Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Month of Complete and Utter Insanity

Nope, I don’t mean this month. :)
  Because Irish Rose keeps mentioning it and you might be wondering what it is I am finally getting around to posting about Nanowrimo. (And offering a challenge:)  
Because your winter probably isn’t busy enough (right?) I thought I would add to the general chaos and mention The National Novel Writers’ Month.  An entire month wherein you are challenged to write a book. A book of 50,000 words.  
Photo by Simon Howden - http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/images/view_photog.php?photogid=404

Now wait! . . . . don’t freak out just yet, let me finish explaining.  
The whole premise of this challenge is very simple – to get you writing, whatever it takes. 
Don’t have a plot?
No idea where your last character came from?
Don’t think it’s even worth looking at once you’re done?
Never mind, sit back and relax because none of that matters!  I’m serious. The challenge is to write, write anything and everything no matter how choppy, nonsensical, or grammatically error filled.   If you hit writers’ block just ram right through it and don’t pay any mind to how you had to conquer it because it doesn’t matter.  Because, the idea is that if you write, and write, and write, you will get more comfortable and words will begin to flow easily.    Crazy as it sounds – it really works! 
I’ve done Nano for two years and, while the first year was hard, I did manage to scrape up 50,000 words. (Of course I had to go back and split all the can’t, hadn’t, and such to can not, had not, etcJ)  I took a break the next year but last fall I decided to try it again.
There are only a few rules, just one in fact that I can recall – Don’t have anything written down before November 1st – you can have ideas rolling around your head, even write out character sketches and a brief outline (if you’re like me and forget the brilliant story idea you had just before you fell asleep because you didn’t write it down.)  So that when you begin on the first day of Nano you start from word 1 and go from there.
You can go about it any way you like – my first Nano novel I had a vague idea before I started.  My second Nano novel the first day of November came and I sat there staring at my Word document because I didn’t really have an idea of how to start or where I wanted to go with it.  But I eventually started off and I had a blast! My story jumped all over the place, very un-proper of a novel, but I had so much fun! Even though it isn’t worth anything as a whole novel there are plenty of little bits in it that I could take from and start separate stories.
So, here is a short little synopsis –
Don’t write down anything before November 1st
Don’t take it too seriously, have fun with it!
Figure out a comfortable groove and stick with it if you can because the whole month is pretty much your personal preference and what you are comfortable with.

If you are interested in joining me on this little noveling adventure click HERE and create an account.  This will enable you to fill out a profile, if you like, and anything about your novel that you want to share.  
My favorite feature is the little word count box – at the end of each day you enter how many words you have written, it will add it all up through the whole month and show you on a little graph what your progress is.  There is a guidance line to help you figure out how many words need to get written each day so that you don’t get to the end and figure out you need to write 10,000 words in a single sitting to finish in time.  But, like I said, it is personal preference, if you like to stay ahead of schedule, right with the schedule, or if you work really well under pressure the graph will help you figure out where you want to be.
Another fun thing is that you can invite friends to join the insanity and gain writing buddies – you can keep track of each other’s daily writing progress and just might partake in some healthy and friendly (hopefully) competition.   Lots of people that do Nano like to make mini challenges, for example:
Write 4,000 words before having your morning cup of coffee
Write 900 words before you can pick up that book you’re dying to finish.
So if you are running out of ideas for your book give yourself or your writing buddies a challenge and see what happens. :D  
I’m not saying it will all be easy – it won’t be.  I guarantee you will hit writer’s block several times, and it is still hard to get over them, but if you close your eyes and plunge in with anything you can think of it shouldn’t be too long before the words are coming easier and you can cut that chunk of the novel out later when you go back to edit. . . . . Oh yes, that brings up another rule I forgot to mention –
DO NOT EDIT ANYTHING!!!!!!   Do not look back and read over sentences and paragraphs to see what is wrong, don’t look for repeated words in the same vicinity, do not agonize over a part you really like but want to tweak somehow to make it better – DON'T DO IT!  It will be really hard to suppress the urge to go back and change that one little part, or the structure of that sentence but perfection isn’t what the challenge is about.  It is about getting 50,000 words in all their gritty, ragged, unpolished glory – you can edit and tweak to your heart’s content in December.  
Having said that, if you stop to rest your fingers or need a minute or two to collect your thoughts and you are reading part of what you just wrote and think of something you like better you can go ahead and change it – just don’t sit there at a dead stop thinking and thinking how to fix something because that is exactly how novels get started and then abandoned, because we were obsessed with the one sentence and couldn’t move on until it was fixed.

Just one more thing I am going to mention right now –
There are forums on the Nano site – some of them are helpful, some are best stayed away from.  I just want you to know that, because of the wide array of people that do Nano every year, the forums may contain things you don’t agree with; things that offend you; and things you really don’t want to get in to.  There are moderators that keep an eye on all the threads and they do have rules so I would suggest checking out the rules and then deciding what you want to do.  But there is nothing that says you have to visit the forums at all.  :)

Okay.  Now you can freak out if you want . . . . . . . . and I hope to hear from you if you decide to take the plunge with me. I had an idea a couple months ago after no ideas what-so-ever for several months; within a couple weeks I had another idea; and now I have at least 5 story ideas rolling around in my head – so even thinking about it stimulates your brain into producing more. :)


  1. That sounds totally scary and awesome! :D Not sure if I would actually have the guts to do it, but maybe.

  2. It is great fun! (In that head-whacking-the-table sort of way:D
    Let me know if you decide to try it and I'll be a writing buddy! :)