Thursday, November 14, 2013

National Novel Writing Month

November of each year brings the oh, so awesome National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo.

It's a challenge to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days.

Seem impossible? It's not. I've won NaNo twice. You win by completing the 50,000 words. Now, note that I said I've won twice, but 2013 marks my sixth year as a wrimo (the name used for people who take up the challenge). Yes, that means I've failed three times. But so-called "failure" in NaNo is still a good thing because it means you're writing and getting words down.

It’s an insane intense incredible goal, but it can be done. My first attempt in 2008 ended in an epic failure. I kept starting over and trying to fix things. The purpose of NaNo is to blast through on the first draft. No editing, no fixing, no altering. Just constant forward momentum. As a novelist, it was hard for me to ignore the bad stuff, the scenes that didn't work, the characters that wandered onto the stage with no purpose, etc. But the following year, I totally embraced the spirit of NaNo. It's all about getting to the end. 

A first draft is just that -- the first go round. You can't edit what you haven't written. I won in 2009 and 2010 writing mystery/suspense novels. I did a combination of longhand and computer writing. I only had a desktop PC in 2009 so I would just carefully mark where longhand ended and computer pages began and vice versa. Today, I write on a laptop ... and still in longhand, using those great spiral-bound college rule notebooks that you can get for a quarter (or less!) during back-to-school shopping sales. Every August, I buy 12-15 of them and that's my notebook stash for the coming year.

Have you done NaNo? What was your experience?

I attend write-ins -- and I host one each year. A write-in is just that, wrimos gather in a place and write. Here are some images, two from 2011 and one from a couple of weeks ago.  

This is a NaNoWriMo 2011 write-in at Aromas in Newport News, Va.

Wrimo Divas of 2011! Note our tiaras. We're at Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Newport News, Va.

Nov. 3, 2013 marked the 5th year of a community write-in I host at the York County Public Library. This year for the 5th Annual Write-in at Tabb, we had 19 wrimos attend. I couldn't manage to get a complete photo of the room and everyone in it. This was during the first hour or so before additional people came in. This event is always the first Sunday of every November.

 My progress so far this year? I'm way behind. But I'm headed to two write-in events this weekend. I'll let you know how much I get done.

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