NaNoWriMo: Week 1

November 1 began the writing adventure that is National Novel Writing Month. This year’s theme is “The World Needs Your Novel.” This month I’ll be posting on Monday about my experience the previous week.

Many people over the years have told me that one day they would like to write a novel. I’d been writing for years before I heard about NaNo in 2004, and accepted the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Sound daunting? It is.

This year is my twelfth year participating, and my eleventh year as a Municipal Liaison (the fancy title for those of us who organize local Kick Off parties, weekly Write-Ins, and TGIO parties). Does this help me each year? Yes and no.

Yes, because having done it before I know I can do it again.

No, because each new story is a new adventure in plot, characters, dialogue, setting, theme, and all the other things that go into crafting a compelling read.

Each year I’ve been able to count on having 28 or 29 good writing days in the month. This year I’ll be visiting family (including a new baby!) for Thanksgiving weekend, and I really have only 25 good writing days. Instead of a daily word count goal of 1,667 to reach 50,000 in 30 days, my daily word count is 2,000 words per day.

The first week has gone really well. My word count after the first 7 days was 15,000+ words, so I am where I need to be to get to 50,000 by Thanksgiving. 

The first week is historically easy. The story that you’ve been thinking about for the past few months (or weeks, or days) comes gushing out once November 1 kicks off the month-long writing challenge. It doesn’t need to be coherent, and at this point it isn’t. Writing is rewriting, and that’s what December is for. November is for getting the draft done.

I’m working through my story idea, and although I’ve outlined roughly, once I start working the details I see where the gaps are, what I need to fill in, and who else needs to die (I’m writing a murder mystery). Past events, current events, and my personal life all affect what I’m writing about, and how I write it.

I write an outline with the beginning and end of each act and the midpoint. I include days of the week, so that I don’t have characters reacting on Friday to something that happens Saturday. I print out this rough outline, and pin it to the corkboard in front of my desk. 

This keeps me going when I run dry. I can look at the outline and see what dramatic action needs to occur against the backdrop of solving the mystery. Sometimes I write scenes out of order, when I have one fleshed out and I haven’t gotten to that point yet.

Sometimes I write in circles, trying to find the kernel of the story. I’ve found that keeping my fingers typing on the keyboard, even if it doesn’t seem to be part of the story at the time, can lead to breakthroughs that I might not have gotten to if I had stopped writing for the day. 

When I’m on a roll, I keep going. Having words in the bank, so to speak, makes up for the days I either don’t have enough time to write my 2,000 words, or for the days when the story isn’t coming no matter what tricks I use to tease the muse out from her hiding place.

The good news: I’m on pace. The bad news: My back, hands, and neck ache. Sitting in a chair for as long as I have been, writing as much as 5,000 words in a day, takes a toll. 

I remind myself to stay hydrated, which benefits me in two ways. I function best when I drink about 80 ounces of water a day. When I drink 80 ounces a day, I am getting up at regular intervals and take the opportunity to walk around, shaking out my hands, and stretch out my back.

Week 1 is done.

Week 2 begins.

I’ve Always Wanted to Write a Book!

Is writing a novel sound like something you’ve had on your bucket list? If so, now is the perfect time to get it done and cross it off!

November is National Novel Writing Month, and it is a personal challenge undertaken with a world-wide community. Started in 1999 with 21 writers, it has grown to over 325,000 writers participating around the world.

Chances are good that one of the 615 (give or take) regions is near you. There is support from Municipal Liaisons (MLs), of which I am one (USA::Florida::Treasure Coast). There are forums for every age group, every level of writer, every genre of fiction, and every writing question in general.

The challenge is to write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. This breaks down to 1,667 words a day for 30 days. Think you’ve got it in you? Sign up at nanowrimo.org – it’s easy to do, and there’s no entry fee.

Every state in the US has one or more regions to join, and every region has Kick Off Parties, Weekly Write-Ins, and TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) Parties. Every region has an ML to help you with questions, or direct you to the proper forum for answers.

Writing is a solitary endeavor, but in November you can do it knowing you’re in good company. Pep talks from best-selling authors (Charlaine Harris, Diana Gabaldon) will be delivered. It’s comforting to know that writers at all levels struggle with something, and you may hear from someone whose writing you love that they have the same problem you do.

Sara Gruen wrote Water for Elephants during NaNo. In 2006 it was published by Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing. It was a major motion picture in 2011, starring Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, Christoph Waltz, and Hal Holbrook.

Since NaNo began, over 250 NaNo novels have been traditionally published, and many more have been indie published. 

Will yours be one of them?

National Novel Writing Month: 50,000 words in 30 days

Some of you are writers, and some of you writers will be participating in NaNo. November 1 seemed so far away two months ago, it doesn’t seem possible that it’s just over two weeks away.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNo) began in 1999 with 21 friends in the San Francisco Bay area. Over the years it has grown to be an international event with hundreds of thousands of writers who have the same goal: Write 50,000 words of a novel in 30 days. In 2013, 310,000 adults participated, and 89,500 children took part in the Young Writers Program. 

Who are these writers? Sara Gruen, Hugh Howey, and Chris Baty (the founder of NaNo), among many others. Neil Gaiman, Dave Eggers, and YA authors Rainbow Rowell and John Green are some of the authors who will or have delivered pep talks during NaNo. You can read Hugh Howey’s thoughts about what it takes to be a writer on the NaNo blog.

For mystery and romance fans, Charlaine Harris and Diana Gabaldon will be giving pep talks this year. 

If November 1 is looming large on your horizon, you can alleviate some stress by visiting the NaNo Prep page. You can sign up there for a NaNo Prep webinar that takes place Wednesday, October 14, at 4pm PST

For general information, visit the FAQ here: National Novel Writing Month Frequently Asked Questions, or ask an ML.

What’s an ML? It is a Municipal Liaison, a local NaNo participant who schedules the Kick Off Party, weekly Write Ins, and TGIO (Thank Goodness It’s Over) Party. They’re your first resource for questions posted in the Regional Forum. 

I’ve been an ML for the Vero Beach/Treasure Coast Region since 2005. Come see me in Vero Beach, Fort Pierce at IRSC or the downtown Library, in PSL at the Morningside Library, and in Palm City at the Cummings Library. If you sign up and select Florida::Treasure Coast as your region, you’ll see the calendar with all of the dates, times, and locations.

If writing a novel is on your bucket list, why not do it in November?

Let me know if you do!