Thursday, October 29, 2009

A NaNoWriMo Journey - Prologue

This is the tenth year of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). Every November, an intrepid group of people (some published writers, some not) of all ages, nationalities, ethnicities, genders, and walks of life subject themselves to the self-imposed discipline of trying to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. Notice I did not say a "finished" novel or "publishable" novel. One of the criteria is to banish the internal critic for a month -- perhaps send it on vacation to some tropical isle -- and do one thing and one thing only -- WRITE! What you end up with at midnight on November 30 might be total gibberish, or it just might be a pretty good first draft. The point is, if you want to be a writer and have your work published, you've got do the actual writing. And that's where the discipline of NaNoWriMo comes in. It takes thirty days to form a habit; so if you've been procrastinating and have ideas swimming around in your head, NaNo is a great way to finally get something down on paper -- or into a word processor. At the very least, it'll clear out the brain clutter.

Some people start cold turkey on November first: no plot, no outline, no title, no idea of what to write. Others spend some time in October (or even earlier) deciding on a story to tell, developing character biographies, thinking about setting, and perhaps doing an outline to help keep them on track once the insanity begins. When they sit down at the computer on November 1, they have a title and at least a general idea of who they're writing about and what will happen to them.

My first year of NaNo, I dove in without any preparation -- and won! It felt pretty amazing to set myself such a daunting task and actually complete it. The first draft is still sitting here, waiting to be revised and sent out into the world. Last year, due to a death in the family, I wasn't able to finish NaNo, though I did have five chapters completed, and have been working on that story and like how it's coming along. So, this year, I decided to do some advance prep which included creating an outline of my plot, a list of characters and general facts about them, a word-count calendar, joining some forums (which I'd previously participated in), and pairing up with some writing buddies for mutual encouragement, support, and commiseration. It really helps to have someone to share the struggles and the joys with when you're pretty much isolated from civilization for a solid month, Thanksgiving Day excepted -- or not.

With three days left until the starting gun, I have completed the aforementioned tasks and even managed to introduce a couple of other people to NaNo. And as if trying to write a novel in thirty days wasn't enough pressure, I decided to blog about my 2009 NaNo experience. At this point, I haven't yet officially joined NaBloWriMo (National Blog Writing Month), which coincides with NaNoWriMo and requires daily blogging-- still thinking about that which, I suppose, indicates that I still have a few marbles left; but I am going to TRY (with apologies to Yoda and Mr. Miyagi) to blog every day. We'll see what happens.

I'll be posting daily updates on the process and story, and perhaps other interesting tidbits along the way, as the month progresses. And so, I invite you to come along on this journey. Three days and counting...