NaNoWriMo: A Method to the Madness

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. 

Oneparticipating 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. 

The Background 

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. 

Now 

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? 

Advertisements

37 Comments

    1. Glad to know that you are interested, Tanya.
      A couple of years ago, I myself had to forgo it because of various reasons.
      Board exams would be in March, right? So you still have time to prepare and do well. All the best for your studies and hope to see you in NaNoWriMo next November 🙂
      Thanks a lot for your wishes!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply

  1. http://nanowrimo.org/participants/i_once_was Nike with me, “just DO it.” how? well, WRITE! 😉 my obvious strategy is read like a pig and sneak in some living and cut my teeth on my inisitial ideas of approach prior to the big days. my previous try was thirty six thousand or so words easily enough and swiftly put to the limit even if it was after november that year – eight ago. I’ve heard people suggest everything it seems and yet it really just comes down to there are 330 days and the count seemingly easy at two and a half pages a day. this amounts to 45 minutes of blather. I can do that. but to save savvy editing and revision to a later time perhaps? the idea is to get it in the can first. but such is just one way after the goal – you could kerouac it and have yourself a fine bender – hopefully not on harmful living please and write it over 2 days straight. but as you note kerouac had a shorter life than some of us and or the general average. hopefully, you know something of yourself and laugh then and do this anyways. if you do, I have a buddy roster -perhaps you’ll join in my merry band of lunancies?.. i mean me. the other people exist and my insanity does not necessarily reflect their viewpoints.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply

    1. Would definitely like to join your merry band!
      I guess, a little bit of lunacy is required to get through this. Starting from pitching the idea to your near and dear ones who stare at you suspiciously and perhaps stifle a laugh or two.
      Then the working on the plot and the characters. Putting down a lot of stuff down each day is still doable but making sure that the stuff borders on read ability is the difficult part.
      Thanks for your tips and tricks. I would make sure that there is no burn out and that my life expectancy does not shorten because of NaNoWriMo 😉
      Thanks for the wisdom 🙂

      Like

      Reply

      1. because i’m far far too along in Russian lit not to let a little fart of opstinacy, I remind you of a black humored haha. think of how much more interesting we’d be if we kerouaced the nano? 😀 … now back to healthy wails.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. in that sense, i don’t expect to tell a story that way. I am the character and so far i work best leaping around oddly so i’ve read everything from pigment and their physical chemistry to cookbooks so far. I have some research left to see where benzoil as in benzoil peroxide acne medication might have a natural analogue in strawberries . I already know superfoods like say acai, pomegranate, blueberries good stuff really but a white castle versus them? nutritionally thats odd but the fast food wins every time and in general there is a lot going that is faddish when dealing with nutrition. … I feel utter rebellion coming on. and while i may not novel write, i will write and maybe have something of it 🙂 it’s neat that manganese is a powerful pigment that in glass is slightly purpling or “clears” glass but that purpling is very obvious under black light…but reading that remind me of bursting something into high pressure /tempurature steam. oh and which manganese point? well in one of them it’s necessary to human life as we’ve insulin sensitivity problems without it. or, I have a wild array of things to dribble on about. it’s hopefully going smoothly. you?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. here is where we …I… should be careful. words in a line – lotsa words in a line…snnnnufffed up…ahhhhh, can make a runny nose of a sentence. run on. run on. —- time to revise…. strung out on words as 80’s crap rap! “wouldn’t it be fine – lotsa words in a LINE -string them words like pearls – such language Unfurles. — tell me yo! it ain’t so – word are idea of where to go – but it can get trashy should education be lacking. — strung out onword, lotsa them in a line. strung out on words past the nose inoto my mind, strung out on oops, no comma means CRIME! or, Run on. run on. meke two sentence yeah? do it yo! two sendtences next time.

        Like

    1. It would have been lovely if you were doing the NaNoWriMo at the same time.
      We all can benefit so much from your tips and strategies on writing, for you have there and done that. Why don’t do a post on how to conquer the NaNoWriMo?
      Your cheering on would be really appreciated and welcome! 🙂

      Like

      Reply

      1. you’ve your choice, you can read dreamtimestarmanjones and see thus for yourself i have a fine pile going- or you can take it from me that it’s going nicely- i have a lil idea or two yay they aren’t running out just yet 😀 hopefully you too make nano progress and macro amounts if such is your aim

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I would love to take part but I am doing an intense language course presently so therefore struggling to even share a good thought provoking post for my blog. My exams are around the corner too so it’s quiet a hectic year.

    All the best to those who are taking part.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply

      1. You are so right! A smile and a little joy in the heart goes a long way to counter physical sickness.
        I’ll try to remember that.
        Thank you so much for your concern 🙂

        Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s