Every November, writers around the world disappear into a universe called NaNoWriMo – or National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo started way back in July 1999 in San Francisco, USA but all writers love a challenge – the crazier the better – and it quickly spread to writers everywhere. I wouldn’t be that surprised if the Mars Writing Group is logging their daily word count too.
What is NaNoWriMo? The challenge is to write a 50000 word novel over the 30 days of November. That’s around 1666 words every day. Roughly.
So far more than 9 million words have been logged by writers around the world, with nearly half a million writers frantically putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Everyone has a strategy about how to get those 1666 words. My writing friend Lisa penned her theory and it’s a worthy read. Read it here.
This is my first NaNoWriMo and I haven’t slipped behind on my daily par word count as yet. It’s a pleasant distraction from other crazy stuff around the world. And by “pleasant”, I obviously mean “excruciating but probably worthwhile, maybe”.
If you’ve read my “Red Inks” collection, my NaNoWriMo manuscript is a continuation of the story “Pursued”. A woman carries a pouch with unknown contents across an unnamed land in an unidentified time. I’ve been having a ball chasing her around the mystery land and meeting up with all sorts of people – good and evil. Developing this short story into a full length novel was suggested by quite a few readers. It was always supposed to be a novel but I couldn’t figure out how to make it one. I had the beginning and the end and bits of the middle but it lacked cohesion. In truth, it made so little sense; it would have been a time-travel pseudo-romance fantasy historical novel. To prepare for NaNoWriMo, I wrote out a rough plot.
I never plot my stories except in my head.
Ahem, it seems as though a written plot was the answer to my problem on this story.
One excellent outcome of the NaNoWriMo phenomenon is that writers gather to discuss their writing – sometimes in person but often online. Four of my own writing group are undertaking the challenge. We email each other daily lamenting our writing patheticness or when we kick a writing goal (essentially getting beyond the 1666 words/day). We have also been entertaining each other with our first sentence and last sentence for the day. These two sentences can either make no sense or be hilarious. For example, I’ll share my last paragraph from yesterday’s word count with the panicked caution that this is a rough first draft (NaNoWriMo discourages editing during November):
“The man ran at me with a sword. Two daggers would have been most helpful at this time. I crossed my blades above my head in time to resist the sword. I used the impact to drive him backwards. He was strong and quickly had me taking three steps in the wrong direction.”
With over 24000 words already clocked up on this manuscript, I’m really looking forward to pressing on to 50000 and potentially publishing this story. And I’m excited to read the final efforts of my fellow writing group members.
As a side note, I will owe a debt to Brazilian coffee growers come 30 November. Their fine beans have seen me through many a creative stumble this month.