Annie On Writing

October 21, 2011

NaNoWriMo – excuse me..what? A post for beginners

Filed under: My Journey as a Writer — Annie Evett @ 12:52 am
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Last year 200 000 writers across the globe committed to writing 50K words in 30 days.  Sound crazy?  30 000 of them actually did it.

For many writers, the annual online event NaNoWriMo ( National Novel Writing Month ) is their focus to brainstorm their next novel and explore characters. For some, its the excuse to hang out with like minded wordsmiths and discuss character, plot and setting for hours – either on line or in person. Others like to sign up and ‘get the t-shirt’, but flake out after the first few days.

Regardless of how you spend those 30 days, it serves as an excellent starting point for anyone who has had a goal of ‘writing a book’.  The amount of support available for the normally solitary pursuit of writing is mind boggling. Dependant upon where you live, there are weekly coffee write-ins, Pizza and Word Parties and live blogging or word races.  There is something warm and fuzzy about the thought that during the 30 days of November, somewhere in the world, there are thousands of fingers desperately typing at a keyboard and stories being created.

NaNoWriMo has come under a great deal of criticism as “it encourages people to think they can write”.  Good Grief! Fancy an ordinary person believing they had the right to create a story.

The ‘professional’ circles of writers are split on the decision about NaNoWriMo.  Certainly, it would be ridiculous to assume that after 30 days of brainstorming and writing that a polished piece of text could be produced and submitted to a publisher.

The value which can be obtained from participating in NaNoWriMo is the specific timelines and pressure these goals build about the word count and the continuing commitment to write.. every day.  Its far too easy in our everyday life to put writing off till ‘tomorrow’. Too quickly days turn into weeks and weeks to months, until you realise you’ve not written anything substantial for over a year.  NaNos success lays in that momentum built up by the ‘habit’ of making time to write every day.

The NaNo word count (1670 words a day) can be likened to the bathroom scales used to measure ones weight.  Just like those on their initial weeks of weightloss, many writers become obsessed with the numbers. Similarly, there are going to be days where those scales tip favourably and others when no matter what effort you put in, they remain stable.

Yes, NaNoWriMo is about setting those targets, hitting the daily word count and putting yourself under pressure to perform, however, make your plans to write realistically fit around your life, not the other way around.Whilst it would be ideal to have 30 undisturbed days to write, unless you hang out in the mountains alone, its unlikely to happen. Sometimes circumstances change suddenly – a new job, a family crisis, moving house – and your planned routine doesn’t work. The trick is to be flexible and know when it’s time to tweak your methods.

If you’ve not participated before – check it out! It can be alot of fun, frustration and learning shovelled into a short amount of time.

NaNoWri Mo – the basics (this is directly  from the NaNo site). 

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To give yourself permission to write without obsessing over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To stop being one of those people who say, “I’ve always wanted to write a novel,” and become one of those people who can say, “Oh, a novel? It’s such a funny story–I’ve written three.”

When: You can sign up anytime to add your name to the roster and browse the forums. Writing begins 12:00:01 November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at 11:59:59. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

So.. what are you waiting for?  Sign up.. Log in.. Find me and kick me along as I go..

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