With just over two weeks to go until National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’ve already had two people take me aside and suggest this might not be the best idea for me – this year. You see it’s been a tricky sort of year with medical issues hijacking our normal routine, and I’m still trying to get everything at home back on an even keel. Christmas is just around the corner, and for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere spring is really getting its groove on. Do I really want to tie myself to the computer for the whole month to write a truly awful first draft?
Of course I do.
The NaNo call has been issued. I hear it reverberating around the blogisphere:
‘Come one. Come all. Join us and in just one month you might have a whole new book…’
Too good to be true? Of course it is. But what’s a little bit of pain when you have so much to gain.
Now I know I’m wearing October tinted glasses. It always sounds like so much fun before the event. Like getting ready for a camping trip with your friends; before the mosquitoes, rain and sleeping on the hard ground… But it’s been two years since I won NaNo, and the painful reality has receded (the flashbacks are few and far between). Surely this time will be different? Easier? The words will flow right?
Okay, so I don’t really believe it myself. But there are some great things to be gained by participating in NaNoWriMo, so can it work when you have limited time?
1. Is 50,000 Words Realistic?
Hang on a minute, NaNo is about reaching the 50,000 word count – after all that’s how you win. So why on earth are you lowering the bar before you start? And for that matter isn’t it better to aim for a higher goal and miss, than aim small?
*looks around for NaNo police*
Too true, but if the goal is just going to be too much to handle, I’m likely to fizzle out in the first few days. I know it happened to me last year when I tried to do NaNo a week and half after moving house. After a few days I was so far behind I gave up altogether – and felt terrible. My calendar for November is already heaving, so I’m having to ask myself what is a realistic goal if I’m going to participate?
2. Setting Achieveable Goals.
Rather than focus entirely on word count I’ve been tossing up other goals. A good goal is one that is both identifiable and measurable. So far I’ve come up with:
- Write every day during November.
- Give up television (in the evenings – I can still watch X-Factor with the kids before they go to bed…).
- Do a half hour writing sprint every day.
- Set ‘real life’ goals during the day, so time will be free to write in the evenings.
There are already so many great how-to-get-ready blog-posts out there I’ll just summarise:
- Janice Hardy is doing a series on prepping for NaNoWriMo. A great place to start is NaNoWriMo Prep: Planning Your Novel’s Beginning. Some really great basic structure questions to ask before you start writing.
- Suzannah Windsor Freeman at Write It Sideways in NaNoWriMo: Quick Preparation Tips and Resources provides a comprehensive preparation check-list as well as links to numerous other helpful NaNo preparatory blog sites.
- Roz Morris at the Nail Your Novel blog posted: How to Outline Your Story for National Novel-Writing Month – Checklist. Great story questions to ask before you start writing.
- But probably the most appealing is 2 Minutes to Chocolate Heaven with a Dollop of NaNoWriMo on the Side, from Robin Lythgoe. What’s not to love about a brownie in a mug…
4. A Vague Idea.
It never hurts to have a vague idea of what you want to write. Although in the spirit of NaNo there’s also nothing wrong with turning up and see what arrives on the page. A friend of mine wrote an amazing book during NaNo one year that just ‘arrived‘ sans planning. Of course the idea is to start something new, but it can also be a good opportunity to finish something you’ve already started.
This year I’m toying with either pushing through with Fall of the Kings, or going back to finish Legend – the poorly timed book three of my trilogy I wrote during NaNo 2010. After my recent attack of self-doubt with Fall of the Kings, I’m wondering if Legend might not be a stand-alone novel after all. Certainly I’ve been feeling some of the characters again lately and am itching to pick them up again.
But who knows? There’s still two more weeks to go and there is a very real possibility my loved ones will read this blog and stage an intervention…
So what are your thoughts on NaNoWriMo? Are you participating this year? How do you prepare? Is it worthwhile or not appealing at all? How do you feel about fudging the NaNo criteria?