Monday, October 28, 2013

Fifty (Thousand) Frantic Words

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for those who have never summoned the courage to try it...for those who are (bluckbluckbluck) chicken.
Yeah, courage. I'm trying to rile you up. Is it working? 
What is NaNoWriMo, you ask? It's a network of writers all over the world who are hoping to tap out 50,000 in November. It's simple to begin. You create an account, and beginning November 1, you work on your novel. The site keeps track of your word count, along with updating little bar graphs that show your progress (or lack of, if the bar doesn't grow for a few days).
It's also simple to physically connect to other NaNo-ers. All over St. Louis and St. Charles are write-ins and get-togethers aimed at keeping you on track.
Unfortunately, it's also simple to crash and burn. I've had two years where I've wrapped my novel around a huge tree trunk, and ended up going up into the sky in a enormous fireball. Last year, I got to 42,000-something, which makes me a loser, but in my opinion, I was a winner. During that short month (which has a major landmine--Thanksgiving--but I'm sure your family won't mind if you drag a plate back to your lair so you can keep on writing while you ignore the family festivities and hey--if you are supposed to be responsible for cooking the holiday meal, just shriek repeatedly, "I am writing a book! Leave me alone!" They'll understand. And they'll be content with some cold hot dogs straight from the fridge), I made a great deal of progress on my story.
And this year I'm back. I'm hoping to finish my novel sometime before January, so I can start to seriously revise it in the spring.  
The big surprise is once you begin writing, and once you banish your inner critic to another solar system for the next 30 days, the surrender leads to the story writing itself. Different plot twists rear their heads at surprising spots. You're not in control of the story any more. The story is rolling out in front of you on its own power. You no longer scrutinize every word as you write--"Just get the story down," becomes your mantra. And NaNo helps you develop discipline (if you don't already have an overabundance of the stuff). Writing every day becomes a habit.
So be brave. Go to to get more details. 
But most importantly, write...