Enjoying the ride: NaNoWrimo 2010

(Oops) I did it again.

Signed up for NaNoWriMo 2010. I hadn’t intended to, but my inner editor has been such a bitch this year (at one point, deleting 75% of my 2010 writing output before it got anywhere near a final draft), that I’m kicking her out for the whole of November.

Next question. Am I writing a novel? Tricky one. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is that you dedicate 30 days of your life to producing (at least) 50,000 words (the equivalent of a first draft/short novel) which you can later edit, re-write and hone into something magical and worthwhile. My problem is I’m not a novelist.

It’s taken me two years of NaNo’ing to discover this. I’m good at condensing concepts / ideas into a single, or series of, images – what I’m not designed to do is expand an idea to fill a 500, 600, or 700 page novel. It is just not me. I’m a macro>micro kind of writer. Short fiction (or other forms with small word counts ) is my thing.

So (a further question), why do NaNo? In 2008 (the first year I did it) – I wrote 65k words of freewrite over three weeks – pure stream-of-consciousness stuff that Kerouac would have been proud of (if he’d been stuck in my kitchen instead of On the Road). It was never going to be a novel, but I realised that I’d got a stock pot of ideas that I still occasionally dip in and out of it to see if there are any tasty bits left). It was worth the ride.

Last year (NaNo 2009), I aimed to write the first draft of a novel and though I got to 50k+ words, I knew I’d failed. Much of my ‘novel’ was composed of what I decided to call ‘interludes’ – stuff I wrote just to keep writing (for this is what you have to do, no time to stop and rework; going back and giving up is not something I like to do!). Again I’ve used these ‘interludes’ (far more creative than anything I’d written in the ‘novel’ sections) as a wordy stock pot, and I’m still working some of these sections up into short short stories and poems.

This year, I’ve decided in advance that I’m going to do 30 freewrites, to a 2000 maximum word limit every day in an attempt to generate enough first drafts to nourish me through (at least) the first half of 2011. It’s probably not what the Office of Letters & Light intended when they started NaNoWrimo, but three years in, I know that this is how it works for me.

Finally, I read a great post this morning on how to silence your inner critic (thanks to Andy Shack). Excellent advice for anyone doing NaNo: (hint) I shall be using a lot of #‘s and #note in my NaNo text.

If anyone else out there is doing NaNoWrimo this year, leave your (NaNo) name in the comments below. Mine’s dotseven. Good luck, see you there on 1 November.

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6 Comments

  1. NaNoWriMo showed me that I *am* a novelist, but if doing it gives you material to use in other ways, that’s wonderful. This will be my fifth year and maybe my second win. I’m Catana there, too.

    Off now, to check out How to Silence Your Inner Critic. Though my inner critic is steadily weakening, thank goodness.

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  2. That’s excellent – I’m still hoping that if I don’t pressure myself something will ‘click’, but hope my strategy at least (as you say) gives me material to work with. Maybe I’ll find a way of linking my 30 sections! I’ll go and add you now. Best wishes. Diane

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  3. Hi Diane. Thanks for spreading the word about the useful #.
    Must admit I like your take on Nanowrimo, hadn’t considered using it as a focused freewriting event.
    Wishing you the very best of luck in November.

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  4. It’s a great article (found it via @BubbleCow) and thanks for the good wishes! I’ll go back and find you on Twitter now!

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  5. Hi Tania – Thanks. I wasn’t sure about it either – but now I’ve worked out a strategy for getting the most out of it, I think it’s worth it!

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