Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Wednesday Words: OK to Not NaNo

Friday is November 1st, marking the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. The task for participants? Write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel all in 30 days. That's an average of 2000 words a day. Which is about four to five pages because the average double-spaced page holds 400-500 words.

That's a lot of words. Every day. No breaks. No days off. Or if you do take days off, you best be prepared to make up for it later.

Some people live for this. They work better under pressure. They love the thrill of the deadline, the hugeness of the task, of writing with reckless abandon and that since it's just a first draft, there are no rules except to keep on writing!

To me, it's a bit more complicated than that.

For the past two years, I've been a NaNo participant. My first year, I was working full time, in grad school, and over the course of one month, I did get in my 50,000 words. My draft wasn't "complete" until the middle of December somewhere around the 60,000 word mark, but I did it. And I haven't read it since. I tried, believe me, but I couldn't. It was just such a mess. I couldn't figure out what was going on, whatever made me think any of this was a good idea.

But maybe that's just because I had a lot on my plate, right? So last year, I tried again. No more grad school classes or homework, so there was more time in the evenings outside my job. Except I think my efforts went from bad to worse. At one point I decided that dialogue was taking too long and not working so I just didn't have any. So for 200 pages and 50,000 words, it was like a poorly written diary entry. I've never been able to bring myself to try to read that one again.

Part of me wonders if the third time could be the charm. After all, so many authors whose books I love swear by it. Marissa Meyer, author of The Lunar Chronicles, wrote the first draft of her ENTIRE SERIES in one NaNoWriMo - that's a few HUNDRED THOUSAND words. And she was in school and working and saving the planet!

So it could work for me too, right?

Oh, if wishing made it so. For the next month, Twitter will be filled with hashtags about #WordWars or #1k1hr and I will probably not be joining in this time. I've been writing for a long time, seriously for the past few years. After one novel I still believe in, my 2 NaNo tries, half of a third one that's on hiatus, and a new project I'm about to hit the ground running with, I know what works for me, and it's not NaNo. Not that much pressure to do so much so fast that I can't leave room for worrying if it's being done well. Not feeling sick on the way to Thanksgiving dinner, guilty because I didn't get my words in for the day. NaNo's for some, but don't feel bad if it's not for you. For me, November means my new project. My goal is to write every day, but maybe not 2000 words. Maybe some days I'll be that lucky. On others, I might consider a few complete sentences a win.

Moral of this post? Do what's right for you and your story. For those participating in NaNo, I wish you the best of luck in your quest. And for the rest of us, good luck to you too. =)

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