Friday, October 01, 2004

NaNoWriMo and the Magic of Deadlines

Signups for National Novel Writing Month opened today. If you haven't heard of this before, idea behind it is for participants to write 50,000+ words of fiction each during the month of November. This works out to something like 6 or 7 pages a day, so it's not a small job. You don't get any prize for passing the word count except a PDF certificate to print out and, of course, your very own novel. But I'd say that's enough. Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo, has a new book out: No Plot? No Problem! It's all about writing a novel in 30 days, and it's excellent. Amusing, inspiring and encouraging all at the same time, so definitely recommended for anyone interested in trying this.

The genius of it all is in the deadline. A great many people daydream or talk about writing a novel "some day," but very few actually do. Being given a mere month to write an entire novel basically gives people permission to write complete crap if they need to, as long as they write enough. And that gets them through the hardest part of novel writing -- getting started and getting the bulk of the text written. Plus, if lots of other people are doing the same thing during the same month, you can get people together for writing parties and support groups and whatnot, which helps, too. When it's all over, you can decide to go on to edit and revise your novel, and try to make it something worth actually reading. Or you can just let it all go as having been a fun exercise in creativity. Whatever.

I'm signed up for it, so I'm going to give it a shot. I haven't a clue whether or not I can actually do it, and it's moderately terrifying to think about. But on the other hand, it could be extremely cool. What have I got to lose, anyway? Andrea, one of my cube-mates, is going to do it too, so we can encourage each other through it.

The rules are that you can think up characters and plot outlines and such ahead of time, but you can't write any prose until 12:00:01 am November 1st. So I will happily accept any ideas people might want to throw my way. What should I write a novel about?


Lacey said...

That's great! I've heard about NaNoWriMo, but never really had the inclination to do it. Does anybody actually read what you come up with? I'm assuming you have to submit it somewhere to get the certificate, but they could just do a word count on it. :) I have no idea what you should write about, but I would say it should be something you don't have to do a whole lot of research for! :P It's clever that they give you November to do it, because, even though it's only a 30-day month, it's got a couple of holidays in it to give you some extra writing time. :) Good luck!

Tandava said...

No, no one at NaNoWriMo reads the novels. They just run them through a word count and that's it. (It would be a lot to read, anyway.) I may set up a blog to record the whole process, though.

Borden said...

Blog for the process? How about a blog with the result? With the quality of writing in your blog entries I'm sure that what you produce will be more readable than most of what gets written during November.

It does sound like an interesting idea. Also quite a commitment. Just making time to that much typing on a daily basis could be a challenge! Good luck!

Jeff said...

Add to the challenge: each day, flip open a newspaper (or a cookbook, or a public announcement board, or whatever--maybe change from day to day) and point at random to a sentence in it. That sentence is the first sentence of the day's installment. That should help take care of the issue of finding a plot and characters, too. Lots of ready-made inspiration out there just waiting to be collected.

LKBM said...

This is quite cool. I'm pretty bad at writing long things, and at writing in a novel-type tone, but I think I'll give this a try too. You've inspired me to waste a month of my life.
I haven't signed up for it yet, but I first read your post yesterday, and I'm still interested today. I'll see how I feel in a week, and if I still like the concept then I'll probably go ahead and sign up then. (I don't want to sign up unless I have a decent idea that I'll actually still find it interesting when the time comes.)

I love how the last date to register is November 25. 10 000 words a day?