Saturday, October 21, 2006

National Novel Writing Month is almost here!


Next month is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! It's a challenge started by Chris Baty to produce a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days, starting November 1 and ending midnight November 30.

Yes, it's insane and yes, it's a lot of fun :-)

My daughter, Kat (15), and I have done it for the past 2 years.

The great part about NaNoWriMo is that when the goal is to produce words rather than "good writing" then amazingly creative things flow out. Well, a lot of junk too! But when you turn off your inner editor, that little voice that says "No, that's no good, that won't work," you free yourself up to be more creative.

You can plan -- think up a basic story outline -- but no writing until Nov 1. (That's in 2 Wednesdays.)

I've done it with no plan 2 years in a row and it's worked out great. Even had a few hours to spare. ;-) Considering that the novel I've been picking at for the last 20 years hasn't gotten beyond (it's embarrassing to say ;-) 100,000 words of notes, actually finishing something and seeing the ideas flow without being planned was enlightening to say the least :-)

(When you're done you upload your work to the Nanowrimo word counter and it automatically counts your words. It's very generous about what it considers a word. No one reads it. It's just shear number of words.)

The first year we did it we set our goal at 1700 words per day (which would be 51,000) but some days the writing doesn't flow as well and some days get very busy (there's Thanksgiving and preparation in there!) so last year we set our daily goal as 2000 which gave us some generous padding.

Someone asked me last year how much time it takes and I was hesitant to say because for us it's a lot. But I read Chris Baty's book, No Plot, No Problem, and he said it takes 1.5 to 2 hours a day on average. Most people doing it also have jobs or go to school so that's all the time they can give it. So the answer to how much time will it take is that it will take us much time as you give it, basically! If you give it all day, it takes all day. If you only have 2 hours, it takes 2 hours.

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