NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow. For the initiated folks, that’s short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal of the event/group/movement is to write a novel of at lest 50,000 words in the month of November. You aren’t allowed to pre-write anything, although you’re free to outline, work out characters, etc.
I completed NaNoWriMo in 2009 and failed miserably in 2010. I’m making a concerted effort to finish and finish well this year. I’m using a schedule that should let me finish without thrashing out the last few thousand words at the 11th hour.
If I remember correctly, the hardest part is the middle ten days. At the beginning you’re excited, at the end you’re looking forward to finishing. The middle drags. You’re wondering what the heck you’re doing, and why you’re doing it for free. Your initial ideas are already burned off, and you’re stuck in the middle act. That middle act is about 10 days away from now, so I’m still plenty excited.
If you’re wondering why I’m doing this, here’s my best answer: I want to! My 2009 product is far from perfect, but two years later I finally figured out what to do with it and I’m looking forward to editing it this winter. Plus, it feels great to honestly say that I wrote a real-life novel.
If you’ve ever wanted to actually write a novel, maybe now’s the time to do it! Here are my veteran’s tips on how to make it through the month:
- Write at least fifteen minutes every day.
- Expect it to be hard. YOU ARE WRITING A NOVEL.
- Have fun. YOU ARE WRITING A NOVEL!
And now, for a reminder that even when things are hard, life can be pretty great:
In high school, I read The Sun Also Rises. That book absolutely blew my mind. Ever since then, I’ve been a Hemingway guy. I even visited his house in Key West a few years ago.
I’ve been trying to pump myself up for NaNoWriMo this year, and I’ve been trolling through some Hemingway quotes for some clues as to what the hell I’m supposed to do with an empty piece of paper. Here are some of my favorites:
- Write drunk; edit sober.
- There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.
The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without.
There is no rule on how to write. Sometimes it comes easily and perfectly; sometimes it’s like drilling rock and then blasting it out with charges.
- A man’s got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book.
Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.
My other favorite writer was F. Scott Fitzgerald, mostly for This Side of Paradise. Here are a few Fitzgerald quotes I like:
- A great social success is a pretty girl who plays her cards as carefully as if she were plain.
- First you take a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes you.
- His was a great sin who first invented consciousness. Let us lose it for a few hours.
- I like people and I like them to like me, but I wear my heart where God put it, on the inside.
- Men get to be a mixture of the charming mannerisms of the women they have known.
- To write it, it took three months; to conceive it three minutes; to collect the data in it all my life.
I like those guys.
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
Last year was my first year to participate in NaNoWriMo. The things I love most about it are that (1) I got to check something off my bucket list, and (2) everyone involved was really supportive and friendly. It was a good experience.
Finishing a giant, 100+ page novel is a great feeling. If you’ve EVER wanted to write a book, this is the way to do it. It won’t be perfect, but it will be a start. And you will prove to yourself that you are capable of writing an entire book. You’ll prove you’ve got a story to tell.
My book from last year is pretty cheesy because it is essentially unedited. But, I think the story and the characters are worth saving. I think I’m going to try and turn the book into a comic book. I just need someone to draw it for me. (I’m looking at you, Jim.)
The reason I’m telling you all this is because I want to give you plenty of time to decide whether or not you want to try it this year. If you, do you can become my “Writing Buddy” on the site, and we can track each other’s progress. I found that to be a helpful way to keep going throughout the month.
There are also “Regions” in NaNoWriMo, which allow you to connect with other participants in your geographic location. They do things like group writing and social mixers. I might try to attend some of those things this year.
That’s my pitch. I hope some of you join me!
As of this morning, I’m officially a freelance writer. I turned in my piece last weekend and today I received payment. What did I write? A press release for an undisclosed company. It’s not glamorous, but it’s still pretty fun!
Here’s to living the dream!