Me: I have a 50,000-word novel due at the end of the month.
Sigo: What happens if you don’t get it done?
Me: That’s not gonna happen.
Sigo: But what happens if you don’t get it done?
Me: Well, that’s not gonna happen, but if it did, let’s just say the universe would end at that point. So I’ve gotta make sure that doesn’t happen.
November is National Novel Writing Month. Participants commit to starting, finishing, and submitting (for an official word count) an original novel of at least 50,000 words during the month of November. It doesn’t have to be a good novel, or even a properly written novel with clean spelling, punctuation, and structure. It just has to be at least 50,000 words of “novel.”
On the first of the month I put my current novel-in-the-works on the back burner and signed up as a NaNoWriMo neophyte. I hoped to use the pressure of NaNoWriMo to finally bust out of my self-editing OCD. And writing a novel in one month would be pretty incredible too.
My first couple weeks were full of procrastination, and I adapted this Three Stooges skit:
Pal: Hiya, Pal!
Me: You call me pal? Why, I haven’t heard that word for years. You know bub, I once was a naïve author like you.
P: Oh congratulations!
M: Ah, but it wasn’t always thus; I can look back to the days of yore when I was a very happy naïve writer. Then one day, that rat came and destroyed forever the all the naïvety I’d ever known. I’ll never forget that day, I just sat down at my computer after a full day of not writing, and there was an open invitation in my inbox.
P: What did it say?
M: Oh it was one of those cold-blooded invitations: “Dear Writer: Write a novel in one month.” I was obsessed with the idea that I could do it. The trail led me to Twitter; I found I missed starting by three days when I got there. And I swore right there on Twitter I’d do it and have my glory; now on with the chase. Wikipedia, Facebook, WordPress. And then I came face to face with the rat that had taken over my life, it was in “NANOWRIMO,” “NANOWRIMO!” Slowly I wrote, and step by step, inch by inch, I walked up to it, and I smashed it, I hit it, I bonked it, I bopped it, I mashed its face and I wrote the words down!
P: Ooh, ooh! Take it easy bud, take it easy!
M: Excuse me kid, it’s that word, “NANOWRIMO,” Every time I hear it tears me apart!
So what have I learned at the half-way mark? . .
1. Writing 1,667 cohesively sensible words a day is hard.
2. After not writing 1,667 words a day, writing 2,000 cohesively sensible words a day is even harder.
3. Sub-plots set in bars and night clubs are fun and easy to pound out.
4. A 50,000+ word novel written in one month is the same as a 50,000+ word cartoon written in one month, but also includes weariness-induced spelling, grammatical, continuity, and logic errors.
5. Heed T. S. Eliot’s advice.
And now I must NaNoWriMo . .
11-30-10: I’m a WINNER with 50,002 words!