…National Novel Writing Month! Affectionately shortened to NaNoWriMo, or even just NaNo, it is a month of pure writing with no editing. The goal is to write a minimum 50,000 word novel. Considering that the standard average is 250 words/page, that’s a 200 page book; not very long really, but it’s a start. Of course, most of the participants don’t stop at 50,000 words; that’s just a goal, and that works out to 1,667 words every day.
NaNo is a program of the Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit dedicated to helping people write, including programs in schools to get kids to write. If you want more information about their programs, check out their website here: http://www.lettersandlight.org/
I participated last year for the first time and made my goal with a couple of days to spare. The hardest part for me was the not-editing part. Whenever I write, I have to fix typos and grammatical errors as soon as I see them, so stopping myself from doing that was really, really, hard. But then I discovered that in the past, I had used the editing as a stalling tactic, because it definitely interrupts the flow of the story. I went into NaNo thinking I couldn’t do it as I had only ever written short stories (and some very bad adolescent poetry!) So I surprised myself with how I was able to sit down and just write.
I know there are some writers who start with a plan and an outline, then flesh it out with characters, and timelines, and all sorts of details about what happens to whom and when. I’m a percolating pantser when I write; I have an idea percolating in the back of my brain for a while, but when I actually sit down to write, it’s a seat-of-the-pants kind of thing. (There was quite a discussion on the NaNo Forums about different methods of writing – very interesting!) I have tried the planning and the outlines, but it’s basically a waste of time, because as soon as I start writing, the characters take over and go, do, and say, whatever they want, not what I want.
So I will do it again this year. This time I have a plan of sorts; I at least know what I will write about. Last year, I sat staring at a blank screen until about Day 4. So beginning November 1st, I’ll be frantically writing every day when I get home from work, and all day on weekends and Holidays. And hopefully, I’ll have another story ready to edit by the time December 1st rolls around.