It’s that time of year again. November approaches in a gust of fallen leaves, smashed pumpkin bits and savory scents that evoke the holidays to come.
November also means NaNoWriMo is upon us. For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is the rather lengthy short form of National Novel Writing Month, a 30-day reality show for writers: namely, where we get put ourselves under deadline, count how many words we write daily, and aim to finish 50,000 of them (the average size of a debut novel) by month’s end.
Of course, we would pick a month that has one less day than 75% of the others . . .
Last year, I finished NaNoWriMo as a “winner” (that is, I completed my 50,000 words). I wrote completely off the top of my head, revising my premise three days into the exercise and still making up the words along the way.
At the end, I had a rollicking gaslamp fantasy, The League of Marvelosities, about a completely ordinary girl born into a Victorian-esque aristocracy where power, wealth, and influence are inherited based not on happenstance of birth, but on demonstrated brilliance.
For a year, I’ve allowed that story to marinade in my mind, and I have a pretty good idea of what I want to revise—at least at the outset. So this year, rather than piling up another manuscript on my already sky-high revision pile, I’m going to turn NaNoWRiMo into NaNoRiMo.
National Novel Revision Month.
Unfortunately, the official NaNo competition only allows for word counts on first-time, never-before-drafted work. (They run a revision competition in April–which, for me, wasn’t enough time away from my work to do a solid revision.)
But all this is no deterrent; there are plenty of great word-counting devices online that I can use to track my progress and compete with friends who are doing the official NaNoWriMo. And since I blog five to six days per week, I have an excuse to post my word count as part of every post.
So what’s my motivation to keep it up? After all, by mid-month courage (and holiday preparations) often conspire to sabotage even the most dedicated of writers’ schedules. Here are a few thoughts:
1) The prospect of having a first-pass revision complete.
In my world of in-process projects, revision is a victory toward final completion and release. Making a first pass at League is a satisfying slap in the face of my Inner Critic, who often whispers, “Hey, you’ll never finish any of these projects, so why even try?”
2) The prospect of sharing my story with a reader.
My writing partner Terry has promised to be the first human besides me to read League of Marvelosities once my first revision is finished. What better motivation to write, than to know that someone else will finally share this story? And provide feedback I know I can count on for the next revision?
3) The prospect of expediting a process.
I don’t know about you, but if I have the chance to procrastinate, I will. The shortened timeframe ensures I stay efficient, revising each chapter. cutting what doesn’t work and adding what’s currently missing, without getting bogged down in any one spot.
If you’ve never done any type of NaNo before, but you’re planning to this year . . . be forewarned: it’s challenging. (You knew that already, right?)
But I can attest, by keeping up my NaNo writing habits all year long since last November, this year’s challenge looks far less scary. The 2,000 or so words per day it takes to finish a bit early is now second nature, because I do them almost every morning—and, along the way, have been learning to shed the self-loathing that made eking every word out of my head a struggle for a very long time.
When you think about it, building this type of daily practice is perhaps the best motivator of all to make November a madcap of frantic typing.
So whether you plan to participate in NaNoWRiMo or NaNoRiMo, I hope you’ll join me on this journey. You’ve got a story inside you. What better way to end the year than by taking your dream from blank page to completed draft (or from completed draft to the next step)?
Here’s to the writer in all of us!
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How will you NaNo this year? Share your plans below! And let me know where I can add you on the NaNo site … because you know I’ll be stalking it even if I can’t post my word counts there!