Friday, November 30, 2007

NaNoWriMo Victory!

I'm a NaNo winner for 2007. I know it's a pretty big accomplishment, and I do feel pretty good about it, but I wanted to take today (the last day of NaNo) to talk about what it means to have been a part of NaNo and what it's accomplished in my life.

I found NaNo completely by accident. Here it is, mid-October, and I'm perusing Wikipedia at work. MS is my focus right now, I have maybe 20000 words left to go on it (it's hard to recall). I end up reading something about a writing contest in November. Writing contest? What? I, foolishly, follow the link to the main website.

NaNoWriMo (found, ironically enough, at ) stands for National Novel Writing Month. For anyone who doesn't know, NaNo is a free contest where users sign up and then attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. You have to start on or after Nov 1, and you have to submit your final word count by midnight November 30.

The goal of NaNo is to get people writing. Now, I'm a big believer in 'if you're a writer you need to write' ever since I first read it when Stephen King's On Writing came out and I decided to try to give it a shot. I haven't always done it, but I've always held that to be what I should be aspiring to. And after angsty on and off periods with my first novel, I had already committed myself to at least attempting MS every day. I didn't always succeed. But the first draft didn't take any longer than four months, which is a signifiant difference compared to 4 years. If I could up my speed by that much, surely I could up my speed again and not only do 50000 words in a month, but finish the first draft completely!

So I signed up for NaNo. I take two days a week off of writing, for my wrists' sake and because I have a social life and right now I can't juggle writing on my social days (transportation issues leave me with too long of a commute). That meant that I'd need to write at least 2800 words on each day I wrote to hit 50,000. Which was a significant amount more than I had been doing (some 1500 or so probably a day) but doable. I set myself a goal for 3000 words a day.
Of course, MS wasn't done. So with the remaining two weeks of October, I flew through the last bit of MS. MS was completed on the 30th of October. I took October 31st off of writing. And then, at mightnight on the 1st of November, I began WTC.

NaNo's been an interesting experience. I hit 50,000 words nine days ago. I was pretty good about sticking to my schedule, sometimes even getting more. The moment I hit 50,000 though, I became lazy. That was bad. Then again, I've also been tottering near burnout due to my frantic pace from one novel straight into another. So I guess I can be excused, but I'd rather not be. Since then, I've managed another 12 thousand leaving me with 62000 as of today and yesterday (I took yesterday off due to wrist and hand pain).

But I did it. And it wasn't that hard. Not that I expected it to be. I know that 50,000 is a drop in the bucket. My novel was half done at 50,000. I hadn't even gotten to the good stuff yet. It was all building up to it still. Frustrating. I hate the middle of novels. It helped to have the forums to commisserate with. They're a wonderful resource full of people struggling or succeeding, lost or sure, beginners and veterns alike.

It also helped to join the regional board and meet local writers. I think I'm about the craziest, publication-focused of the lot, but it's not that bad. They're a great group, and I appreciate them all. I've never met serious writers before. I've met One Day Writers, as in "one day I'll write a book" but never people who actually attempted it aside from myself. It was nice to see how many different people could do it, how many walks of life could be drawn to this one crazy thing. It's been so motivating to see that I wasn't the only one. Having a feeling of community is absolutely essential.

I'm already chomping at the bit for NaNo 2008. I'd highly suggest that anyone who wants to write but can't find the motivation should give it a shot. When you make the time, you'll find the time. That's just how it goes. If anybody complains about not having time, just read the posts by single mothers with young children and a job who still complete 50,000 words in November. Trust me, YOU CAN DO IT. Anybody could complete NaNo. It will teach you the crash course in rock star writing. No worries about whether it sucks. Just letting it all hang out and daring to suck and actually writing instead of talking about it.

I won't try to evangelize NaNo this year, since it's over today. But I will be pimping NaNo up and down next year. It's a wonderful thing. So here's a year warning. Anyone could do NaNo at least once. Only someone afraid of their own potential would refuse. Only someone who doesn't realize their own abilities lets it overwhelm them. ANYONE can do it. Everyone should. That's a wonderful thing.

Now I just have to finish this stupid draft. =D


Rayne said...

I'm excited about next year also. Now that I know I can do it.

Literary Rock Star said...

It's good to know you'll be doing it next year, too. Here's hoping for a repeat!

My own problem right now is that the idea I have is going to be VERY demanding. I'll be writing like mad all month if I want to achieve what I hope to achieve.

J Morgetron said...

I like the idea that NaNo's goal is just to get people writing.

Congratulations on your win.