I know, I know it’s only August, but November is coming. And, November is the month for NANOWRIMO.
I’ve talked about NANOWRIMO before. Actually… Several… Times… . I’ve ‘won’ several times too. But it’s still relevant for many of us in the writing community. So, it’s time to talk about it again.
NANO is a great opportunity to crack out a first draft. From its inception, helping people get off their butts and write that story has been the point of NANO. For those of us who try it, and especially for those of us who finish a manuscript, there are things to remember.
- We’re talking about a finished draft, not a finished book. Nobody’s going to have a finished ready to publish a book in a month. (Well, maybe Steven King…)
- There is genuine work involved any time you write a book.
- You need to plan ahead.
Pantsers need to plan too…
When I wrote “you need to plan ahead,” about thirty people I know shouted, “but I’m a pantser!” Great! But… Planning the manuscript isn’t what I’m talking about. Planners can outline and think. Pantsers can start the month with nothing but a blank page. But there are still things to think about and plan beforehand.
When are you going to write? You need to work writing into your schedule. If you don’t, it won’t happen. Finding the time often means making the time, and that takes planning. It also requires understanding how and when you write best. If you don’t know this before you start, you might learn a lot, but I’m not betting on you finishing a manuscript.
Where are you going to write? Do you have a good place to do it? Sure, you can clear a corner in your house, but working on a running dryer doesn’t work for most of us… What kind of environment works best? Again, this takes experience. And making sure such a place is available takes planning.
Do you have the correct equipment? It doesn’t matter if you’re a pen and paper writer, a laptop literato or just making do with your phone. If your equipment fails on you, you won’t get very far. Making sure you’ve got gear and supplies goes a long way to insure your success. (I’ve got several boxes of pens, a stack of notebooks, and a pallet of soda, so I’ll be ready).
Whether you plan the story or not, planning how you’ll succeed is important.
One thing most of us shouldn’t plan on is doing lots of editing… (At least not during NANOWRIMO)
It’s National Novel Writing Month, not National Novel Editing Month…
Some people do lots of editing as they write. They usually take a lot longer than a month to finish a manuscript. NANOWRIMO ain’t that kind of party. It’s a race to completion kind of thing, and opportunity to put your inner editor on hold and let the ideas flow. We’ll call the editor in later. But NANO is a great opportunity to just let yourself tell a story.
If you struggle with that inner editor nerfing your ideas, NANO can really help. It creates a reason to put that editor on hold.
It’s not for everybody, or every book. But it’s worth trying.
For fiction, NANOWRIMO works for me. For non-fiction, it really doesn’t. Even if you only get started on a manuscript, you’ve gotten something out of it. If you learn it’s not for you, you’ve gotten something out of it. You’ve learned more about how you write. But… how do you know it does (or doesn’t) work for you before you try?
The ‘prize’ depends on what you do with it
‘Winning’ NANOWRIMO is a personal achievement. There are ‘prizes’ for finishing, for toping 50,000 words. Most of the rewards are software discounts, free trials, and other benefits intended to draw your business to NANOWRIMO backers. Often the biggest prizes are the ones you give yourself.
- If you win, you’ve got a completed manuscript (or at least a sizeable chunk of it).
- You’ve learned something about yourself and your writing. Every manuscript is different, so I learn something every year.
- You’ve gotten to be the first one to experience a story! Yeah, it’s your story, but it’s a new story (or at least a new telling) and you got there first. Nobody, not even your inner editor, got to spoil it for you.
NANOWRIMO is a wonderful opportunity. But you get out of it what you put into it (and hopefully more). Even if you’re a panters who’s starting with a blank page, some preparation is necessary to succeed. But you can do it!
I’m writing again this year, and I’m inviting you to come along. And, as always, I’ll see you next post.