Monday, November 2, 2009

NaNo, NaNo

It's that time of year again, when thousands of wannabe novelists challenge themselves to write a whole book in 30 days. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, started 11 years ago and now has a worldwide following. The general idea behind NaNoWriMo is to encourage writers to achieve a lofty word count goal: 50,000 words. The aspiring authors blow the dust off their calculators to forecast their daily targets. As they write, the NaNoWriMo site gives them a visual representation of their work: a bar graph showing them how close, or far away, they are to completing their "NaNoNovel".

50,000 words. If that goal is reached, you would have written a 200 page book! In one month!

Sounds out of this world? Well, consider this:

A journey of a thousand sentences begins with a single word.
Any writing, whether it's War and Peace or a simple tweet, starts with a blank slate. The mystery and the joy of composition: pulling words out of the air, one by one, to give birth to your own creation--your story, your message. NaNo participants not only have their printed words to remind them of their ability to create, they are also rewarded with a growing graph. Who doesn't want some kind of recognition for capturing those fleeting words?
Is this the month you'll draft your novel?
Excuse Editor Tips:
  • Excuse your Inner Editor-- There's a story in your mind, and you have to let it out. Your characters, plot lines, settings, and dialogue will be pushing their way onto that page. Don't make them jump over a gatekeeper of negativity: That's not the right word; Does anybody even want to read about a rainbow colored alien?; I don't know how I'm going to get that character back on the island (or whatever). If this rough draft is going to see the light of day, your Inner Editor has to step aside. NaNoWriMo is about free-wheeling creativity. Embrace that. Play with it. Have Fun. You can invite the Inner Editor back later.
  • Ignore your Word Count-- ...while you are writing. That may seem like a strange hint for a challenge based on reaching a word count goal, however, focusing on the Numbers gets in the way of all those Letters you need to write. When your hands are on the keys, honor your work by staying present. Don't worry about the end of the day. Don't waste your mind's energy beating against the waves of what ifs. If you do, you'll find yourself drowning in doubt rather than sailing through your story. Resist clicking the Word Count button until you have finished the day's writing. Concentrate on your own creation, not that of the software engineers. Hopefully, you will get so absorbed in your story, you'll fly way past the 1667 word minimum you MUST get each day to "win" (or 1724 a day, if you start November 2; 1786 a day, if you start on the 3rd). If not, that's fine. At least you'll know what your number felt like. Besides, you still have 29 more days!
Please leave a comment: Have you participated in NaNo before? What obstacles did you find? Are you going to go for it this year?
P.S. I know that Mork really said Na-Noo, but I couldn't resist.

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