For the third year in a row, I'm taking the challenge. National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, starts November 1, and I'm prepping for my 2020 project, a women's fiction set on Lake Erie (because that's my jam) with plenty of family drama (write what you know?) and quirky characters (careful, or you'll end up in my novel).
The goal? To write 50,000 words—essentially a short novel—in a month, something I managed in both 2018 and 2019. NaNoWriMo was a game-changer for me. I ultimately cleaned up my messy, ugly first draft of "Sutton's Choice" (2018). The final product—many drafts later and now 80,000 words—is in the query trenches, and my 2019 project is in the editing phase.
I'm stoked. On Nov. 1, I'll start something quite new. And how about you? Want to join me?
1. To get the story down. In 2018 and 2019, I did not have time to second-guess every word. To meet the goal, I had to quickly lay the roots of the story and worry about the nuances later. This stopped my natural tendency to overanalyze my grammar and ideas, and it allowed me to write more freely/naturally.
2. To have a goal with concrete deadlines. I love a challenge, and NaNoWriMo is definitely that. I work best when I have a deadline. Since I take due dates seriously, not following through would have been a fail for me.
3. To create accountability. "Announcing" on my website and on Facebook that I was participating in NaNoWriMo nudged me to follow through. By going public in 2018 and 2019, and keeping my readers apprised of my word count progress, I was compelled to prove (to myself and everyone) that I could finish. I'm hoping to prove the same in 2020!
4. To feel a part of something. Writing can be a lonely sport. NaNoWriMo is like a month-long writing workshop at which you can ask anyone anything, at anytime, via the Internet and Facebook NaNoWriMo groups, and get multiple answers to your questions PLUS amazing peer encouragement. NaNoWriMo is a wonderful support system.
5. To provide a rhythm to writing. NaNoWriMo made me a more efficient writer. Knowing I had only 30 days, I wrote daily (regardless of how difficult the subject matter or how easily I could have invented excuses to delay a tricky chapter if I "wasn't feeling it"). I allowed myself to back up and edit just 1-2 pages each day, so I'd get my editing fix in without taking hours away from my writing time. This also allowed me to quickly regain the rhythm of the story and plow full steam ahead with something new each day.
6. To finish. Messy or not, complete or not, I managed a "first draft" (twice). Though NaNoWriMo 2018 and 2019 produced rough, rough, rough first drafts, the results were still something of which I am very proud. Only with a finished first draft could I reasonably begin edits on a publishable final draft.
NaNoWriMo is not for everyone, but for those who can look past the messy first draft, and see the nugget of gold beneath, the process is totally worth the time and effort.
Ready? Set. Go! Good luck and happy writing, my NaNoWriMo friends.
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