NaNoWriMo Eve

Ask most people what October 31st means and they’ll say one thing: Halloween.

Some people will look you in the eye with a slightly manic expression.

NaNoWriMo Eve, they’ll say. Ah, the writers…

The day before the month-long writing extravaganza that is National Novel Writing Month.

I won NaNoWriMo 2011

I did NaNo a couple of years ago (and learned a few things). I’ve even got a copy of the ‘novel’  that I wrote sat on the desk next to me in hard copy. I’ve re-read bits of it, and whilst it’s not entirely terrible, there are huge swathes of it which are completely horrible. My protagonist, the Big Idea for that year’s effort, promptly disappears after the first chapter, only to be rediscovered sometime much later in the story. I have no idea what happened to her. She just… vanished.

That’s the thing about NaNo thought – it’s entirely about the wordcount. Quantity over quality. It forces you to put your butt in the seat and write. Pour the thoughts from your head out of your fingertips and onto the page. There are whole sections of the proto-novel which could easily (and humanely) be removed and replaced with a single line of prose. I also started to lose track of who was doing what to who, and why.

That said, I really enjoyed NaNo in 2011. I got to the end of the month (not necessarily the end of the story, mind you) having turned out something slightly in excess of 50,000 words in thirty days. I’d drunk an awful lot of coffee in the process.

And I’ve written virtually nothing since. Apart from this blog, obviously.  Almost no fiction. Monty, the character who I’ve written the most about, has languished in my subconscious, waiting for the day to come for his hiinks to ensue once more.

So, here I sit, on NaNo Eve, pondering. Do I begin? The excuses are already lined up and waiting – it’s already going to be a busy couple of weeks – this weekend is a write off and we’re getting some decorating done next week for starters. Should I commit myself to another herculean task, churning out another 50k words?

Half of me says yes. Half of me looks at the other half and wonders if the other half is insane. Should I throw Monty at NaNo and see what happens? See if I can get a full story out there?

How about you, dear reader? Have you tackled NaNoWriMo? Are you doing it this year?

NaNoWriMo approaches

It’s that time of the year again when thoughts start to turn to NaNoWriMo.
For those new to NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month (see what they did there?), and takes place in November of each year. The premise is startlingly simple:
You start on November 1st and finish at midnight on November 30th. In those 30 days, you write 50,000 words.

Fifty thousand?” I hear you cry. “Isn’t that like totally a lot?”

Yes. Yes it is. And stop shouting, please..

That’s kind of the whole point. You’ve got thirty days. You need to be averaging 1,666-and-a-bit words per day, so you don’t have time to edit (well, assuming you’ve got other things to do other than write). It’s all about getting that first draft out of your head. Write first, edit later.

(First drafts, by the way, are supposed to suck. That’s the law. You can check if you like.)

Anyway, I did NaNoWriMo last year, and for the first time ever (I’ve tried it several times before), I went over that magic 50,000 word mark.
Not only that, I finished a day early. *polishes winner’s medal*


There were points in the process of writing it where I was literally laughing at how bad it was. The grand plot and character that I’d started on day one sort of fizzled out by day three as I moved over to see some action over *there*. I realised on day… fifteen? sixteen? that the character I’d based the whole story plan around hadn’t been seen for two weeks. I wrote her back in, decided that I didn’t really like her much, and wrote her back out again. These other guys? Doing all the cool stuff over *here*? Far more interesting.
So, it was an experience. It completely drained all of the writing mojo I had though, and I’ve not really written anything much since. I picked up last year’s NaNo recently and started re-reading it. I was surprised that bits of it didn’t actually suck quite as badly as I’d remembered, and bits of it actually sounded like I knew what I was doing. Other bits sounded like someone else had written them.

These were clearly the post-midnight caffeine-fuelled sections. You tend to get a lot of them.

I’ve not decided if I’m doing NaNo again this year. I quite fancy the challenge, but also fancy doing something a bit different.
Watch this space.