Oh no! NaNo!

While the middle of September might be a wee early for some folks to think about November, I think I’ll start planning now for what I hope will be a “win” this year doing NaNoWriMo.

In case you haven’t heard about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, which is now more international than national), here is their blurb:

National Novel Writing Month began in 1999 as a daunting but straightforward challenge: to write 50,000 words of a novel in thirty days. Now, each year on November 1, hundreds of thousands of people around the world begin to write, determined to end the month with 50,000 words of a brand new novel. They enter the month as elementary school teachers, mechanics, or stay-at-home parents. They leave novelists.

NaNoWriMo officially became a nonprofit organization in 2006, and our programs support writing fluency and education. Our website hosts more than a million writers, serving as a social network with author profiles, personal project libraries, and writing buddies. NaNoWriMo tracks words for writers like Fitbit tracks steps, and hosts real-world writing events in cities from Mexico City, to Seoul, to Milwaukee with the help of 900+ volunteers in thousands of partnering libraries and community centers like… well, like nothing else.

I’ve written for most years since about the time they became an official nonprofit, some years with more success at completing a 50k word novel than others (about 2 or 3 times). I usually start off strong and then one thing or another interrupts the pace and I fail miserably by the deadline (okay, averaging 60-80% of a short 50k word novel isn’t failing miserably, but it’s not a “win” either).

One would thing, what with all the words I murder on a daily basis, that I’d be able to complete the challenge within the first week, but it rarely happens that way. It involves writing 1667 words a day if you write every day, which can be grueling when you have work, kids, pets and household chores to take care of. Not to mention that everyone seems to thing family get-togethers are essential around Thanksgiving. Well, with Covid-19, there is a strong possibility that I will eschew indoor family gatherings (outdoor is unlikely to impossible in Minnesota), so I can at least dodge that bullet. And working from home gives me an additional hour to my day in saved commuting time.

As such, it doesn’t hurt to come up with a game plan to keep me on track.

For NaNo, I tend to like having a skeleton of a novel to work from. I dislike digging deeper than major plot points and rough character sketches, as I am more of a “pantster” than a “planster” or “plotter” — I tend to be less an “architect” and more of a “gardener”, to use GRR Martin’s choice of words — though I have leaned towards plansterville on occasion.

So, while I don’t like to develop a story plot-turn by plot-turn, NaNo’s crunch makes it necessary to have a rough road map to work from if I want to finish. Otherwise, I end up with 26k words of rambling adverb-filled steaming bowl of tripe like I did in 2005 (I re-read some of that a few years ago and I still have nightmares about what I wrote, then posted as a WiP online. Shudder). Of course, I was still fairly new to writing novels (having focused on lyrics, poetry and short stories for most of my life up to that point)… But still… Those poor slain pixels and destroyed optical nerves of the readers. I still am doing penance over that experiment gone awry. Why did I think doing a mystery novel based on the three weavers of fate was a good idea? Probably beer and booze. And majoring in chemistry (the forensics and criminal justice was easy, but the chemistry about destroyed me).

Anyways, don’t be surprised if I mention NaNoWriMo frequently between now and until whenever I can’t find the time or inspiration to complete the warped monster that’s come out of my decision to pursue this event for the tenth or more time. As has been my tradition, I always welcome starter plots or first sentence suggestions (the more obtuse, the better) to consider as I prep. I haven’t decided if I will post the effort in-progress or if I’ll spare everyone the torture of having it pop up in your feed.

If you are considering participating yourself, or are already part of the NaNoWriMo cult, you can add me as a “buddy” by friending “michael_raven”.

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