Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In which I seek help with NaNoWriMo 2010

The blog posts here automatically get ported to Facebook (at a snail's pace, but they get there) so there might be some people reading this that don't know what "NaNoWriMo" is beyond thinking it's some sort of comically miniature organization.  Not quite - it's a rather lengthy acronym for National Novel Writing Month.  I guess it should really be InterNaNoWriMo because it really is an international event that gets publicity all over the Internet.  Either way, it shall be known from here on as "NaNo" for (even) short(er).

I've participated a couple of times - the first few times when it was a smaller event, I don't think I even got a word of a story on the page.  Last year was my most successful attempt, though I still didn't reach the 50,000 word landmark to "win" the "competition".  There is a very simple reason for this: I procrastinate and make excuses for not finding the time to write.

There is another reason, and it's also why I am going back and forth in my head about my participation in the 2010 edition of NaNo.  I've discovered in the last few months that I am much more attuned to writing non-fiction than fiction.  Sure, I know critically what makes a good story, but I have difficulty writing a good story.  Sure, I could practice and get better, but I find it more natural to write non-fiction and communicate from my perspective instead of a made-up character's perspective.

When I read an article or essay I've written, I can often look back at it with pride, knowing that I think it's good.  When I read a story I've written, I don't usually react the same way.  I think it's not good enough, that I could do better. 

I also struggle with editing fiction.  It just doesn't come as easily as editing, for instance, an essay.  With fiction, it's like I've written something in French and am trying to correct the grammar.  I can get by, but it will still look a little sloppy.

Still, NaNo is tempting.  If you win - that is, write 50k words in 30 days - you get a lot of goodies.  One of them is a free proof of your book at CreateSpace.  It's not the most professional looking thing, and definitely not the same as getting published, but for my writing level it's a pretty neat thing.  This is why I always think about taking part in the grueling task that is forcing yourself to write 50k words.

What should I do?  I have some ideas for a novel if I were to take part.  If I do this, I don't think I would do any kind of planning ahead of time - just wing it.  As long as I write 1,667 words a day, that's all that matters for this undertaking.  Opinions, anybody?


  1. Go, Steve, go! What's the worst that could happen? You might not be satisfied with the story you get out of it, but sometimes the important part isn't finishing the piece or even being happy with it but learning things about yourself and your own writing process as you work on it, no?

    And there's no rule that says you can't go back to whatever you created or started during NaNo and rework it to your satisfaction at whatever pace you please (or that you can't throw it in the recycle bin and chalk it off as a learning experience, for that matter)... well, I don't know much about NaNo, so maybe there are those rules, but probably not, right?

  2. I definitely did learn a few things along the way last year so I agree that NaNo is definitely a helpful tool when it comes to writing.

    I am leaning more toward doing it, but still haven't decided.

  3. You know what? I'm going to throw myself into this. I will commit to 1667 words a day, and make it a goal to have it finished in 30 days instead of hanging loosely at the end. That might make me more willing to try to do something with it.

  4. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!!