NaNoWriMo or the National Novel Writing Month sounded a utopian concept when I first encountered it. Every year, in the month of November, thousands of writers, aspiring and already published, sign up for an exceedingly exciting and nerve wracking month of writing away and producing a novel at the end of 30 days. How cool is that!
A Writers‘ Paradise
If this isn’t the stuff of what a writer’s dreams are made of, then what is? Writing with abandon, on and on.
One, participating in NaNoWriMo is that you become a writer and writing is what you ‘do’, just as in an office job with a fancy title. The seriousness of being a writer which is a profession of creative pursuit is always an enchanting idea.
Two, the license and the intent to write endlessly and knowing that thousands around the globe are doing the same is boosting to the morale.
The two things combined are the real life version of a lone cottage tucked away in the hills with pine scented air and absolute silence except for the crunch of leaves underneath your foot as you walk and think of the great literary masterpiece that you are creating.
And, at the end of it all, you have a real manuscript in your hand or in your hard drive.
I got to know of this wickedly sinful tempting treat of a lifetime, nay an annual one, two Novembers back. A part of me went into a dream overdrive thinking how good this paradisical apparition must be. The other realistic part of me knew I could not type fast enough or long enough for the writing marathon. I was doing a lot of my writing on the paper. I was not really dealing in quantity and quality was paramount to me as I completed a paragraph. The first challenge was to think and write in terms of screens and word documents.
Another reason was a time constraint. I did not know then that time never stops anyone for following one’s passion.
I would have loved to write at that time but did not know what to write about.
So I settled for the next best thing that November. It was to sign up for NaNoWriMo’s cousin, the NaBloPoMo, which meant that I committed to posting everyday on my fledgeling blog. It worked quite well and I came away with a renewed vigour. The next year, I decided, I would do the novel thing.
Fast forward, next November. I had the time, the resources and the idea for a full length novel. It was to be a memoir. There were reams of material sitting in my head waiting to be taken out, examined and slotted neatly into chapters. I was pleased with myself and very enthusiastic. I pledged to write daily and meet my target word count every single day/night.
It started off well. Very well. I exceeded my word count daily. The ideas flowed thick and strong. The words came out in droves and secretly I marveled at the way I marshalled my thoughts and the memories sounded like interesting anecdotes. A few days on… Life happened. I missed a night of writing and then two and then panicked at myself never being able to get back to the word count satisfactorily. After that, the ideas ran out and the anecdotes sounded repetitive and then the entire premise of creating a book out of my experiences sounded rather lame. I did not even try to do my best. I did not even try to redeem what was left of the month and of the story. I gave in, hook, line and sinker.
This year I know better for the failure. I know I want to experience the ultimate utopia and the ultimate validation (writing like a writer who knows what she is doing is more a validation than a published work).
So, I am doing the NaNoWriMo 2016. I would be writing those 50,000 words which would make up the first draft of my piece de resistance. I am trying to pin down the ideas that are swimming around in my head, creating great whirl pools and sometimes cascades. I am yet to decide the plot, the characters and the storyline. Even if it does not happen, I am going to pluck an idea out of thin air and start writing.
The Muscling Up
The first and foremost is that I know I am going to do it. Truly and wholeheartedly. It is easy to lose track of motivation and give up when the going gets tough.
I must also know what to expect. I cannot wake up on the morning of November 1 and start writing madly and expect the momentum of the writing to carry me through the next 29 days. A month long project takes some preparation, even if mental and it would not do to rely solely on coffee. Or wine.
The word count might look formidable so I break it into daily chunks. Ah, the magic 1666. No, don’t think of the Devil yet! However, my past experience has proven that things come up unexpectedly and daily writing may not be possible or the word count we try to achieve may not be consistent. So I plan ahead. I look at the calender and the scheduled events and decide which days would be good to write more and which ones need to take the slack.
As for the actual writing, I am trying to get into the habit of reaching the desired word count every day till November comes around.
This gives me some very useful insights. I now know what is the best word count I can have for the day. I know which times of the day are good for writing. I know how I can get around the challenge of not having enough time to write. I know my blocks and I know how to work around them. I know the distractions and I have developed strategies to overcome them.
Most importantly, I have created a support system of people, writers and non writers, to motivate, to push, to shove and to inspire. And also to relax with after having the entire character cast run through my head all day long.
All this makes me more confident of the actual process of writing. So, cheers to the preparation and a greatly satisfying round of writing the story I have always wanted to.
Are you participating in the NaNoWriMo this year? What are your tips and strategies?