The Practice of Creativity

I’m Gearing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or ‘Going Big’: Are You?

Posted on: October 27, 2014

Every first draft is perfect because all the first draft has to do is exist. It’s perfect in its existence. The only way it could be imperfect would be to NOT exist.
Jane Smiley

 What is a fun and intense way to get a lot of writing accomplished in a 30 day period? Participate in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! NaNoWriMo is in its 16th year. Basically a group of writers got together and challenged themselves to ‘binge write’ and complete a novel in a month. Crazy, I know! They found that fast, fresh and uninhibited writing helps get past one’s cranky internal editor. A creative movement and nonprofit (with the same name) was born.

Writing a 50,000 word novel breaks down to a little over 1600 words a day. It’s free to participate and NaNoWriMo runs on an honor system. There’s only one rule. You can write all the character biographies and plot summaries that your heart desires. But, you can’t write one actual word of your novel until Nov 1. How is that for anticipation? (And, when as an adult was the last time you had that bursting at the seams, I-can’t-wait-to-try-this feeling? Not that often, right?)

Then on November 30th, you upload the novel and the NaNoWriMo staff officially validate the word count.

The goal is get the shape of one’s novel on paper. Bad (or imprecise) words count, in this instance, as much as good words. Making that daily word count is a challenge. Many people do writing sprints on the weekends.

Don’t want to write a novel during NaNoWriMo? OK. There are plenty of folks who use the energy of NaNoWriMo to deepen their writing practice. There are also the ‘NaNo rebels’ who work on graphic novels, poetry collections, etc. The key is to undertake sustained writing and creative activity during the month.

This year, I’m all in.

Participant-2014-Web-Banner

Reasons Why I’m Doing NaNoWriMo

It will be intense and fun!

I’m determined to teach myself how to write a novel from start to finish.

I’m basically a discovery writer or ‘pantser’ meaning that I usually don’t outline my stories or start with the end in mind. I like to write my way into a story. Over the last year, however, I have been pushing myself to do more outlining of longer works. This has felt good and yielded some successes.

I’ve been preparing for this marathon event since the summer. I have wrapped up almost all the edits on the short story collection I’m working on. Additionally, I’ve outlined the idea that I’m working on for NaMoWriMo and have most of the character sketches completed.

I’m not so worried about the daily writing part. That can be a hurdle for many when attempting NaNoWriMo. For me, writing has become a daily routine. I have multiple creative projects going plus my academic life, so there is always more writing to do. I also have become a fan of the Magic Spreadsheet which I have raved about for the last few months. Tracking my words through the MS has increased my output.

Re: the blog: I imagine most of my posts during November will be about my NaNoWriMo progress. But, I am also working on getting some interviews lined up for next month, too.

Motivators

I’m super goal oriented. I want the bragging rights of saying I completed NaNoWriMo.

Intense deadlines motivate me.

I love online writing communities and NaNoWriMo has a fantastic one. A few years ago, I halfheartedly attempted NaNoWriMo, but I didn’t take advantage of the encouraging NaNoWriMo community. I won’t make that mistake again. I also wasn’t on Twitter and I also wasn’t using Facebook as a place to build online community through writing which I do now.

The NaNoWriMo website hosts a treasure trove of information. Looking for the best way to poison someone? Need to know the courtship rituals of medieval Europe were? What exactly are the origins are of Ildiko, a Hungarian goddess? There are moderated forums to access all kinds of help, across all genres of writing. Additionally, there are opportunities to connect with local writers, face to face, by checking out the activity in one’s ‘home region’. Well known writers will also provide ‘pep talks’ during the month.

NaNoWriMo has two things going for it—structure and accountability. The structure is built in—write for 30 days. The more people I let know that I’m doing NaNoWriMo helps with a sense of accountability.

I love card games and growing up I played a lot of Spades. The best part about most games is that it gives you a chance to talk junk, boast and be playful. My friends and I had a saying while playing Spades, “Go big or stay home.” Meaning that when feasible, don’t be timid. Play a trump (a spade), high card or a joker.

NaNoWriMo is all about going BIG. It’s about amateur and professional writers drawing on raw courage, inspiration, and grit to get their ideas onto paper in the midst of their very busy lives.

It’s not easy for creative people to launch their dreams. NaNoWriMo provides a vehicle to push past one’s limits in an intense and fun way.

We are going BIG.

So, what about you? Are you ‘noveling’ this month or using the energy of NaNoWriMo to create something that you’d been dreaming about? I hope so.

If you want to find me on the NaNoWriMo site, my user name is mtberger. Add me as your writing buddy.

 

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7 Responses to "I’m Gearing up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) or ‘Going Big’: Are You?"

ACK!! I am participating in NANOWRIMO but I didn’t know that you couldn’t even begin writing until Nov 1st? I actually wrote the first chapter (or at least a draft of a chapter) this weekend. UGH. Don’t Hate. Can I not participate now? Anyway, I loved your opening quote!

Thanks! That’s great, Anastasia that you are participating in NaNoWriMo. Yes, technically, no more writing until Nov 1.
Spades is the best!

And btw, I am a HUGE spades fan 🙂

Yay! Glad to hear you’ll be doing NaNo this year. I love it and have been doing it for a few years because like you, really intense deadlines motivate me! Good luck getting ready this year. Will be looking forward to updates.

Thanks Kiersi! I forgot that you are an experienced NaNoWriMo person. I will private message you for your tips!!!

Hi Michele, We just had our WriNoShore Kick-Off party and we’re all ready to write. Well most of us are ready. It’s my 5th year and the first one I’m not ready for-yikes! I usually have a strong grasp on my main character, the ending, and what I want for a climatic scene, but this year I just have a few vague ideas none of which I’ve committed to.
I encourage everyone to attend write-ins. Our region has a high success rate that has been attributed to write-in attendance. I recognize that is partially related to not only having writers show up, but our very committed ML (I’m the unofficial one).
Happy Writing!

I’m on same page of Magic Spread sheet as you, but I never remember to go fill it in! I’m terrible at keeping track of things. Oops, you just reminded me, I’m up first for writing the NaNo pep talk.

Hey Lynne,
Thanks for the tips. I know there is a local big kick-off on Saturday. So impressed that you have done many NaNoWriMos and also are an organizer. I’m trying to write a mystery and boy is it challenging to think about plot. But I am pretty excited about starting. Also, I love seeing you on the Magic Spreadsheet…whether you update your numbers or not 🙂

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Michele Tracy Berger

Michele Tracy Berger

Author, Academic, Creativity Expert I'm an award winning writer.

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