Tuesday, November 01, 2011
Ready, Set, Write!
Welcome to the first day of NaNoWriMo!
Have you written your first words yet? Yes? Way to go! Keep up the good work! No? Why not? Time's a-wastin' if you want to write 50,000 words this month, so get cracking!
I'm only half-joking about that.
I've participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2003. My first NaNo I wrote over 125,000 words. I've never duplicated that feat and my other NaNo attempts have been a bit of a mixed bag in regards to the number of words written, but I count each a success. That's because I've learned something important about my writing during each one.
My first NaNo taught me that I can write novel-length fiction. Diving into a couple of NaNos with only an idea and a couple of unformed characters taught me that I'm not a pantser. NaNo has taught me that I have to turn off the internal editor in order to get the words on paper. It's also taught me I can write fast, so long as I have a pretty good idea where I'm going, and that I can carve writing time out of just about any hour of the day when I need to.
I know the fact that NaNoWriMo is held in November drives a lot of people a little crazy. And so it should. Who wants to try to write 50,000 words in a month with one of the biggest holidays of the year? The thing is, though, if you can muster the discipline to write 50,000 words in November, of all months, then imagine what you could do in, say, March?
The real key to NaNoWriMo, at least for me, is to set a daily word goal and make sure you reach it. Then, if you can, write past it. If you break it down, 50,000 words in 30 days comes out to 1,667 words per day. That's the goal I set for myself in my first NaNo, but each day I tried to write more than that, usually doubling my goal. I told myself I was creating a cushion for the holidays, but I found when Thanksgiving came that I still managed to find time to write. Of course, by that time I didn't have to write—I'd already written something like 75,000 words—but I was having so much fun writing I didn't want to stop.
So, what's my goal this year? I need to come close to duplicating my first NaNo. I know it can be done; I've done it before. If you're looking for me this month, I'll be the one over there in the corner madly typing away at the keyboard.
If you've decided to participate in NaNoWriMo and would like to share your experience, I'm "dbw" on the NaNo site. I don't participate in the forums and I don't generally go to local write-ins, but I do try to post my word count. Just don't expect the site to be useable for the first day or so. It's kind of like most fitness centers the first couple of weeks of January—packed with people with good intentions who stop going after they realize how much hard work it is. After the first couple of days, the NaNo site generally settles down.
Good luck, all you NaNo-ers out there! Keep us updated on your progress.