Wednesday, November 01, 2006

National Novel Writing Month: NaNoWriMo

If you've looked at my sidebar - and why wouldn't you? It's a work of art! - you may have noticed the long banner proclaiming me a Participant in the 2006 National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.

I gave it a try last year, with high hopes and insufficient preparation. I failed, finishing with a meager 12,000 words. By then I was bored with what I was writing and busy with other things. But at the start I was pumped! The idea, of course, is to write 50,000 words in the space of a month. The object is to write a novel - actually part of a novel, because no publisher will pick up a 50,000 word novel. Not these days! - in a single month. For folks not interested in writing fiction, 50,000 words is the goal, too. For whatever subject they choose.

At NaNoWriMo you update your numbers, post a bit of what you have written, and encourage others to keep going. Why? Because writers are fragile creatures, easily tempted into doing other things. We're a bit like Irish Setters - easily pulled away by a shiny object. We use the slightest excuse to not write, be it taking out the garbage, suddenly needing to paint the garage, or watching that documentary on The Johnstown Flood that's showing on the PBS channel (actually I saw that some years ago. It's one of the finest documentaries I've seen, after Ken Burns' "The Civil War".) We writers will fight the need to write.

And so ... NaNoWriMo. A group effort to keep ourselves and other writers typing away at our avocation. This time around I have my outline ready, as well as a short synopsis that covers the idea I have. This morning I managed a weak 600 words, but I did have errands to run. Yes, I know. It sounds like an excuse, but I had to get my car registration, do the laundry, watch "The People's Court" and take a nap (still fighting the lingering effects of bronchitis). The point is ... I started, and I have much story rolling around in my head. So I expect to complete the effort this time.

Now, it's not too late to join, if you're so inclined. It's never too late, really. Sign up, find a forum you might like to join - you can come join the one I'm in, if you like - and get to writing. The neat thing is you don't have to write only that novel or textbook. Everything you scribble counts. And why not? It's writing. And that's the goal: to produce writing!

Some of you - very few, I'd bet - may recall that I did something similar in May of this year. I posted here and here on the subject. In that first post about PriNoWriMo - our own "Private Novel Writing Month" - I said:
Okay, whoopdeedoo, eh? So what's the point? What's the "different take"? Well, I'm glad you asked, even though you probably didn't. In the Yahoo group set up by the last session of Writopia's [FREE] f2k writing class, a discussion began regarding NaNoWriMo. A few of us had participated (I did, but didn't finish), and we were asked about it. Seems like everybody got their opinions in, whether or not they had participated. And, no, not everybody likes the idea.

One of our group asked if someone would join him as he did a something similar, writing 50,000 words, starting in May. He wanted some support, which a lot of writers need, and wondered if it would be worthwhile.

Well! I, being addicted to making web pages, and now blogs, sat down in front of my computer('cause if I sat down in the back of my computer I wouldn't get much done, y'know?) and set up a blog with the express purpose of facilitating a Novel Writing Month for our members. A sort of light-weight NaNoWriMo for our own bunch of writers. In my own extremely clever way, I named it "Private Novel Writing Month". (Yeah, yawn, but the name ain't the point, is it? LOL)

It's not a bad little site for us, and as we begin on Monday, May 1, 2006, I think it'll do us well. After all, we don't have the bells and whistles of the real thing. We aren't trying to be the real thing, either. We're just trying to see if we can dedicate enough time to accumulate 50,000 written words in a month.

Is that important? No, not as such. To make the total a writer will have to write 1613 words each day.

"Big deal," I can hear you say, "who can't do that?"

A lot of writers, I would answer. When we're "on", there isn't enough time in the whole world to write all that we need to write. I know! I've been there! For a writer, there's no more powerful feeling. None. And 1600 words is a drop in the bucket.

But when a writer is not "on" or is struggling to get the story straight in his own mind, 1600 words may as well be a million. He can't find them to write them.

So, let's give some credit to anybody who puts him/herself out there in this manner. They, and I, are trying to do something that is very hard to do for most of us. And with some support, encouragement, and quite a bit of bragging(heheheee!), the five of us who are embarking on this month-long marathon may well create the foundations of a new novel for each of us.

And how did our little attempt go? Well, with eight of us in the group, we managed to have one lady hit 102,353 words by the finish! Another fellow went to 71,000+. Three of us hit the 50,000 mark. We did what we wanted to do, which is write. And the camaraderie helped. It was fun. And useful. Now, my writings are unfinished, but that's okay. I found that I wanted to do more with it and that would take a lot of thought. What I'm attempting this time at NaNoWriMo is something I've been thinking about since I wrote my novel, which is to say a prequel. And that's what i'm starting. I won't finish it in NaNoWriMo, but I intend to get more than 50,000 words of it written.

And that's a fair start, don'cha think? Check out the links, and then why not come look at the National Novel Writing Month. You just may join!

UPDATE: 1636 words, and it should have been more. I got "Irish Settered". One of my friends managed 7526 words! Yeesh! That's bloody amazing! She must have begun shortly after midnight. What a great output! That means she has some inspiration. That means she'll hit the 50,000 mark in less than ten days! Oy!


Donna Sundblad said...

I can hear the enthusiasm in your voice! Your stoked! I believe you'll do it this year. I can't wait to find out what your writing about.

Donna Sundblad
Inspired Author

camojack said...

I'm still reading your novel...

benning said...

Birdie: As long as NaNo finally speeds up, I am stoked to the gills! Trying to post there was a beast yesterday! Good LORD! And looking at some of the totals posted explains it. A LOT of people charging ahead.

Camo: Lemme know whatcha think when you get through!

WomanHonorThyself said...

aw good on u Benning!..your motivation is so inspiring dude!..Heh..and thanks for the visits and all yer comments at my humble abode!

Brooke said...

A marathon run for the brain!

Good luck, and press on!

Joubert said...

It sounds very interesting. Maybe next year I'll have enough time to try.

Gayle said...

Patrick is a wonderful writer. I hope he does try.

Your enthusiasm is catching, but not catching enough for me to try. With everything else I can barely find the time for my own blog. But I'm not the sort who can think stuff up out of thin air, so I wouldn't be very good at it anyway. Good luck to you! :)

camojack said...

Having read approximately 100 pages of your novel so far, I will say that it has evoked emotional me, that is the "benchmark" of quality writing.

Write ON!!!

Hopalong Cassidy said...

When you become a famous novelist and appear on all the talk shows and Hollywood is calling you constantly to get the movie rights to your novels, will you still remember the "little people" and favor us with your comments?

benning said...

Why wouldn't I, Tubby? I'll always be a "little people", as far as I'm concerned. :D

Camo: Thanks! I hope it holds your interest to the end.

Thanks All! There's more research involved in this than I remembered. So I have a heap of reading to do, too. Yeesh! LOL

Anonymous said...

Good luck, best wishes, may your muse be prolific!