It’s that time of year when my Twitter and Facebook feeds are full of Word Wars between author friends, ideas for quick writerly snacks, and great motivational quotes about writing. It’s National Novel Writing Month, and I’ve been a participant officially or unofficially for the past six years. This year I had plans to join in the fun again, but my word count is currently in the negative numbers. And I’m making peace with the fact that I probably won’t have a shiny new manuscript finished by November 30. But I will have a revised and polished novel to send to my agent.
I had ambitious plans for this month. I wanted to be finished with revisions on the one book, so I could start November with a complete rewrite of a previous NaNo project. I’m keeping the main characters and the backstory, but creating an entirely new plot for them. And I realized I have no idea what that plot should be, so I’d be writing by the seat of my pants. A first for me, because I’m usually a “no-pants” writer. I need my story map to tell me where the story needs to go, even when I’m fast-drafting. Going plot-less would be an exercise in thinking outside of the box for me. But for right now, the revisions on the almost-ready-for-agent-to-see book are a priority. And I don’t want to rush this one. Besides, I’m really in love with these characters and don’t want to let them go just yet.
There are pros and cons for writing a first draft in thirty days, and you can find writers weighing in on both sides all over the internet. It pushes you to finish, which is empowering in itself. It offers a community (actually, several communities within a community) of writers and it’s wonderful when everyone is writing and cheering each other on and discussing plot and setting and how to sneak in a few extra words while cooking the Thanksgiving turkey. There are NaNo forums for YA writers, for mystery writers, for fan-fiction writers, even for NaNo writers who also play RPG’s. I was tickled to see how many NaNo writers are playing The Old Republic on my server. My fourteen year old hangs out online with people who write fan fiction based on video games. (And she wrote 11K words the first weekend alone. Obviously, she does not need Word Wars with me for motivation.)
NaNoWriMo not for everyone. After reading Maggie Stiefvater’s Dear John letter to NaNo, I feel much better about my decision to continue plodding along with my current revisions and save the current twinkling of an idea for later. Or that sparkly new character that just showed up yesterday in my imagination? Maybe next November.
Several of my 2K12 Classmates are NaNo alumni (Megan Bostic’s NEVER EIGHTEEN, began as a NaNo novel) and many of them are participating again this year, so please help me cheer them on. And to anyone else who’s taking the plunge, best of luck to you. Elana Johnson has tips for getting through the month, and I like Susan May Warren’s NaNo preparations too. They can be applied to any novel, not matter how fast (or how slow) you write.