NaNoWriMo starts tomorrow, and, as happens every year at this time, the writing world is all abuzz.
I did NaNoWriMo once, a few years ago. It was pretty awesome. I didn’t actually sign up for it at the site the way you’re supposed to, because I didn’t think I’d actually be able to do it and I didn’t want to set myself up to fail (this is, sadly, a recurring theme throughout my writing life) so I didn’t get any of the support from other Nanoers that is really the reason a lot of people do it.
But it was the same year that I’d first decided to try this whole writing thing. All I’d managed to do up until then was write a lot of random scenes that I couldn’t figure out how to fit together. I’d read books on writing, I’d tried to learn more about my chosen genre (which at the time was adult chick lit), but the prospect of actually writing and finishing an entire book seemed a million years away. I had nothing to lose. So I tried it.
And I did it! I wrote an entire sequential 50,000 words that comprised a connected story arc and had an actual ending. They were terrible words, and it was an even worse story arc, but I did it. I knew within that first week that the book I was writing was going to be terrible — not something I’d ever want to consider submitting, or even revising — but I was determined to finish it, because I’d made a commitment to myself. And I did finish it. It was the biggest confidence boost I’d ever had in my writing up to that point, because for the first time, I felt like maybe I really could make a real go at this whole writing-books thing.
And as terrible as the finished product was, I learned stuff in the process of churning out those words. A lot of what I did with that book is still the same stuff that I’m doing now. Just like with my NaNo book, most of the novels I’ve written and planned since then have had two protagonists, who come from very different worlds. And, just as happened then, I often start out writing secondary characters who I start out planning to have serve as obstacles for my protagonists to overcome but who wind up being my favorite characters and threatening to take over the whole story with their awesomeness.
Since that first year, I haven’t done NaNo again. I’ve always been in the middle of a project when November rolls around, and I’m mired in my outline and to-do list.
This year, again, I won’t be doing NaNo, at least not in the traditional sense. But I did just embark on a new project, which I’m calling the Historical Novel.It involves a lot of research, which I’m still very much mired in, and which I need to do a lot more of before I can really start writing. But in addition to the research, I also have all the usual stuff I always do before I start writing — outlining, character development, etc. I have spreadsheets to fill in and plot points to figure out. And it would be awesome if I was done with all that and ready to hunker down and start writing by December 1st.
And so I have decided to do what I’m calling NaNoPreMo — National Novel Pre-Writing Month. Oh, I kill me.
So, while everyone else is pounding out words over the next 30 days, I’ll be reading memoirs and watching newsreel footage and spending still more hours at the library. Which will probably be more fun, albeit slightly less satisfying in the end.
Are you doing NaNoWriMo this year? If not what’s on your plate for November?