Happy Halloween or Samhain and NaNoWriMo Eve!
Kind of a crazy day really. Little monsters will be coming to the door, begging for candy. Jack-o-lanterns will burn into the night to keep the evil wandering spirits away. And tomorrow NaNoWriMo begins (with a bang or with a whimper?).
I’ve been partially dreading the start of NaNo for about a week now because the outline of the book I’m working on has been fighting me for every chapter. Probably something to do with Mercury not knowing which direction it should be going.
I thought I’d talk to you all about why I’m doing NaNo even though this book will be my ninth complete novel.
Most people join NaNo because they need the extra push, the added pressure, the camaraderie of other writers to start writing and (hopefully) finish a book – though finishing is not necessarily the end result, the goal is to write 50k words and often, that does not make a whole novel. But getting that much done will get you into the habit of writing and realizing you can find the time. Or, maybe you’ve started a book but you just can’t seem to get it finished, maybe it’s been languishing at 20-40k words, well an extra 50k would finish that.
So, if I’ve already completed eight novels, why do I need to do NaNo? For all the same reasons a brand new writer would. I want the pressure, I want the push, but especially the camaraderie. Writing is a solitary and often lonely vocation, but having friends writing with you at the same time, all working toward the same goal can do wonders for your motivation.
I did NaNo for the first time last year and I was lucky enough that a large group of my writer friends were all doing it too. Because I did NaNo I learned about writing sprints, writing as fast as you can for small chunks of time. Usually I would only ask of myself to write 1-2k words a day, it was a slow but steady pace and I would turn out a book in about 3-4 months. Not bad, not bad at all. But with writing sprints, writing for just 20-30 mins at a time (even just 15 if someone was in a jam to squeeze out just a few words), I found that I could easily write 3.5-5k words in a day. Yes, easily. In just 2-3 hours no less. It was incredible.
Since then, that is the only way I write anymore. I no longer sit and stare at my document and write until I finally see the word count creep up. Now I call out to my writing group, see who is on line and ready to do some sprinting, and we’ll go for an hour or two, breaking up the time into 20-30 mins chunks and before I know it, I’ve written a whole week’s worth of words and I can turn out a book in 1-2 months. And the more amazing part? I’m not burned out or drained by the end of it. Instead I feel like I’ve been carried away by my story or characters’ momentum and I was just along to catch the words as they came.
So, this year, I’m joining NaNo again. I started a book the first week of Oct, but only managed to outline through chapter 9 and I wrote the end of chapter 8 last Friday and crossed the 30k mark. I’ve spent this week, and will spend the rest of it, outlining the rest of the book and on Friday I’ll start up again. If I only get the required 50k words for November, I’ll crank my book up to 80k and be just a week or two away from finishing it. But, and this is my hope, there’s always the chance I’ll write more than 50k in November and I’ll actually finish the book. Fingers crossed!
So if you’ve ever been afraid to join in on NaNo, don’t be. Everyone has been where you are and knowing you’re not alone, that you’re writing with thousands of other writers, will help you. Remember, there are thousands of reasons why you can’t finish a book, NaNo will take those reasons away and at the end of it, you’ll see that it is possible.
Enjoy the festivities tonight, have your Samhain feast, pass out the candy, hide under the covers, because NaNo is coming!