Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Do You NaNo?

National Novel Writing Month (familiarly known as NaNoWriMo) is coming up. Between November 1 and 30, participants attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel. This comes to around 1,670 words a day. That's a lot of writing, and not a lot of editing. But that's the point. You have to learn to--if you're not a writer who already does this--skip over the puzzling bits and just write what comes.

I've looked over rough drafts by a couple of my friends who do this naturally. I'll be reading along, lost in the story, skipping over the rough parts because I know it's a first draft, and I'll come to a set of brackets enclosing words like [metaphor having to do with cats and mice] or [what color are his eyes?]. Or I'll come to a set of double-blank lines with: Need a scene between the sheriff and the librarian about the homeless man with the shiny shoes.

That's what I had to learn how to do last year when I did NaNo. People talk about "winning" NaNo, but it isn't a competition. There are no prizes, and there are no losers. A "winner" is just somebody who knocked out those 50,000 words on a project within those 30 days, but everyone who participates--or even considers participating--is a winner, because those are people who thought about their process. Those are people who challenged themselves or took the difficult first step of even considering challenging themselves to set and meet a goal.

I enjoy spending a whole day messing with one scene or researching a passing reference, but when I NaNo I'll have to set those pleasures aside for the time being. I'll have to write: [June Rose and LeJune have an argument about what to do next, also revealing a secret one of them didn't know about something] or [insert recipe here] or [what kind of flowers are in bloom at this time of year?] Those will be delicious little chocolates to nibble at after the seven-course meal of pounding out the story line is finished.

So...do you NaNo? Yes or no?

MA

1 comment:

Dana Fredsti said...

I do NOT nano because the one time I tried, I just got cranky. Don't know why...