Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Let the Nanowriming Begin!

Today, the race to 50k begins and this isn't about money; it's about word count.

National Novel Writing Month, a.k.a "Nanowrimo" begins today, November 1st. This is a time when dreamers, procrastinators, and other literary professionals or aspirants strap on their goggles, crack their knuckles, charge their computers, and buy an extra flash drive in hopes of writing 50,000 words of a novel.  If you've always wanted to write, but didn't know how to start - this is the event for you.

Here are a few pointers to get you through the month of "literary abandon."

1.  It's a numbers game.  Don't get hung up on quality, brilliance, or genius - the goal is to push your way through to 50,000 words and to prove to yourself that you're physically able to bang out this many words.

2.  Plot will work itself out.  Yes, it's ideal to have a sense of where Point A begins and where Point B might be, but the thrill of Nanowrimo often lies within the Points of Interest you happen upon along the way.  Let yourself be surprised! Let your characters do "uncharacteristic" things!

3.  Focus.  The Nanowrimo forums can be fun and informative, but beware!  An hour can go by and you will not have boosted your word count a smidge.  Time is of the essence.  You've got 11 months out of the year to resume normal procrastinating activities.  This month is all about focus.

4. Starting is much more difficult than finishing.  In my three attempts at Nanowrimo (two of them successfully completed, thank you very much.), I have found that racking up the word count is much more tedious at the beginning of the month than at the end of the month.  I liken this to exercise.  When you're out of shape, you'll feel sore those first few days, but then the body acclimates and you're good to keep going.  Also, the beginning is where you're finding your voice and direction; trying stuff out.

5.  Beef up your word count ASAP.  In light of Tip #4, aim for a word count that is a bit higher than the 1,667 daily average word count goal.  First, it'll get you firmly on your way to telling your story so that you're not hopelessly floundering by November 10th with a measly 5,000 words.  Secondly, you'll provide some padding (and hope) for those days, like Thanksgiving, when you won't have time to baste the turkey, eat your pie, watch football, and get your word count in.

6.  The first 10,000 words are the most difficult to write.  You'll bang your head on the keyboard more in the beginning than at any other time.  The next 15,000 words are a bit less painful, and once you've hit the 25k mark, well, as they say, "It's all downhill from here."

7.  The finish line is worth it.  The whole event is free, so there's no monetary penalty or incentive associated with Nanowrimo. However, winning - crossing the 50k finish line - and grabbing your Winner's certificate and goodies is awesome!  After one month, you will have put in the effort and thoroughly earned the treats rewarded at the end.

When you do cross the finish line, let me know how your journey was!

Good luck!