Wednesday, October 28, 2009

November is National Novel Writing Month

Have you heard about National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo? I've done it for two or three years and plan to do it again this year.

So, for those who don't know, what is NaNoWriMo? During the month of November (until midnight, November 30th - participants may need every last hour they can squeeze out of the month), the goal for each participant is to write a 175-page (50,000 word) novel. Have you ever tried to write something and found yourself stalled, worried about whether it was any good or whether anyone would actually like it? Have no fear, because NaNoWriMo is all about quantity, not quality. If you don't want to share what you've written, you don't have to. No one has to know that what you've written is awful, mind-numbing garbage. I have to say, that's kind of liberating.

Of course, even with that kind of freedom, NaNoWriMo still isn't easy. It's hard to overcome the inner critic. It's hard to make yourself type that much when you're tired, can't figure out what you're going to write next, or just don't want to type after spending your day at a computer doing homework, work, or whatever else. It gets really, really easy to say, "Sure, I'm so-and-so many words behind on my NaNoWriMo writing, but I'll get caught up." Trust me, that turns into, "I'm so far behind, I'll never get caught up - I might as well watch this YouTube video of a cat walking on a piano."

I've participated in NaNoWriMo several times, but not once have I written 50,000 words by the end of the month. So far, the best I've managed to do is 12,000. However, I'll try again. My mantra will be, "it's ok for my writing to suck." Maybe I'll write that on a post-it note and stick it somewhere near my laptop.

Some NaNoWriMo participants make this month a really social thing. They'll form a regional group, meet for writing sessions if they can, encourage each other via email. There are general NaNoWriMo encouragement emails at least once a week. One year (maybe all years, but I only really paid attention to the emails one year), these emails were written by well-known authors - I think I may still have Neil Gaiman's encouragement email saved somewhere. Although I read the emails, I never really got into the whole "region" thing. Maybe that would help, though. I signed into my account (which needed updating - Colorado Springs was still listed as my region) - it looks like the best I can do as far as regions go is the Dallas/Forth Worth one. It has 2,012 members right now.

Sometimes getting a few more words written can take help. As I've mentioned, some people get involved with the regional groups. Here's what I'll be looking into for sure:
  • Tea - I guzzle herbal tea when I'm at home on the computer writing for hours at a time. This habit started when I was in grad school. Writing papers always gave me the munchies, and I didn't have the money to snack continuously (plus, walking is, and always has been, my only form of exercise). Lacking the funds for lots of chips, cookies, and whatever else, I bought tea samplers. A box of tea takes longer for me to get through than a box of cookies.
  • Music - I am an enormous nerd. My favorite online radio station is Radio, which mostly plays J-Pop, J-Rock, and anime music. Even though I know only a handful of Japanese words, I have listened to this radio station so much that I can sing along with some of the songs. Scary, huh? This year, I think I may also give the offerings of Classical Music Library a try, once I'm able to access it off-campus (there seem to be some problems with that right now). I don't know much about classical music, so it's hard for me to think of composers or styles of music I might like, but that's where Classical Music Library's themed playlists come in handy. Today I tried "Music to Write To" (or "Music To Write With", can't remember right now) during work and really liked it.
  • Books about writing - DSL has lots of those. For starters, try the subject headings "Fiction--Technique", "Writer's block", and "Creative writing" (that one's good in a subject browse search, since there are lots of useful subdivisions, although subject keyword is good too and only a little daunting). I may have to lay off these, though - they tend to encourage me to procrastinate. Plus, these books get me to thinking about how awful my writing is, and then I start to freeze up. Not good. But I may at least try Writer's block busters [PN171 .W74 H68 2008 - still In Process, so it would need to be rushed] or something similar.
  • Fruits Basket as background noise - Fruits Basket, which started out as a manga series and was made into an anime, is a comfort series for me. I had it on in the background when I was a stressed-out undergrad working on my thesis. I always took a break to watch the episode where Shigure tried to avoid his long-suffering editor and made the poor woman think his manuscript wasn't finished yet.
Since I can't even keep up a once-a-week schedule with my book blog, I don't know how well NaNoWriMo will go this year, but I'll try.

1 comment:

  1. How fun! I've always wanted to be an author...but as the worst writer and speller in the country there is not much hope! Maybe I'll give it a shot some day.