– David Milch
Despite this fundamental truth, I’ve decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. For those who aren’t familiar, here’s the description from the www.nanowrimo.org “About” page:
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing.
On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.
Studies have shown that announcing goals or resolutions isn’t always a good idea. Apparently, some people get warm fuzzies from just from announcing the goal, and that this becomes a substitute for actually doing the work.
There are those who sign up for NaNoWriMo and never post a word count.
However, the articles I read also say that if one treats the announcement of a goal as a commitment rather than an achievement in itself, the increased accountability can help. Here are links if you’d like to read more: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/psysociety/should-you-tell-facebook-about-your-resolutions/ and http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/announcing-plans-may-kill-motivation-productivity/
What these articles don’t address is a factor that I think is very important: how people in your circle react to your announcement. Part of the fun of NaNoWriMo is the generally supportive environment on the website and the message boards.
On the other hand, announcing that you’re planning to write your first book can backfire if clueless or negative people in your life will chivvy you about when your first bestseller is going to come out. The same thing can happen with setting goals of any sort—it’s good to share them with people who will be supportive and also won’t treat you as a failure if you don’t reach your goal.
In my case, I’m not worried about the support team issue. It’s been about 15 years since I started writing and by now I know who’s got my back. The others just don’t matter any more. I do NaNoWriMo because it’s fun and suits my writing process.
Several times in the past I’ve made it past the 50,000 mark. This time, my personal goal is just to get back into the groove of writing again and continue to make progress on the novella I started during my recent writer’s retreat. I’m managing about half an hour to an hour every day and the progress is very slow but steady. I certainly won’t “win” in the sense of achieving 50,000 words, but if all goes well, I may finish the rough draft of the novella. With the original 6,000 words, I am about one third to one half done!
How about you? Do you like announcing goals and do you find it helps? Do you enjoy tracking progress and how?
Sorry for the alphabet soup in the title!
Diane already talked about the New Jersey Romance Writers conference, where she, Gail and I were fortunate enough to hang out together and celebrate Diane’s finaling in the Golden Leaf with A Marriage of Notoriety. I enjoyed the published authors’ retreat (they serve wine and chocolate pretzels), workshops on the business and craft of writing, and just being with other Regency authors (there are none in my local writing circle). Here are pics of Gail and me at the booksigning.
Gail and I also spent some time on Saturday night brainstorming individual story ideas. I’ll leave it to Gail to talk about hers when she’s ready. All I’ll say is the beginning parts she read to me were delightful! As for me, I’m feeling more ready to go ahead and write prequel and sequel novellas to Lady Em’s Indiscretion.
In fact, I think I’m going to join others in doing the National Novel Writing Month challenge. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, the idea is to draft 50,000 words of a new novel within the month of November.
There are naysayers who say it’s impossible to write 50,000 of publishable, readable fiction in one month. Actually, I know people who can do that (not me!) but for most writers, that is true. I’m sure loads of dreck is produced during NaNoWriMo. Probably some of it will make its way, unedited, into Kindle Direct Publishing but that’s no big deal, really. Others, like me, see the challenge as a fun way to generate ideas. We’re very aware that more time will be spent afterwards to rework and polish our ideas into readable fiction.
In years that I’m busy editing in the fall, I don’t do NaNoWriMo. But when it fits where I’m at in the writing–as it does this year–I join in. I admit, I love watching the progress meter rise! So wish me luck and anyone else doing the challenge, feel free to add me as a “Writing Buddy”. My NaNoWriMo ID is Elena Greene, with just a space in the middle.
Finally, something for all the historical romance lovers out there who would like to spread the word about this wonderful genre. A group of authors have created the Historical Romance Network. One project has been the creation of a video celebrating the variety of historical romance. Check it out here.
You’re all also invited to join the Fall Back in Time Facebook event. On November 1st, post a selfie taken while holding a historical romance. What a great way to celebrate historical romance (and an extra hour of sleep). 🙂
For anyone who’s not familiar, NaNoWriMo, often abbreviated to NaNo, stands for National Novel Writing Month. According to the organization’s website, “National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59 PM on November 30.”
The last time I participated was in 2007 but I didn’t make it to 50,000. The last time I “won” was in 2006. Each time I’ve participated, I’ve had a blast and gotten a lot done. There’s something about watching the progress graph climb that helps to motivate me.
I’ve heard people criticize NaNo for a number of reasons. It is true that a lot of people don’t get anywhere close to the 50,000 word mark. Personally, I think it’s great that people who talk about wanting to write a book someday actually give it a try. If they learn that writing isn’t really their thing, that’s fine. They can go on to other endeavors. If they learn to respect the hard work that authors put into writing, that’s a good thing too.
The other complaint I’ve heard is that NaNo produces a lot of dreck. True, but I still say no problem. For writers like me, it’s a good way to start a rough draft, to get to know my characters and get a clearer idea of their journey. I wouldn’t think of inflicting my rough drafts on my critique partners, let alone the reading public. A lot of rewriting and editing happen before I put anything out there.
Will some participants go ahead and self-publish their not-ready or even may-never-be-ready drafts? Probably. No big deal. It seems to me that the search algorithms at online bookstores won’t put those titles near the top of the list and bury more carefully written and edited books.
Anyway, I wish everyone a successful and fun NaNo. I’m not participating this year because I’m on the 4th draft of the balloonist story and need to focus on that. However, I’m setting myself the personal challenge of having this draft ready for critique by the end of the month. If others can write 50,000 words of rough draft in this time, maybe I can manage 15-20,000 of somewhat more polished work. Here’s my Storytoolz progress bar. Wish me luck!
What challenges have you set yourself recently?