Yes, it’s November, which means it’s time again for National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo, for short)! I’m actually a pretty big fan of NaNoWriMo; I like the idea of it: spending a month putting butt in chair and just banging the words out until you have none left. But what I like most about it is having the deadline looming, and knowing just how many words I need to write daily to meet it. The last couple times I did it, I bashed that 50k into the ground (the second time I did it, I ended up at about 75k by the end of November. ETA: Holy cow! I went back and looked at my previous NaNo entries on LJ, and I actually finished with 110k. Was I insane or something?!?). It’s amazing to see just how much I can do without going crazy (and it’s alot!).
The first two years, I worked on The Bone Flower Throne, and this year, I’m going to finish up the current WIP, which is already sitting at 95k. I’m aiming for a finished product of about 120k, but that leaves me a lot of room to go over at this point, since I cut heavily in edits. My process pretty much involves just dumping my brain on the page and seeing what I like after the fact.
Now, I know there are some purists out there that insist you don’t really “win” if you don’t start a fresh novel at the beginning of November. I say horse-hockey to them, and they need to get a grip. “Winning” doesn’t land you a publishing contract, so who gives a fuck if you “win” or not. I know people who set out to write 50k in short fiction during the month (a much harder task than writing 50k of a novel, if you ask me). I did my first NaNo with a fresh project, but by the second time, I was really wanting to finish that sucker that I’d let languish for an entire year with no work on it. And seeing how motivated to crank out word count I’d felt during the previous year, I decided that’s what was most important: just getting the work done. It’s been a few years since I’ve done NaNo, so maybe folks aren’t as anal retentive about the “rules” as they used to be, but regardless I’m NaNoing to get work done, and that’s all that really matters. I need to get that first draft done and ready to edit and rewrite by the beginning of the year because my motivation has been in the toilet since the end of summer.
I’m far enough into the novel that I don’t have a working outline anymore, but I know where I’m going, so I’m kind of winging it, working off a crude roadmap in my head. I don’t have any opinion for whether or not people doing NaNo should have an outline or not; everyone works differently and it’s perfectly okay to stick with what’s comfortable. But November is also a good time to try different methods, so one shouldn’t be afraid to try outlining if they’re normally a pantser, or try pantsing if one’s normally an outlining control-freak. (though if one hasn’t outlined at this point, they’ll be behind).
If you’d like to follow my progress over at the NaNo website, my username is tlmorganfield. Feel free to buddy me and I’ll buddy you back. And good luck to all those joining the fray this year!
And turn off your internet while you’re working. You’d be surprised by just how much extra you can get done when not wasting your days on YouTube or LiveJournal or Facebook or Twitter.