Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Novelists Getting The Lead Out!

It is just 5 days away -- but still enough time to decide if you want to throw caution to the wind, or continue to sit and wonder -- am I a writer or not?

Starting November 1st, it's NaNoWriMo -- National Novel Writing Month

For all the information go here

It's free. It's very popular. It's open to the world.

Why, you might wonder, would anyone in his or her right mind even attempt such larceny? Good question.
One of the chief goals of this writing frenzy is to make you write without looking back, fiddling, rewriting, stalling.
This is where, according to the folks at NaNo, quality is not what matters -- it is quantity.

 I read that and I squawk -- who the Hell wants to turn out piles of sweaty brain garbage?

As it turns out, there are probably more reasons to step up to this challenge than meets the eye:

1) Let's say you keep telling yourself you have a story to offer the world -- but you never really get around to doing it. You come up with all kinds of excuses. This is your chance to stop with the nonsense, already, and sit down somewhere quiet and just let it all pour out. 

No more wasting your life wondering shoulda, woulda, coulda. And what's the worst that can happen? You'll peter out on day two and never ever tell yourself you are a writer again. Maybe that's a good thing. Or, maybe, you are still fooling yourself. Maybe you actually are a writer but haven't pushed yourself into any kind of disciplined approach. Since this whole experiment is free, you have nothing to lose by trying to churn out those words.

2) The folks at NaNo encourage participants to begin a brand new novel on day one. If you start fresh, you have no emotional baggage or problematic scenes weighing heavily on your mind. Fresh is good. Fresh is liberating.
But there are equally thousands of writers who have stalled on existing novels who also join NaNo for the month because they feel a public and self-imposed final push might be the ticket to arriving at a completed -- or very nearly completed -- first draft.

3) Discussions of book lengths and what is and isn't acceptable in today's market to one side, consider this: 50,000 words! This translates to approximately 175 pages. That's almost an entire novel, in many cases, and certainly, it could be the bulk you need. Looking at this another way, you will arrive at a huge pile of pages that were only a fantasy a month earlier.

4) Here's another biggie: If you already write, you know how much quality trumps quantity. Nevertheless, you also know you are eminently capable of editing. But, trust me, you'll have zip, nada to edit if you have no pages to work with.

5) Finally, as one nifty writer in the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum said recently, even if all fifty pages end up in the shredder, two things may have been accomplished. One-- surely a few gems are there to be salvaged. And, two, you just learned a great deal about the writing process and your own methods of attack. You flew by the seat of your pants, tossed away some stringent rules and just let the story flow. It's all good. You even may have stumbled on a book plot that intrigues you, even if the writing is ho-hum. It's all good.

In point of fact, I am still dithering, although one thing I know -- whether formally or not, I have decided to turn out those 50,000 words between November 1st and 30th. That's roughly 1600 words a day, every day for thirty days. (I need new jammies and slippers.)

Join me. Let me know what you plan to do. I'll be posting my progress here.

November is a good time to 
-get a flu shot
-lay in some comfort foods
-ignore nasty weather and smart-alecky kids already nagging at you about Christmas, Channukah, the question of sexting...

Come Nov. 30th, you'll be so pumped, you'll actually look forward to holiday madness. You will have achieved something important that matters to you and you alone, or, you will, like Charlie Brown, feel like the absolutist mostest worstest goat -- there are great buys for booze at this time of year. You'll be able to drown your sorrows, overeat, overheat, wallow in too many stale hors d'oeuvres, tell perfect strangers how much of a loser you are, pour your troubles into a YouTube video that really goes viral, and voila! -- next thing you know, you'll be on a writer's circuit, promoting your new bestseller, How NaNoWriMo Nearly Killed Me, raking in the cash so you can get to a decent rehab.

Seriously, think about it.


  1. The neat thing about it is that it isn't really "sweaty brain garbage." I thought I'd end up with something mediocre at best, but what I got was a good solid basis for my second novel.

    Besides, my birthday's November 30 and what better present could I possibly give myself? :)

  2. Dear Marte,

    I really hope you are right because I am fence sitting and the spikes are really getting sharper by the minute!
    It looks like a lot of our friends are making the move -- so, I know I'd be in very supportive company.
    I think it's exciting that your birthday is Nov. 30th. What a great gift indeed! :-)