October 22, 2007

Here goes…NaNoWriMo 2007!

Posted in Books, National Novel Writing Month, Writing at 3:20 pm by Calico Jack

For several years, I’ve wanted to participate in the National Novel Writing Month, but have never really found the time or the willpower to do so. For the uninitiated, it’s a month-long exercise (from November 1 through November 30) where tens of thousands of people all over the world try their hand at writing a complete novel (50,000 words or longer) in a mere thirty days. Quality is at the bottom of the importance list; what matters is churning out enough prose to meet the goal before the end of the month. It’s truly an example of quantity over quality, but it gives all of us the chance to do something that we might otherwise put off for years or even decades.

I’ve talked to other NaNoWriMo participants before, and the key thing they always stress is how grueling this is — especially for those of us with demands on our time. I’m a full-time student with a part-time job, which is rather daunting. And November is when most of my term papers are due. But I’ve resolved to give up nearly all of my TV watching for the month to focus exclusively on this; all I can hope is that the TiVo doesn’t run out of hard drive space.

This really isn’t about creating a work of art, but rather accomplishing something impressive along with thousands of other writers manic enough to churn out this much product. I fully expect my work to be cliché-ridden and unimaginative, filled with pedestrian prose and sketchily-drawn characterizations.

My background really isn’t in creative writing, but in essays and non-fiction work. In fact, the last time I attempted something this daunting was when I was six. Having decided to write an installment of the Boxcar Children series, I wrote in my journal for a solid three weeks — and thirty pages later, I ran out of ideas.

I actually only decided to tackle the NaNoWriMo a week or so ago, so I’ve been scrambling to come up with a good story. Last night I had a flash of inspiration which I frantically scribbled down. The good news is that I think it’s quite good. The bad news is that it was the ending to a possible story, which means I have to come up with everything before that. It’s much harder to start with an ending and work backwards than the reverse…so we’ll see how it goes. My plan is to post my work on Ignorant Critics as I write, but that also opens me up to a huge amount of ridicule for publishing unedited crap. The hardest thing for me, however, is going to be resisting the urge to do extensive editing once I write a paragraph or page. I’ll have to just keep plugging away, no matter how tempted I am to revise a line or a chapter, because otherwise I’ll never finish. Once the deadline is past, I can go back and do some drastic rewriting if I think the story is decent enough to spend the extra time. But until then, I’m going to be slogging away every night.

Nonetheless, I’m pretty excited about this opportunity. I have no idea if I’ll be able to complete the 50,000 word goal before time runs out November 30, but I plan to give it my best shot. And in case I write myself into a corner, I have an ace up the sleeve (See? Clichéd writing already!) to give me an out. That won’t be revealed unless I hit the proverbial brick wall (Oh, I’m loving this…). Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an outline to work on.

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