I guess I should mention it now, I’ll probably be spitting up a lot of content during NaNoWriMo.
National Novel Writing Month, for those that somehow don’t know, is a time of year where amateur writers of all sorts get together to write a 50,000 word novel in just the days of November. It is fun, a little stressful, but overall a liberating experience.
Liberating? Yes, because for anyone who has tried to squeeze writing a novel into a month on top of other duties, you will quickly learn that you have no time for certain extra activities. Like editing, or adjusting, or sometimes even thinking.
When NaNo comes, I usually just spit up on the paper until I’ve reached the daily word minimum (about 1,667 words). It isn’t difficult at this point in my life, but the first time I did it, like 4 years ago, it was rough. I always stopped to try editing bad sentences, tried to check my grammar, and make sure the plot was making sense.
That wasn’t a good idea. The only real plan for Nano? Give in to your story. Push and push and when you think you are at your limit, push again. The only way you will get it done, is to put your raw thoughts into your novel.
What happens if you fail at NaNo? Nothing, the failure is yours and yours alone, but it is nothing to be ashamed of. If you tried, you did what you could, that is what counts. Because if you succeed at NaNo, you also get nothing. Just a PDF of a certificate, and a forum signature banner you can use on whatever nerd websites you visit. Really you could cheat and just copy paste the same word 50,000 times. Who would know? Besides you that is.
Me, I try not to take it too seriously. I don’t write novels much these days. During my time in school, I grew so used to writing short stories that I gave up on the long form writing of my youth. I had at least two ‘novella’ when I was in high school, just from thinking one day I would be a big name writer guy.
That whole idea went to bed with my novella writing. Now I usually keep it short, contain the story in as small a medium as I can, and move on to the next story itching at the back of my brain.
NaNoWriMo lets me remind myself what a novel should feel like, and what I avoid the rest of the year.
Every year I cut my story too short. My first NaNo I resolved my original outlined plot at about 16,000 words. Needless to say, I improvised from there. The amount of BSing you can do with 50,000 words, the amount of extra scenes, developing details, and intriguing conversations, is mind blowing. So you just have to do all of it, cram every thought you have about the story into the lines. Even then, you still won’t have enough.
“But Marshall, what if I do have enough, and I finish NaNo super early?”
Write two of them, I’ve seen it done before. I hope to write one and a half this year.
Well, I will try to keep posting in here during November, and I’ll try to make sure it isn’t all just about NaNoWriMo. If I fail, I will see you all in December.