As Autumn descends in my part of the world my thoughts are being taken over by one thing. NaNoWriMo. As November, National Novel Writing Month approaches, writers in their hundreds… no their thousands of hundreds are sharpening their pencils, filling their inkpots and exercising their typing fingers. To NaNo or Not to NaNo. That is the question.
NaNoWriMo challenges writers to write 50,000 words in one month. 30 days. That’s around 1666 words a day to be precise. Every day. Now some purists say that 50k doesn’t make a novel. But that isn’t the point. The point is that a story gets told. Well a rough draft. It’s about forming a habit, supported by other fellow habit forming writers and watching your progress on a daily basis. Some people don’t make it. Some people write double that. And some writers go on with the NaNo project to publication.
There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.”
― Chris Baty
The initiative started in 1999 with 16 participants. In 2013 they reported 310,095 writers signed up for the challenge of which 14% achieved the challenge. So, it’s not an easy task and some do fall by the wayside. But again, that’s not the point. NaNo puts writers in touch with writers, develops local communities, provided tips and suggestions and a forum for participants to share information. It’s a huge family of writers and really it doesn’t matter if you don’t reach the target. What’s the worse that could happen? It’s about trying to form a habit. The habit of writing. For how else is that novel going to be written? And there is so much more. Two Camp NaNo challenges in April and July as well as help with editing and plotting the next challenge.
“Whether or not you write well, write bravely.” -Bill Stout
I’ve participated in four challenges. One I had to pull out of as a family illness became a priority and rightly so. I love the buzz it gives me. And I have signed up. But I have five Works In Progress, rough drafts of on average 60k words and my priority is to edit and revise them before I start another large writing project. Otherwise I’ll just end up with a load of sh*tty first drafts.
“It’s not always about writing more words or drinking more coffee. Sometimes getting to the end of a novel simply takes remembering that the world is more complicated than we know, and then sticking some of those complications into the story.”
― Scott Westerfeld
But I’m still going to participate because I’d like to encourage the buzz it gives me outside NaNo. I want to create a regular writing habit that sees things through to an end. I also believe that writing short stories can develop my skills as a writer, especially for scenes, which need a beginning, a middle and an end. So scribbling away in my morning pages at 6.30 am I decided to write a short story a day. Around 1500 words, some may be longer some shorter but I hope to reach the target. My own personal NaShoSto month. And hopefully I’ll have some fodder for some competition entries in 2016. Who knows what can happen?
So what about you? How do you form a writing habit? And will you be participating. If so, my NaNo name is The Duchessa (another story for another time) we could be buddies!