Wednesday, October 3, 2012
NaNo: Pros and Cons
Above: One of my photo collages where I've manipulated the colors to look unearthly.
NaNo, National Novel Writing Month, is less than a month away. Have you ever taken part? Should you participate this year?
The goal for Nano is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the month of November. The words must be new, and you're not allowed to start writing until November first. One can, however, plan.
But first, why do it in the first place? The 50,000 word goal means 1667 or so new words every day. That's an ambitious goal, especially if, like me, you have a day job.
The first year I did NaNo was 2010, and I decided to participate solely to overcome my phobia about writing science fiction. I'm a huge fan of the genre, and I've been reading since elementary school, so I could hardly claim unfamiliarity with the conventions. But I was intimidated by the world-building. In late September of 2010, I decided to take the plunge, and spent the next month mostly engaged in world-building. I spent a short amount of time on the plot: figured out my main character, his father, the father's boss, and several other characters who went out the window when I started writing. I had a page of plot notes, most of which, again, fell by the wayside once I started to write.
So I wrote the first draft, discovered a website with an awesome editing thing for January, signed up, spent from January through June editing, and actually had the novel accepted for publication. It came out in late July. I also wrote another novel for 2011 Nano, and yet another sometime in between. I'm still editing the latter two.
So what did I learn? Well, I had a heck of a good time, and I discovered that world-building wasn't as intimidating as I thought it was. I've learned something about my writing process. And I've learned that there's an awful lot to be said for simply showing up on the page. Is it at the top of my list of ways to improve my writing? No. Will I participate this year? I'm trying not to, as I want to finish editing the two I'm working on now. Will I end up heeding the siren-call of the new novel and new character I dreamed about a couple of nights ago? Only time will tell.
Margaret Fieland is the author of Relocated, available at major online booksellers and on the publisher's website