The NaNoWriMo Challenge

nanowrimo2I’ve always been one of those people who’s turned up her nose at NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

The thought of pumping out 50,000 words in one month seems like an exercise in typing, in quantity, in well … producing crap!

Sure, Hemingway said that “the first draft of anything is crap,” and Anne Lamott gave us all permission to write shitty first drafts. But, in my snobbery, I’ve always wondered if there’s more at stake. Doesn’t this type of exercise teach us to put quantity over quality? Doesn’t it train us to glaze over emotion and insert stock experiences? Isn’t it an excuse to skip the difficult parts of a novel?

Of course … I’ve never done NaNoWriMo.

Which is the problem with my snobbery. I’ve decided NaNoWriMo isn’t valuable before ever giving it a shot.

It’s natural for me to be wary, NaNoWriMo goes against all the rules of my process. Yes, I’m one of those people who revises while she writes the first draft. I spend hours on a paragraph finding the right words. I spend a week on a single scene looking for the hot-white emotional center of it before I can move forward. I never write the dang thing and don’t look back.

But could there be value in NaNoWriMo? Could it help me to teach my editor brain to shut up and unlock unknown creativity? Might it force me to create stronger time management skills? Is it possible that trying a new process might unveil writing techniques I’d never allowed myself to consider.

Possibly.

I won’t know unless I try it.

Hands-inThus, I’ve decided to lower my nose and give the NaNoWriMo challenge a whirl! I’ve also enlisted a few of my writer friends to participate in the challenge as well. (It’s always good to have a support group as we race to complete 1667 words a day).

That means this blog is going to be a little NaNo-centric in the next few months. I’ll share preparation tips this month before we get started (which should be helpful to any of you also doing NaNo!). And I’ll give you my opinion of the experience after the fact.

It’s always good to try new things? Right?

Let’s all drink to shitty first drafts!

10 thoughts on “The NaNoWriMo Challenge

  1. I used NaNoWriMo a few years ago for my first novel (won), then my current WIP (lost) and then Camp Nano in April for a novella. It’s exhilarating (once you get used to never looking back).

    Good luck!

    Laura

  2. Good luck in your challenge. I did it last year and “won.” I was stuck at a point in my memoir, so I spent my challenge writing page after page of dialogue for the third portion of my book. This gives me fodder to edit and helped me figure out where to end my story.

  3. I’m going to do NaNo too. Last year was my first time and I found it a good way to crank out words, thus giving me a draft to work from. However, I’m not a published author like you, so I will be very interested to read your tips and experience along the way. I’m NitaHoliday on the site, and I welcome any fellow NaNo folk as buddies (is that what you call it over there??).

    I lift my drink to you and NaNo! Good luck!
    http://loveandlaundryblog.wordpress.com

  4. I’d always been a NaNo snob too, tried it for the first time last year and – holy crap – what a difference! Rather than laboring through the draft I got it over with and could move on to the fun revising and fine-crafting parts. That book is on sub now (or with Melissa about to go out) and I’m mostly through fast drafting another (I couldn’t wait for Nov). Good luck – I hope you find it productive!

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