Non-writers may be excused if they think that NaNoWriMo refers to an old Mork and Mindy joke, but for writers, this is the acronym for National Novel Writing Month. NaNo is the challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. Even a non-writer should appreciate that this is madness.
This is my second time I’ve thrown my hat in the ring, but this year I’m starting a new novel instead of finishing an existing work in progress. So, yea, this is tough. I’ve spent the lead up time to plot and plan Book 2. I’ve done my writerly exercises, character sketches, and brainstorming sessions, all to make sure that I win NaNo a second time. But winning is more than logging in 50,000 words, it’s about challenging the inner muse and learning more about yourself as a writer.
It’s Day 5 and here are a few things I’ve learned:
- First Draft is painful. I know writers who love this stage–it’s where they can play and create and just have fun. Not me. I wish I could skip right past this stage and get to Second Draft where I can edit and prune and nurture the fledgling prose. But right now it’s vomit on the page. The only thing that cheers me up about this stage is that those writers who love First Draft, and who are currently skipping in a field of daisies, tend to hate Second Draft. There is justice in the world.
- Embrace the crap. There’s nothing you can do about this except keep on writing no matter how bad it is. Somewhere in that garbled mess of words a spark will fan and something good will be salvaged. Repeat the following mantra: It’s crap and it’s ok to be crap.
- Keep writing. Except when Poldark is on and you are a historical fiction author. Even if Poldark is not set in your era or your setting, or even if you aren’t writing historical fiction, it doesn’t matter. You are allowed to break for Poldark.
- I’ve become an expert at Moonlight Mahjong.
- I’ve never had to negotiate writing time with myself, and this is unsettling. Writing is my guilty pleasure, and words normally surround me. Except for now. The situation is faintly reminiscent of my childhood when I was forced to eat liver.
- I’m really competitive. All my writing buddies out there are at least 2,000 words ahead of me and don’t waste their time whining about the unfairness of First Draft. They get on with it, as they should, and their dedication to this process is making me determined to catch up. I will put away Moonlight Mahjong, PVR Poldark and get right back in the race. This is the beauty of NaNo. We’re all in it together.
If you’re doing NaNoWriMo this month, drop me a line and let me know how you’re coping. Now to get back to work.
PS: Check out what happens to me on Day 10.