Monday, November 1, 2010

NaNoWriMo MoMo

By Steve Weddle

Today is the first day of November, which means it is the day I stop what I am doing and focus on one thing: Oh, crap, the mortgage is due.

My lovely bride, who used to be a Catholic, reminds that it's also All Saints Day.

And, if you're that chick from Square Pegs, it's the day you say "rabbit, rabbit" first thing for luck.

But if you're coming here and you're not one of those booger-licking, Saban-loving, rectum-smelling blog spammers, then you're probably already aware -- it's the kick-off to NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

How cool is that? 50k in 30 days -- not quite 2k per day, but it's pretty close. Could you do the needed 1,667 words per day? Heck, I've done three times that in a day. One day. The next I probably didn't get any writing done. Maybe I caught up on the laundry. Maybe it was a double-header on the soccer pitch. Maybe there was a Project Runway marathon on. Heck if I know.

I've had 5,000-word Saturdays and 15-word Tuesdays.

No one writes 50,000 words in a month, do they? I dunno. Here's how I write. The other day I had a picture banging around in my head. My main character is going to meet someone for a chat. Needs to be some place other players in the book wouldn't pop in. No cops. No attorneys. No tough guys. Gotta be the hippie food place I remember in Shreveport.

--at Earthereal, a dark, tight little place up on the hill, under big oak trees, between the smart kids' high school and the little boutique shops in what used to be the nice part of town.--

OK. Nice use of commas, moron. And at some point, I'll have to clean that idea up. Can't you hear Samuel L. Jackson suggesting that I say "little" one more time, futher mucker? And I'll need to hit the Google maps to see if the layout is how I remember it. Maybe streetview that sucker, too. All for a scene that will probably get cut.

So that's what I got. In a day. If you really want to hear about it, as Holden would say, that's what I got last week. Shut up. I've been busy. I'm not writing on contract. I'm not writing for anyone but me. So, there's no external imperative. Unlike my job. My family. The yard. The dishes. The laundry. There's this Laura Kasischke poem with the line: "This is the way the small survive./ The way the small have always survived." This is the way the small write, isn't it? Fits and spurts. It's how I write, anyway.

But you know what? That's the book's fault. At times, it's tough to keep up. I write and the words just flow, unstoppable, like an over-flowing toilet. Sometimes the scenes flow on into another, the next chapter opens and this one closes. I just type what they're saying, you know? And then sometimes I have characters stuck in one place for a month.

I like the idea of NaNoWriMo. Being forced to write, get the words down. It's perfect. I like that idea the way I like the idea of reading that big nonfiction book on some disease in 14th-century Italy and how it helped shape the way we used modern medicine. Sounds good, but I'll just end up returning this one back to the library. I mean, it's due the first of November so I should get that back soon. Heck, I should have already gotten it back to the library. But I'll get it back in the morning. The second will be fine. Right after I swing by the post office and get some stamps for these bills.


Do YOU NaNoWriMo? Good idea, yeah?


Paul said...

I'm 500 words into my third Nano. I love doing it but I have to say I've yet to get a workable first draft out of it. I'm hoping it's a case of third time lucky this time around. It's also a nice chance to blow the cobwebs of my 'proper' book out of my head.

SueH said...

I was bullied into NaNo last year - and surprised myself! Managed to complete the challenge in 25 of the 30 days - but it was touch and go on the 'meals and clean underwear' side of life! And the end result morphed into a full 83k word MS! (currently out doing the rounds on agent-ville!)

So, I've joined the month of madness again (fool!!!) and mothballed the other WIPs - had no idea what to write up until the last minute....wonder where this story's taking me...?

John McFetridge said...

I co-wrote a book for the 3-day novel writing competition that happens every Labour Day. It's run out of Canada but open to anybody. Didn't win, of course, but did get a workable first draft that turned into the novel, "Below the Line."

So here I am nearly ten years later and last month I wrote six pages. And I am on a deadline (now in it's third and probably final extension).

Most people can only write one way and I guess the key is to find out what that way is for you.

But I have started tom realize that it mint be okay to force it a little. I think there's something to be said for doing something everyday. Writing may be like music, you know th old, "miss a day and you notice, miss two days and the other people in the band notice, miss three days and everyone notices."

Or maybe that's just me looking for an excuse why it's so hard to get back into this.

Steve Weddle said...

Paul -- Keep them gears greased.

Sue H -- 83k from working it? Very cool. Best of luck this go-round.

John -- When I'm writing for three or four days in a row, the writing is much easier. But, as your favo(u)rite band THE CURE says, "The further I get from the things that I care about/ the less I care about how much further away I get."

pattinase (abbott) said...

Reading your thoughts here were more fun than reading most books. I had ideas for three pieces on the way into work today. That's what happens to me. But I can never imagine them being longer than 3500 words. I just write outlines. Maybe an outline a day for a month would develop a pattern. I write every day but often it is rewriting because that's what's easiest for me. Polish and not plot.

Ian Ayris said...

Never tried NaNoWriMo. And don't think I will. I've tried the sit on your arse in front of the computer for a prescribed period or wordcount every day, but it just doesn't work for me. I just begin to sort of resent it.

I know all that stuff about treating writing as your job and all that, but for me, unless I can feel the electric running through my fingers, the voices and the pictures whizzing around inside my head so fast they become real, I just can't do it. Not one word. And them days, them no word days, they don't matter anymore because I know there will be days to come when every letter on the keyboard lights up and tells me which one to press next. And them days, them days I can't set a time or date on. I just have to wait.

Lack of discipline? Perhaps. An ingrained resentment of authority? Almost definitely. Would I change it for the world? No.

Good luck to everyone, though, with the NaNoWriMo wotsit. You are better men and women than I.

Graham Powell said...

There is no way in hell I could ever average 1,000 words a day for a month, not with the hour or two I have available each day. When I'm going good, my average daily output is 250-500 words.

Part of the reason is, when I get to the end of a scene, I need to stop and consider how I want to handle the next scene. How will the characters interact? What will the tone be? Just what will all that witty banter be about?

So I even when the writing is going well I still need breaks to figure out how to get to the next waypoint.

(Word verification: prestifu - the magic martial art.)

Evan Lewis said...

I like the pressure.

Last year I finished with 51,126 and completed a draft. Haven't looked at since, but because it's the sequel to an unsold novel I'm in no rush. Trouble was, I only did two days of plotting in advance and had to a lot of that on the fly.

This year I plotted for two weeks and it's the first book in a (I hope) series. 1700 a day was pretty easy, so I'm shooting for 2000, planning to complete 3/4 of an 80,000 manuscript. We'll see.

Unknown said...

It's always fascinating to read how other people work, some great comments here.

I've started a club on my website so you can receive daily emails with inspirational quotes about writing to keep you motivated! More info here if you're interested:

Best of luck!


Steve Weddle said...

Patti -- An outline a day for a month? Dang. Sounds like something out of Dante to me.

Ian -- Yeah. I've been waiting for the genius words to find me for a while now.

Graham -- I know a bunch of folks swear by the 500-words-a-day idea. I just can't get into the consistency of things.

Evan -- Upping the ante? Sheesh.

Nicola -- Good luck.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

No Nanowrimo for me. I admit that the whole concept scares the crap out of me and I'm a write every day kind of girl. I tend to average about 6,000 words on a normal week - so I would totally fail Nano. And the month of November is always harder for me to write in because the holidays are approaching.

That being said - good luck to all Nanowrimo participants. I hope you all hit your goals!