Just Around the Corner

NaNoWriMo is almost here. Seriously, it’s a month and two days away. Yet I get Twitter updates saying “33 Days to NaNo!” and I get excited. One of my friends put together an entire challenge to be ready to write a novel in November, and I help her organize it every year (fourth year running).

The energy is gathering among people throwing in their hats, making decisions about what possible project might be good enough to focus so much time and effort. Sometimes we agonize over the big decisions, like can we manage to get enough world-building in the beginning to make it stretch over the novel writing time without slowing down. It’s a particularly large problem for anyone starting a science fiction or fantasy novel of any kind. How do you get enough of the NaNoverse painted if you drive in on Day 1 without any preparation at all?

It was just that question that drives so many of my friends to undertake a small amount of early work before attempting that big novel. We gather and cheer each other on – digitally since we’re geographically diverse – and sometimes even help get past the inevitable block.

The NaNoWriMo challenge is about writing a novel in a month – usually stated at 50,000 words. The problem with that stated challenge is that most novels don’t end at 50k. In science fiction and fantasy, they’re often between 70,000 and 120,ooo words. For young adult it’s much closer to the guidelines. Many of the challenge-takers stop at 50k instead of finishing the book, or they write so that the book ends at 50k. Then when it’s time for the revisions it gets interesting.

On the other hand, you end up with a half-finished novel even if you didn’t finish the challenge, and the rules are all about starting a new challenge next year, rather than finishing something that was an abandoned idea.

Another drawback is that it is difficult to look at that novel when December rolls around. The energy will sap into a stupor as the crowd that cheered everyone to the finish is taking a collective breath and thinking they ought to rejoin their families and friends. Edits are pushed off from December to June to some other future date. I think it’s just difficult to be that dedicated all the time for most people. Fits and starts get me through some edits, but I’m not consistent in that area.

Someday I’ll wrangle a bunch of people into NaNoEdMo with me, not that March is a better time than November but I think the energy of having a group working through the words would be fun and inspiring to get through it.

Who else plans to take a dash at a massive dump of creative words in November? What do you do with your manuscript when you finish (yes, we’re assuming that we’re all going to finish)? Does the creative flow of energy help you get in the spirit of the novel? Do you ever get bogged down by the pressure of 1667 words per day rather than gushing out of a story? I’d love to hear what NaNoWriMo means to you.

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