Deep breath….Ok, I officially signed up to participate in NaNoWriMo, as it’s called. November is National Novel Writing Month, where lots of people declare to write that novel they’ve always (or never) dreamed of writing. The rules are simple. You’re not allowed to write a single word of prose until November 1st, and on November 30th at 11:59pm, it’s pencils down, fingers stop typing. “Novel” is defined as a document containing at least 50,000 words of nonfiction writing. Pre-game plot outlines, character outlines and other things are fine, you just can’t start the actual prose writing until November first.
To keep participants motivated, their website recommends broadcasting to absolutely everyone that you’re working on this:
Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.
So posting this here is a good insurance policy that I’ll finish. Hopefully. Otherwise, I have to come back in December and sheepishly declare to the Internet at large that I was not able to complete a measly 50,000-word document within a month’s time, so I wimped out and quit. And I don’t really want to do that.
What I like about this is it totally emphasizes quantity over quality. The novel’s going to be bad. That’s a given. Even so, writing even a terrible novel is better than never writing one at all. Just keep cranking out the words. Get it all down in November, then edit and rework in December and beyond. The importance is just getting the ideas written down.
And besides, it’s a little cocky to expect the first novel you write would be awesome, right? I mean when I first started piano, I wasn’t expecting to get famous playing Liszt. I was trying to learn Mary Had a Little Lamb. And I sucked at first. Writing, like learning to play an instrument, takes lots of hard work and practice. It just doesn’t make sense that the first novel I would sit down and write would be anything better than the literary equivalent of “Mary had a little lamb.” But I’ll never write a good one without writing a lot of crappy ones first. Heck, maybe I don’t even want to aspire to write a good one. But I’ll never know if I don’t write a bad one first.
For anyone else participating, my profile username is kalzayer. Find me on http://www.nanowrimo.org/ and we can be writing buddies!