Thursday, October 30, 2008

NaNoMo - Yes Or No? - National Novel Writing Month

The following post was written for my blog at www. It's a humourous, sci-fi blog that became a forum for writing about ideas and inspired this site. But the post fits quite nicely here too.


NaNoMo - Yes Or No?

The clock is ticking quickly down to the start of another NaNoMo and for once I've remembered it before it began. NaNoMo isn't baby talk for no more milk, it's National Novel Writing Month. Though truly, it has grown into an international event. You can learn more about the event at its website here.

The gist of it is this: thousands of people across the globe gather any spare scraps of time they can from their daily to power through a novel of 50, 000 words. Quality is not the point. Quantity is. The idea is to avoid editing or agonizing over plot points. That slows you down and all but guarantees your novel will languish in a an unfinished state for months and possibly years.

Going for word count only as the days rush by helps you avoid the inner editor and let the story itself take hold. Hopefully, you will end up with a first draft. And truthfully, all first drafts are crap. But once they're done, you can really see what you have and fix it. It's in the later editing stage that your gem will truly begin to shine, or not.

So NoNoMo is here every year to take away all our precious excuses and force people to just get tha dang down on paper, or on the screen. The rules are pretty straightforward:

1. Do not start your novel before Nov. 1. You may have an outline and background material but not a word of prose can be typed before the month begins. If you started early, you will always be aware that you cheated and when the going gets tough your likelihood of giving up increases. "Hell, I cheated anyway so what's the point?"

2. Do not bring in an already started novel to complete. It will be too precious to you and make the whole month painful and likely fruitless, as well.

3. You cannot collaborate on the 50, 000 words. This is a personal challenge. But you are encouraged to get your friends and family to go for their own novel so they can share the ups and downs with you. That community spirit helps you feel less alone in your battle of the words. That's why the site has community boards in all the main areas and writing events throughout the month.

These on-line and public hook-ups for people allow us to combat the sheer loneliness of writing, which is at once a wonderful escape to utilize and expand your mind, heart and soul, yet also a debilitating experience when the writing gets tough or a problem seems insurmountable. Sharing the burden can transform that agony into a wonderful experience.

Also, let your non-writing friends and loved ones be cheerleaders (and gentle needlers when your spirit is flagging). Then they too can share in your sweet, sweet victory at month's end.

4. The official site is the home of the official word count calculator. You can submit your novel privately and it will tell you how many words so far and then delete it from their server. No one reads it until you're ready for them to.

5. You can use pen and paper but you won't be able to calculate word count as easily. The site uses the honour system for that. They also give some extra time for a novel to be typed up.

That's about it. Again, no mention of quality here. They just want us to pump it out and prove to the world and ourselves that we can do it.

I know at least one friend who has done it and is likely doing it again this year. And yesterday, another friend declared her intentions to me. That's one of the great tricks of writing a novel in a single, caffeine-fueled month; the more public your declaration of intent, the more embarrassment you suffer if you give up.

The NaNoMo has discovered a fuel more powerful than the Enterprise's dilithium crystals and a Star Wars gravity well projector combined; a deadline.

I never accomplished anything without an outside deadline burning at my ass. As I've grown older , I have realized there are more people who are like me in that regard than there are robot aliens who are organized enough to do things without one. That's why I took a writing partner in the first place (along with the fact that we collaborated well, or course)... I knew I'd be too afraid of letting her down to ever not finish my share of the work.

I suspect deadline's are the key to many of mankind's greatest achievements. But I work on deadlines every day. Yet I know I don't organize my time to it's fullest potential.

Dare I try to do my work, share quality time with my wife and write the novel I never knew I had lurking within me?

Heat up the warp drive and use the sun's gravity to slingshot you forward in time and you'll know before I do! Otherwise, keep checking in and all will be revealed.

Live the adventure.

A mirror of this post and funny, sci-fi inspired blogs and cartoons can be found my other blog: