get into the whole experience of being a writer. Well then, NaNoWriMo it is.
Yeah, it took me a while to figure out exactly what NaNoWriMo is. I heard people mention it, read it here and there, and was mystified. Then somewhere I found the definition: NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth. Ah! Eureka, huh? So a bunch of people get together and have a month-long celebration of... writing novels? Wow. Exciting. Oh, but I was so wrong.
See, NaNoWriMo, which always happens in November every year, is not a celebration--not like Women's Day or Labor Day or Banned Books Week. No, NaNoWriMo is a marathon for novel writers. From the first day of the month until the last, novel writers from around the world will pledge to write 50,000 words towards a novel. That's around 1667 words per day--no breaks, no weekends, no days off. I've heard people say there's not even time to sleep during November, and there's real glee in their voice when they say this.
For those of you who have no frame of reference as to how much, exactly, 50,000 words is, let me tell you that a "normal" novel (let's say The DaVinci Code, or most thrillers and romances) is about 90,000 words long. Mind you, that's an average. A work of 50,000 is more of a novella, really. But no one expects the thing to be actually finished (edited, polished, reviewed and revised the hundreds of times it needs in order to be published) by Nov. 30th. No; see, the point of NaNoWriMo is simply to WRITE. No going back to edit, no fixing plot holes, no analyzing character arcs or thematic development. Just the writer and her keyboard, clicking away to increase word count.
Of course content matters. Anyone--ok, maybe not anyone--can sit down and type 1,667 words a day... By copying them from Wikipedia, for example. Or a favorite book. Or simply (and this is actually addressed in the site's FAQ, incredibly) typing the same word 50,000. Aside from the knuckleheadedness of this, who'd have the stamina to do that? Whatever. If it's in the FAQ I'm sure someone either did it or brought it up. People, huh?
But I digress.
What happens on November 30th? Every single one of the participating writers (Wrimos. Yes, really.) will upload their work to the site's word count verifier. If it's 50,000 or more, you WIN! What do you win, you ask? Well, duh. You have a NOVEL (or draft zero for it, anyway) in your hands. And you have the satisfaction of knowing you can, indeed, write 50,000 words (or more) in 30 days, if you really want to. Oh, and the NaNoWriMo people will email you a PDF certificate to attest your achievement. Now inn't that cool?
Above all, NaNoWriMo is about two things: a personal challenge of discipline and stamina, and a fun environment full of other (crazy) writers like you that interact in forums and set quirky rules for each other ("include a bloodied handprint in your novel today", or some such thing). It's about the networking, sure, but it's mostly about the fun. Let's see where I stand on the "fun" part come November 15.
So. NaNoWriMo. If I finish, this will be Novel # 2. I have no idea what to write about, to tell the truth. Sure, I have a few ideas kinda floating around in my head, but nothing real. No outlines, for sure. In true pantster fashion (for more on pantsters click here) I'm going to wing it. Or maybe, seeing I still have 16 days to rethink this, maybe I'll try a bit of plotting for a change. We'll see.
However this goes, whatever happens, I'm really psyched about this. If you're participating look me up: I'm signed up with my name, Guilie.