Thursday, October 27, 2011

Do the Nano!

It could totally be a dance move! Or….. National Novel Writing Month

NaNoWriMo. It may be an odd and funny bunch of words but the meaning stands for something powerful. Every November is celebrated as NaNoWriMo where writers get together virtually at and sometimes in person with writing groups and support one another through the grueling process of writing a full-length novel in one month. Yes, it is somewhat fitting that this occasion falls just after Halloween because it is torture.

However, difficult it may sound this task is not impossible. The goal is the write a full-length novel in a month not a perfected ready to send off to your favorite agent or publisher in a month. Don’t forget that part and don’t get overwhelmed by feeling that the novel must be perfect. It can be horrible! The point is to write and allow yourself to be creative. Here are some numbers that may put anyone who might be shaking with NaNoWriMo fear at ease. My completed young adult fantasy manuscript is 94,438 words. For easy figuring lets say I wrote a pretty 95,000 words. When I divide that by 30 days in a month (that is how many days are in November) I would have had to write 3,167 words a day in the month of November to write that manuscript in a month. 95,000 words sounds like a lot but when it is broken down to just a little over 3K that isn’t bad.

NaNoWriMo is sometimes just the kick-start that many writers need. It’s that motivation. The get up and go. That instant community to help you find your feet. One word of caution; don’t get so caught up in the social factor that you become the cheerleader and forget you are the writer. Believe me I love to help others (remember I teach Write It Forward Workshops) and make friends but you need to take care of YOU.

Also, don’t get too caught up in the numbers. If your goal is to finish or “win” NaNoWriMo then of course give it your all but don’t make yourself sick over it. Honestly if you spend so much time focusing on the numbers then that is that much less time that you will be spending on your WIP. Don’t forget that you have options. You can participate in NaNoWriMo for various types of experiences.

Last year I dove in for the full experience. I was miss NaNo! Seriously. I spoke to my family in advance and told them they probably wouldn’t see me for a month except for Thanksgiving. I found that, like most things, it had its pros and cons and it all depends on the person. For me, I don’t like feeling rushed and I honestly feel now as an author with my non-fiction and now working from home full-time every month for me is NaNoWriMo. There is no month or time when I’m not writing at an intense level. That is just my job and life now. As for putting that much stress to complete a first draft in a month I only found that it made my revision process a nightmare. HOWEVER, (and yes I’m capitalizing this because it is huge) in my middle grade that I wrote during last year’s Nano I had a minor character pop out of nowhere thanks to a pure creative flow one night. Now that character is responsible for really driving the main character in his arc. Though the revision process has taken a year because it was a disaster there were several gems that came out of creative moments that I had during Nano that I may have never thought of otherwise. Without such moment this may be a completely different story.

This year I’m participating in NaNoWriMo but without the pressure. I’m supporting fellow writers and I will work on a new project but I have no plans of finishing it this month. I’m currently on deadline with my upcoming non-fiction. I’m finishing my middle grade project that already has interest and I still have freelance obligations. However, it is always fun to play with something new. I do have a new idea that I may write a few scenes for in the spirit of Nano!

You can even drag out your own Nano deadline or delay your start. I knew some writing friends last year that postponed their own “NaNoWriMo” until February. Do whatever you need to do to write.

That is the point and mission of NaNoWriMo to get writers together and writing in a community. If you need to make your own to make that happen or simply write by yourself you can do it. You can do it!


The 2012 Write-It-Forward Workshop schedule is up. Take a look at the fantastic line-up including back by popular demand, Writing Moms (March 2012) and the new Time Management for the Busy Writer (October 2012) in time for NANOWRIMO both by Natalie C. Markey.

A percentage of the profits from Markey’s ‘Caring for Your Special Needs Dog’ go to The Texas A&M Foundation to the benefit of the Neurology Section, Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinarian Medicine.

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