I can’t believe it’s already November. Seems just yesterday my kids were discussing what to be for Halloween. Now, with thoughts bending toward Christmas, it’s hard to think of shopping when it’s 70 and sunny today in north Texas.
Today is a perfect day to write.
Today is a perfect day to begin writing a novel.
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to write a novel, there are thousands of folks out there who can say, “It only takes a month.”
I wrote my first manuscript in a month. I let the idea marinate for more than a year, but once I committed to writing it, the story flowed and a month later I had about 70,000 words in a file. They weren’t all good words, but they were there. The editing process took a lot longer and now that story is tucked away after I realized that, not unlike parenting a first child, I had learned and made my mistakes on that one. And, even though I love it dearly (again, like my first child!), it probably isn’t meant to be published. (The first-child analogy stops here; mine turned out great in spite of my pitfall-parenting.)
A few weeks ago I posed this question to my fellow women writers of this blog: Who is doing NaNo? Julie, Joan and I had met for lunch, and Julie mentioned she was going to NaNo. Having successfully completed her goal of 40K on a manuscript two years ago, she was ready to NaNo again. Having unsuccessfully participated in it last year, I was ready to try again. Joan had not tried it (although having considered it) and decided she’d up her usual writing goal in the spirit of the event.
NaNo is short-shorthand for NaNoWriMo which is shorthand for National Novel Writing Month. According to the official Web site (NaNoWriMo.org), NaNo is a fun, write-on-the-fly approach to writing a novel. Participants start November 1 (see, you are already a day behind if you haven’t started) with the goal of completing a 175-page book or 50,000 words by November 30. It began in 1999 when Chris Baty and 20 others in the San Fransisco Bay area decided to band together and each write a novel. Ten years later, the idea has grown into quite a literary free-for-all.
The goal here is quantity over quality. You don’t edit as you go, which is something I struggle with. You give yourself permission to make mistakes, take risks and embrace your reckless side. Be uninhibited. Have fun. And take comfort in the fact that there are 150,000 other crazy people in more than 90 countries doing the same.
NaNo organizers track participants' progresses via their Web site (and list fun write-ins by area), predicting an 18 percent success rate. And if you need validation that good does come out of NaNo, look no further than Sara Gruen, whose NYT best-seller Water for Elephants began as a NaNoWriMo novel.
So, we at What Women Write are all participating on some level. I know Elizabeth has already weighed in this morning with her word count for yesterday: 1862! on a new story. My goal is to finish a manuscript I started some time ago but haven’t touched for months, other than to weave it into a short story. I have about 13,000 words, so I have set a goal of completing the story—however many words it takes. Joan is going to add to her WiP (work-in-progress) and so are Susan and Kim. Julie’s goal is adding 50K words to her current manuscript.
Whenever you commit to putting words to paper, it’s more fun when you have support. Maybe you have a family member or friend who enthusiastically gives you positive reinforcement or offers a hug when the words just won’t flow. Support and encouragement can make a huge difference in your writing. If you don’t have a cheerleader or you don’t want anyone to know you are writing, finding online support via NaNo might just be what you need.
I know we’ll have a huge morale boost mid-stride when we all head to a cabin for our inaugural writing retreat. The six of us are going to hole-up for a long weekend of writing. We’ll keep you posted on our progress.
How about you…are you on board for NaNo or some version of frenzied writing for November?