People tend to have a “love it” or “hate it” opinion of NaNoWriMo, the creative writing project challenging its participants to write a 50,000 word novel in a month.
Those who hate it claim it leads to an influx of terrible-quality novels being unleashed upon the world.
Those who love it say it is an exercise in discipline and promotes routine.
I am firmly in the “love it” camp, but with a pretty big sidenote:
Writing 50,000 words does not equate a finished novel. Even if you complete an entire story within 30 days, what you’ll get when you “win” NaNoWriMo is a first draft. And it’s going to suck balls. That’s okay*, but it doesn’t mean that by completing NaNoWriMo you automatically have a book ready to sell. Writing a book is about so much more than that initial draft, and it irritates me when people assume that slamming 50,000 words on a screen is all there is to it**.
More info on the challenge can be found on the NaNoWriMo web site.
Me personally, I aim to have a complete first draft of Divided They Fall finished by the end of NaNoWriMo 2013.
I say complete, because I technically wrote Divided They Fall for NaNoWriMo in 2010, which I “won” by writing over 50,000 words (the competition’s only stipulation).
However, what I actually wrote that year were 50,000 of the words that I wanted to: the exciting scenes, the in-between bits, the climax, while leaving these huge gaps throughout the story, gaps I really had no way to fill, when December rolled around.
It was a problem of mine, in the beginning of my writing journey: writing scenes out of order, if there were scenes I didn’t like the prospect of working on. Problem being, of course, that once you’ve written all the scenes you wanted to write, all you’re left with is the ones you don’t, as well as still needing a coherent narrative to merge everything together. I used to write solely in that way, and then I’d get frustrated and wonder why I could never complete a draft.
I like to think I’ve come a way since then, having written two complete novels since 2010***, and for the most part, working in a linear fashion.
I don’t know yet what my daily target word count for NaNoWriMo will be, as I don’t know what my starting figure will be.
I will be restarting the count to fit the NaNoWriMo competition rules (for example, as at today, I have 35,943 words written, and I am aiming for 100,000 words total. If a minimum of 50,000 words of it will have to be written between the 1st and the 30th of November, and I write nothing else between now and the start of NaNoWriMo, my target will be 64,057 words, at a rate of 2,135 words a day.)
As the competition is to write a minimum of 50,000 words, if I finish the book before the end of November and haven’t reached the 50k mark, I will then work on A Demon’s Share, which is approximately 10k worth of short story.
The chances of that happening are very slim, and it’s more likely that by November 30th I’ll be crying in a corner asking why nothing ever turns out like it should.
If you are taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, add me.
* Just because first drafts are allowed to suck doesn’t mean you have permission to slack off. Write to the best of your ability. Your future self will thank you for it, when the editing wagon rolls around.
** There are exceptions to every rule, and maybe you’re the person who can vomit up 50k and turn it into a NYT Bestseller in time for Christmas. But if that’s you, you are not the norm.
*** Yes, The Genesis is technically a rewrite from 2009, which is a rewrite from 2006, which is a rewrite from 2000. Never learning when let go of a project was another of my earlier mistakes in writing, although I do stand by my decision to rewrite The Genesis for its 2012 release, which I am now (almost) entirely happy with.