I'm hoping to make this post quick. You see, I'm working on my own novel writing challenge this month. As JoAnn and Mary Ann have mentioned, November is National Novel Writing Month, also known as NaNoWriMo. Writers from all over the world attempt to complete a 50,000-word first draft during the month of November.
Back in 2008, I had an idea for an historical young adult novel that I wanted to write, but I kept getting bogged down by research. I decided it would make the perfect NaNoWriMo project. The daily word-count quota would force me to stick to the story instead of agonizing over what kind of glassware my character drank from. The only problem: November is a bad month for me, due to family commitments. So I brainstormed with members of my critique group and we decided the best month for a NaNoWriMo-type project was January. Here in the Midwest, January is a great month to hunker down indoors and write like crazy. And, since January is the season of resolutions, what better resolution than to write a new novel? Plus, January has one more day than November. When you're counting words, every day helps. :-)
So, in January, 2009, I banned together with a group of other SCBWI members to work on what we called our New Year/New Novel project, or NYNN (which rhymes with "win"). We called ourselves NYNNies, or writing "fools," and set up a Yahoo group to support each other in our endeavor. We shared tips from a variety of writing books, including No Plot! No Problem, written by NaNoWriMo founder Chris Baty. As facilitator, I also periodically sent links to the NaNoWriMo pep talks from the previous November.
Thanks to the support of the NYNNies, I managed to write (a pretty horrible) first draft of my novel that January. I learned so much about my writing process and how to quiet the internal critic. But perhaps the most important thing I learned is that when I make writing a priority and keep "butt in chair," I can accomplish amazing things.
Unfortunately, when it came to revising the draft of my NYNN novel, I allowed myself to get bogged down in research all over again. I also struggled to find some sort of a plot in the mess that was my first draft. Yet I kept procrastinating. After months of work, I'd managed to eek out little over 30,000 words of a second draft. A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to end the procrastination. I came up with a plan for my own pseudo-NaNoWriMo project. I calculated that I need to add about 37,000 words to finish this draft, and I'd really like to finish it before Christmas. Looking at my calendar, I counted up 36 days (not counting holidays and weekends) that I could commit to working on the draft, beginning October 25. That comes out to about 1050 words/day to reach my target. Having lived through the mad crush of producing 1667 words per day for my original NYNN draft, I knew 1050 words/day was a feasible, though aggressive, goal.
http://www.facebook.com/carmelamartino, but if you send me a friend request, be sure to mention you read this blog. I don't "friend" just anyone. :-) )
If any of you are participating in NaNoWriMo, you're probably too busy writing to read this. And that's as it should be. But if you do have a moment, stop by and let us know how it's going for you.
And for those of you who think NaNoWriMo is a ridiculous idea, you're not alone. See this blog post by author Tayari Jones.
Whether you are a NaNoWriMo writer or not, happy writing!