I signed up for NaNoWriMo this year. If you have no idea what that means, you can clink the link for deets, but the gist is that you - and more than two-hundred thousand other people who've signed up - write a fifty-thousand word novel in a month. I've never tried it before, but the timing this year seemed perfect: my last novel is out of my hands and I have an idea I'm excited to work on. So, why not? And then there was a hurricane.
And school was cancelled for a week...and counting.
This is a big deal since my writing time is the two-and-a-half hours Monday through Friday when all kids are in school. And, between conference days, Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, none of the other weeks of November are full school weeks either.
So, yeah, maybe not the best month to try to write a novel.
Except...that's kind of the whole point of NaNo.
One thing I hear a lot is: when do you find the time to write? I could never do that. And my answer is always: yes, you could. if you wanted it badly enough. There are a LOT of people who write novels faster and with a lot less time on their hands than I've got. There's never a great time to write a book, minutes never magically appear and there are always plenty of reasons why you can't. Even during my dedicated writing time, I often find my attention wandering - usually to completely useless stuff. I'm resting, I sometimes tell myself, recharging brain cells...which is complete rubbish.
So, this is why I signed up for NaNo. Because sometimes you just have to dig in and do it. My first drafts usually take me months - I think six to eight is the shortest ever - and I wanted to see if a more disciplined approach would help me work faster. Of course, I had to waste a little time breaking it down so I'd know what I was facing:
Fifty-thousand words breaks down to one-thousand six-hundred sixty-six per day over thirty days. That's about six pages a day (you generally count each 250 words as a page) which is a lot. I'm going into NaNo with something I've already started which is technically cheating. I don't think I'll count as someone who's officially "won" NaNo, but I'm okay with that since I'm just trying to finish the book.
Since I'm already 13,850 words in, my goals and daily counts and such are adjusted accordingly. And I'm going to do my tracking weekly because there are some days I won't get to write at all. My goal is 8,435 words per week or thirty-four pages which should get me close to the 50,000 total by the end (for some reason my numbers didn't add up exactly right. Whatever. Math is not my strong suit.)
If you've ever thought about writing a book, its not too late to join. Check out the NaNo site. There are lots of great tips, forums, writer communities that can motivate and encourage, even live write-in sessions in lots of places...whatever kick in the pants you might need, you'll probably find it there.
If you've already signed up for NaNo, good luck! And - in one of those moments when you need to give your brain a minute to recharge - check out the KidLit Cares auction Kate Messner is hosting on her blog. Funds raised go to the Red Cross for Hurricane Sandy relief efforts and there are some agent, editor and writer critiques available that will be perfect for your soon-to-be-finished novel. Feedback from industry professionals is worth its weight in gold...truly.
I'm planning to check in at least weekly with my progress and thoughts on whether NaNo is working for me. But now, I'm down to thirty-seven minutes of writing time so I've gotta go.
Hopefully, it'll be a good month to write a novel after all.