Are you signed up for NaNoWriMo this year? Of course you are.
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an annual celebration of writing fiction, although around the second week it feels more like a punishment. Here’s the official definition:
What is NaNoWriMo?
National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and — when the thing is done — the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.
I have participated twice — I signed up a third year but barely even started and gave up almost before I began. The two times I applied myself I created completely crappy drafts of novels, just over 50,000 words each. One of these I’m in the midst of improving and revising, the other is waiting in the wings. But as I haven’t been writing or revising much of anything for the past year (!!!), I am embarking once again down the WriMo road to create a terrible first draft that I hope to later turn into a masterpiece. Along the way I fully intend to jumpstart my writing, so as to make the other novels come back to life.
I don’t want to let myself fail, so I hereby promise to post on this page a brief update every day in November, regarding progress or lack thereof. I’m going to do a small bit of preparation before November — all approved in the official manual of NaNoWrimo, No Plot, No Problem (written by founder Chris Baty). I’ll post about the preparation here too.
So far I have a working title. It’s going to change for sure, but let me announce it now anyway so as to make this as official as possible. The working title is Love in the Time of Caller-ID.
(I hope there’s no bad portent in the fact that I’ve not read any Gabriel Garcia Marquez novel through to the bitter end….)
And will you be diving insanely into a new novel too next month? Please let me know and we’ll urge each other on.
And don’t be telling me that you’re not a writer, you can’t write a novel. I promise you can. Note that the only excuse I accept for not participating in NaNoWriMo is that you are currently hard at work every day revising some other novel.
The gauntlet is cast at your feet. Pick it up.