Monday, November 01, 2010

Fancy a bit of NaNoWriMo?

A bit of what? Sounds like it could be a bit rude.

I certainly had never heard of it until last night when my curiosity was pricked by an exchange on Twitter between writers Ben Johncock and Keris Stainton. It was none of my business, but my nose got the better of me when Keris played to me what seemed to be a trump card:
Not really. Last time I just told you I got a book deal with my book. And yet you still mock.
I'd seen passing references to this Nanowrimo thing and had assumed it was some sort of a book festival.

Actually not. It's an utterly crazy scheme, running for a few years now, to encourage budding writers to write a novel of 50,000 words between 1st and 30th November. National Novel Writing Month is its full name.

Keris herself blogged about her participation this morning, which whetted my appetite some more.

I checked out the website and found an ethos that I felt very much at home with, especially point 4 of the 10 easy steps you have to do:

Begin procrastinating by reading through all the great advice and funny stories in the forums. Post some stories and questions of your own. Get excited. Get nervous. Try to rope someone else into doing this with you. Eat lots of chocolate and stockpile noveling rewards.

Procrastination is one of my biggest talents. How could this be bad for me? Only thing is I think I was supposed to have done that bit by now.

So I signed up. Not with any intention of completing the challenge this year, because it's been a long, long time since I wrote any fiction. I've been wanting to try and explore what I can do as a writer, though, to push myself out of my comfort zone of this blog. My idea for this year's NaNoWriMo was more that I'd lurk on the sidelines, cheer on others and try to pick up some tips and prepare myself for next November's challenge. It's a bit like how I am in the swimming pool - I cling to the edge, scared of drowning and watch everyone else have fun.

Having said that, there have been a whole stack of book ideas fermenting in my brain for years. Over the course of today, a couple of them have kicked their way out of my sub-conscious and are now invading my present, in a month that's quite busy enough thank you very much. Maybe I will try to write something down, even if it doesn't get finished.

As far as I can gather, the idea of NaNoWriMo is that the 30 day deadline just pushes you to create, free from any other burden than a word count and an end time. They are not expecting us to come up with the next Booker Prize winner. As the website says:

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It's all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

There are some of you out there who will say that I write a lot of crap anyway, so why should this month be any different. 

So, I will take a relaxed approach to it all and see what emerges on St Andrew's Day.

To anyone else contemplating or actually taking part in the adventure, good luck to you. Please feel free to share your experiences with me.


Helen Duffett said...

Have fun, Caron!

Jennifer Blanchard's Procrastinating Writers blog is full of helpful advice.

She's also on Twitter: @ProcrastWriter

Pamela said...

Ah NaNoWriMo. I'm 1406 words into it, I'm not sure whether I'll go all the way this year. It's great fun but I feel I should be doing other things this month.

I decided to start because I can always give it up if it gets too much later in the month, but if I didn't take part then discovered there was time/motivation/inspiration later in the month then I couldn't change my mind.

I completed last years though!

Anonymous said...

Yey Caron, glad you are joining us :-) My first time nanoing too, should be fun!

HereBeDragons said...

NaNoWriMo is fantastic! I've completed the challenge three times, although I'm not going to participate this year. (Too much going on with school). My advice: remember this is a first draft, and it can (should?) be extremely rough. Don't stop now to edit - just keep progressing through the story until you've finished. You'll have your word count, and a completed book that can later be fixed up into something readable. :)

(This is Wendy, btw, who used to live in Gullane)

Stephen Glenn said...

I knew it was coming up but was rather pre-occupied. However, after written 1000 words last night I'm in.

Cynthia said...

Enjoy Nanowrimo, Caron! I'm also doing it this year, but because i failed so miserably last year, i'm trying to push my way through it. Even got a blog documenting it all the way through 30 days. It's so difficult, but i'm assured that it's worth it in the end: sifting through the crap to find buried treasure :) x


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