Did I just sign up for NaNoWriMo?

I’m a little bit excited.

This week I took the plunge and signed up for my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The challenge — and readers of this blog might be aware I love a challenge — is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the 30 days of November. (Technically the challenge is to write a new 50,000 word novel from scratch, but I’m going to be working on my existing WIP.)

Okay, that’s a lot of words.

If you break it down, it comes to ~1700 words per day. Considering I set out at the start of this year to write 500 words a day, and bombed out sometime in February, one would be forgiven for thinking I’ve gone mad.

Actually, I think I have gone mad.

But I’m also excited. And I can’t wait to get started. For the first time ever, I feel I have a shot at achieving this massive task.

Over the past month I’ve been trying out a different mode of writing. Instead of attempting to write a ‘perfect’ first draft, I’ve adopted the ‘rough’ first draft approach. I’m embracing clunky phrasing, sketchy descriptions, bad dialogue — and just focusing on getting the story down.

This probably sounds obvious to many people reading this, but I’ve never had much luck with writing this way. I think I’m finding it possible now, because I’m planning out each scene before I write it. This can take a little while, but it seems to be keeping the story on track. The upshot is I’m writing a lot faster (like, 3-4 times faster) and I’m scrapping less. It’s win-win.

It’s true the writing is rough and will need a really good edit-slash-rewrite… but since I tend to do that to ‘perfect’ first drafts anyway — because they’re clearly not perfect — I’m still winning.

The other key point is that I’m in a really good head space at the moment. I’ve managed to rediscover my joy after 18 months in the wilderness, and my mojo is back. I know where the novel is heading and I’m excited about it.

So if there was ever a time for me to tackle NaNoWriMo it’s now.

I know it’s going to be tough. It’s one thing to slam out 2000 words on a Saturday afternoon after plotting and storyboarding with pals in the cafe. It will be quite another to produce nearly 2000 words every day for a month.

In addition to the daily slab of time, there’s the energy and creativity needed to keep making stuff up. 50,000 words is half a fantasy novel, thereabouts. That’s a lot of story to come up with in a single month.

To achieve this, I must:

  • Get plenty of sleep. This is going to be essential. I will need to be very disciplined about this.
  • Minimise TV viewing. This will be a challenge, but I suspect my hard disk recorder will get a workout.
  • Minimise social network activity, maybe except for NaNoWriMo discussions.
  • Be organised with meals. There won’t be much cooking happening after the dayjob, but there’ll be much reheating.
  • Limit dayjob hours!

So that’s the plan. Daunting, huh? And yet I’m still excited. I want to see how far I can push myself.

And even if I don’t get to 50K, so long as I give it a red hot go I won’t be disappointed. Besides, I’d truly be happy to produce even 20K on my WIP in a month. Bring on November!

On the subject of challenges: who reading this likes taking them on, and what drives you to do so?

20 comments

  1. Go for it! Sounds like you’ve got a great plan. I’m a ‘throw it on the paper and clean it up after’ writer and it does allow me to get more written. I need to come up with a plan for revising, though. That takes me forever. Have fun!

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  2. I’m all for taking challenges. I guess I like them because they give me a big old kick in the pants. In fact, I’m in a 90 day fitness challenge with Jillian Michaels right now! I also joined NaNoWriMo this year and am going to be finishing up my current WIP. Color me crazy…
    I think your gameplan sounds great – you’re gonna rock this – I can tell!
    Did you join the WANA NaNoWriMo group?

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    1. Yeah, bring on the challenges!
      Is there a WANA NaNoWriMo group? I will find it! Tell me your handle and I will buddy you! (I’m ellenvgreg)

      As for me ‘rocking’ this challenge… All I’ll say is I’m going to try! But it’s so far beyond the wordage I’ve ever achieved in a month, it’s a bit like scaling Everest. But I’m up for it!

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  3. Ellen, I did NaNo in 2010 and am so glad I did. Did I have a stellar manuscript when the clock struck the 30th? Hardly, but you are seasoned enough to know that.

    Yet, bonuses abound. I fulfilled a writing commitment. I sat in chair, disciplined and determined, every day, and hammered out the word count, budgeted appropriately before and after days I couldn’t commit so that I would not be lagging behind. That was huge for me.

    This November, I’m going back to the NaNo ms to make it pretty and beautiful. The base has had two years to simmer while I debated over the ripest ingredients.

    Best of all, I earned a badge that says, I DID IT!

    Will be cheering for you, Ellen. Bravo!

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  4. Kudos for taking the challenges and good luck with it. Remember that you’ll profit no matter that result.

    One advice I would offer would be to think of it more as words per week rather than words per day, so that you can have wiggle room with those off days, and hopefully push yourself a little more on the days when you’re on fire!

    Once again, good luck! 8)

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  5. Yay! I’m so glad to know there will be a writing buddy out there doing the NaNo thing with me. Your reasons for doing it almost match exactly the reasons I’m doing it. Here’s to a month of word slinging and giving our inner editors time off! Best of luck to you! Cheers! 🙂

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  6. I think I’m channeling you. 🙂 Your NaNo strategy list matches mine to the item (no TV, more sleep, the cooking thing, etc).

    Here’s to 50,000 words or more in November. Go us!

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  7. Good luck! This will be my third NaNoWriMo. It’s really good that you’ve managed to get the real ethos behind it – that is of just writing *something*. So many people give up because they get halfway through and realise they’ll never reach the 50K mark at their current rate, but as you said, even writing 20K in a month is still a fantastic achievement.

    Here’s to high word counts!

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