If you are an aspiring novelist you already know what National Novel Writing Month or #NANOWRIMO is. It is a harrowing thirty day adventure where you try to craft a novel of 50,ooo words. Write a complete novel in a month? Who came up with such madness? No doubt it was a writer. Only people such as us can dream up such utter madness!
But here I am, drinking the Kool-Aid for a second straight year. I will be quick to admit that NaNoWriMo ate my lunch last year, as my first attempt ran out of gas at 29,000 odd words. But I learned a lot from the experience and armed with a solid outline I am back for more. I have also picked up some knowledge I want to impart in this blog post. Here are six things I have learned through Twitter.
- People want to share their ups and downs with others who will commiserate or celebrate. Let’s face it, if you don’t do this thing called novel writing you cannot hope to understand the strain it puts on a writer. You see we go into bookstores all the time and dream of seeing our name on the front of a book in that shelf. To get to that point however means a lot of days where our success is either invigorating or lack thereof is energy-sucking.
- Some people have more time to write than others and trying to keep pace with them is foolish! I read several Twitter posts each day and I knew within a few days I would begin to see fellow novelists boast of being half-way or futher in their 50K journey. But today, on November 4th, I saw someone celebrating their “win”. For those of you not in the madness a “win” is crossing the 50,000 word threshold. I said “SERIOUSLY”, what do you do for a living. many of us have full time jobs and cannot devote the kind of time it would take to write 50,000 words in 4 days.
- Being and encourager is desperately needed! As a Christian I have always tried to live within the bounds of something I know as the J.O.Y. Principle, which is explained as Jesus First, Others Second and Yourself Last. So I try my best to read through some Twitter posts, find one with a post that reflects the need for encouragement and have at it. I even began using this hashtag: #Encourageawriter. I hope I can enlist a legion of others to help me make it trend between now and the end of NaNoWriMo2016.
- There is no end to the NaNo Tips Posts. Thanks to all of you who are trying to help those of us still cutting our teeth in the business, but who has time to read all these and reach our desired daily word goal? Yes, I realize I am joining this group, but I wanted to share some insight for those interested in the topic but not doing the dance.
- Too many people sabotage themselves by trying to get it perfect the first time through. The idea is to get the first 50,000 words assembled within the 30 days of the month of November. No, they may not be part of the final 80,000 or so words when you submit to a publisher, but it is much easier to submit a finished work if you get it started. Editing comes later, not while you are in the midst of NaNoWriMo.So what if you claim the win on November 30th and find yourself on December 15th with a 41,000 word revised manuscript? At least you have created something!
- There are so many great writers out there! Everyone I have encountered both last year and this year are just like me, only wanting to enjoy the thrill of a publisher asking to publish our creation. Oh how we will celebrate that day! I am trying to collect a few friends to share my celebration with and who will want to celebrate their success with me.
I am sure there are more Twitter discoveries I will collect during this adventure, but for now this is what I will share. If you want to help me encourage use the hashtag I mentioned above. You may get a nice 140 character thank you note!
What does it look like to be crushed by an idea you embraced with such excitement and enthusiasm in its buildup? I think the picture that follows can sum up my response.
What I envisioned as a 747 arcing across the sky over the month of November headed for at least a 50,000 word beginning of my first published novel instead is holding its place as a 29,039 word beginning. Rest assured I have not thrown in the towel or the landing gear on this quest. But I do know this, 50,000 words in 30 days is a monumental task, one I had known in the preceding years and avoided at all costs. But in 2015 I thought it would be worth the effort. I can say it was not.
I got tied in with NaNoWriMo.org (for free or I would not have done it) and they go to great lengths to try to encourage you and get you involved with other writers. This is all fine and well if you have scads of time to devote to such. But if you intend to tap out the average of 1,667 words per day to stay on pace it leaves little time for anything else.
I did attend one write in, which is a physical gathering of those taking part in the month long exercise at a local site. With the exception of the two liaisons from the event there was one other writer and myself, so not much opportunity to feel a part of a community. It is true that writing is a solitary adventure and most of your motivation has to come form within, but you would think writers would jump at the chance to share a brief time with others.
The novel I am in the midst of writing was not the problem, that story is in my head, begging to be transferred to the computer. The issue is the demands of writing it within such a short and yet hectic time period. Consider the holiday that falls within the 30 day period. Then I can add in the fact that I left the country for a week long mission trip. Of course I knew that going in, but in the early days when the enthusiasm was tied to adrenaline I was able to get ahead of the pace and felt I could easily reach the goal.
So in summary I guess I would say this experience confirmed what I already believed, that NaNoWriMo is not for me. I will finish this novel and get it ready to be published either with a traditional publisher or by publishing it myself through Amazon or another means. It is my greatest desire at his moment after the things that are always bigger priorities (spouse, children, job, etc.). I suppose I will have to try to find another avenue to develop a writer network of friends.
National Novel Writing Month is coming in nine days. So what, you say? Why should I care? Well it is highly possible some novel you read in the next six to eighteen months could see its beginning in the thirty day festival of novel writing that is #NaNoWriMo. Basically, for anyone still in the dark, novel writers commit to writing a 50,000 word novel in thirty days. While 50,000 words might seem short for a novel, on average there are 250-300 words per page. using this estimate a 50K word novel would constitute around 200 pages.
I can count five manuscripts in my inventory of unpublished works. I will confess I have never tried to do the #NaNoWriMo because the concept is more than intimidating. You will write 1,667 words on average each day to total 50K in thirty calendar days. Keep in mind there is a holiday on November 26th and you eschew that 24 hour period. This year I also will surrender four days of my writing schedule to an international mission trip. While I could still find the time, who knows if I will want to try?
So there are innumerable reasons to shake my head and retreat from this challenge once more, but there is another compelling reason not to: A story dying to be written. It is a concept I have been mentally building out over a few months. But now it is getting ready to hit the fast track and get a full court press to 50K words.
So, what can I do to facilitate this? Well, for the first time in my novel writing adventures I plan to do a flow chart. No, I am not a flow chart expert and it will not be pretty, but I feel like I need to chart out the action and story line so i can write more effectively. I have decided to use the tact of writing individual chapters that focus on one of the characters, and believe I can chart accordingly.
Three Christmases past my wife invested in the Dragon voice dictation program. It is great as far as making the entry a lot faster, once it learns your speech eccentricities. It is not 100% flawless, but it helps quite a bit. What I am hoping for is to connect with other #NaNoWriMo authors to build some community so we can cheer each other on. I would also like to get some others who will gently inquire as to my progress and keep me focused on the goal. Who knows, I might be able to get this thing ready for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award that is coming in Jan-Feb time frame.
Okay, here is the part where I find out how many people who click on my posts read to the end. You are probably asking what will be the subject of this novel. It will be a suspense thriller with an FBI agent chasing a serial killer on the Blue Ridge Parkway of North Carolina and Virginia.