November is National Novel Writing Month. For the past 10 years, writers have been participating in a growing phenomenon called NaNoWriMo. It started in the San Francisco Bay area in 1999 with around two dozen participants and has grown into an international creative event with around 119,000 entrants in 2008.
To "win" NaNoWriMo, a writer must complete at least 50,000 words of a new project between November 1 and November 30--an average of 1667 words a day. What is the prize? A website badge, 50,000 shiny new words and a sense of accomplishment.
I've never done it before because the creative voice in me says, "No way. I don't write on demand like that." On further evaluation, I've realized that indeed, I do write on demand. I've written 3 novels in less than a month each, not including revisions, of course. I've edited on demand for my agent, and hope to write and edit for a publisher, so why not begin and end on an artificial deadline for NaNoWriMo?
"Creativity can't be forced." Tell that to my published friends who write for multiple houses 3, 4, 5 times a year.
The goal of NaNoWriMo is quantity, not quality, which means turning off the internal editor. This can be good or bad--or both. The better I become at my craft, the harder this is for me, but I find my story suffers sometimes due my labors over sentence structure and word choice.
When teaching English, I would tell my students, "Get the words down, then worry about formatting and cleaning it up later." (Teens like to use creative fonts and formatting when publishing on computer.) I guess I need to heed my own advice to some degree. "Get the words down." I can always edit later.
I may have to revise more than I would on a relaxed schedule, but, hey, the words will at least be there.
One feature I really like is the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's program. Being a teacher and YA writer, I'm all about getting young people into writing.
My teen daughter, who is co-authoring a middle grade mystery/suspense with me, has registered and is looking forward to the workshops and productivity inspired by the program.
Here are some cool sites and resources:
I've registered and am totally in for this year's NaNoWriMo. What about you? Tips? War stories? Links to great NaNoWriMo sites?
Let me know your thoughts on this.