This coming Thursday begins the month of November, and also the start of National Novel Writing Month (known to all the cool kids as NaNoWriMo). I decided it would be a good idea to give this a try.
I’m not going to lie. I’m pretty intimidated by the whole thing. I’ve been blogging pretty regularly since about 2003, and I did a lot of creative writing in high school and college, but I’ve never tried anything on this scale.
It’s not the length that’s got me worried. The “rules” of NaNoWriMo say you should shoot for a 50,000 word novel in the span of a month. That’s about 1667 words per day, which is, oddly, right around the average length of my blog posts on Critical Hits. If my mind is open and the words are flowing, I can do that in an hour. If it’s not and they aren’t, that’s about three hours of pain — but at least the work of the day can get done.
I’m more worried about plenty of other things.
I wonder if I can make something of that length that will engage the reader long enough to want to finish it. I’ve heard from several people that this event isn’t about making something good or editing, it’s about brute force writing until your arms fall off until it’s out. Then you edit.
I’m worried about having the stamina and the focus to finish. I started this blog in the hopes of keeping my momentum going, and a weekend trip and a nasty sinus infection later I’d fallen off the wagon and wandered off into the woods. I can’t find the statistic, but only something like 14% of NaNoWriMo attempts actually succeed. Fortunately, I have several cohorts who are also taking this journey with me: my dear friends Phil and Malcolm. Having a support/nag system in place is likely going to drive me insane, but also keep me from straying. I’m really looking forward to seeing what they come up with.
As for me, I have the premise and most of plot of my story worked out, and I’m figuring out how to put the pieces together. I’ve been fiddling with Scrivener, and I’ll be laying these ideas out in said Scrivener tomorrow so I can hit the ground running on Thursday.
I know why I’m concerned about not finishing, but I can’t really pinpoint why I’m nervous about the entire business of writing a novel. I’ll be glad to get started just so the waiting is over. Maybe I’ll figure it out on the way.
To everybody doing NaNoWriMo this year, especially my dog-brothers in writing Phil and Malcolm: may your pens become king by their own hands, and wear their heavy crowns upon a troubled brow.
But that is another story.