Tuesday, 3 November 2009

It's That Time Again

My inbox has filled up with messages over the last week from authors announcing that they will be 'unavailable' or in some cases, 'completely out of it', due to their participation in NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writers Month which falls each November. I'm sure I don't have to explain the rules, but authors 'win' the challenge by producing a 50k draft manuscript in 30 days.

I tried it last year, [and won with 60k] because I had an idea in my head and needed a good kick to get me started. There was lots of rewriting to do, which is accepted, but that manuscript is now ready to be submitted.

Fellow Author Emily Bryan has a different take on NaNoWriMo which really made me think. For instance, she says the NaNoWriMo website says:
"Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing." and she asks:
'Why is that a good thing?' Good point, I have never thought to question that statement.

Emily says she prefers to 'only go forward', and to do re-writes in small, manageable increments. '50,000 words of mess would totally overwhelm me.' Her goal is to have a manuscript that, at a pinch, she could send out.

I admit I cannot do that - so NaNoWriMo was good for me to 'get the story down'. I'm a 'snowflaker' in that I build the bones of a story together with the basic dialogue, then I go back and add emotions and inner thoughts, then sprinkle with witty remarks and then the 'fairy dust' , the nuances that give the characters their individuality.

I need to know where my story is going and like Ms Bryan I do historical research first to get a feel for the era, then while I am writing I research again for specifics: like 'What happens at a 17th century Twelfth Night Party'?

We are all different, and there are as many authors as books - so I would be interested to know how many NaNoWriMo winners finally get those embryo manuscripts polished and published.


Mirella Sichirollo Patzer said...

I must admit, I admire anyone who tries this out. One day, I'd love to give it a whirl, but that's a few years away when my little grandson is in school. I also think I'd definitely have to have a novel plotted out first so that I would have a clear direction.

N. Gemini Sasson said...

I admire anyone who does it, too. Last year, however, I gave it a go and bailed after a week. Flinging down a lot of crap took me out of the moment and lessened the joy of writing for me. Being a big picture person, I rarely check how many words I've written in a single day, preferring instead to aim to finish a specific scene by a goal date.

In the end, I say do whatever motivates you and produces the best results.

Anita Davison said...

Thanks Mirella and Gemi, I wrote this post to point out these very differences in the way we write, and to emphasise this method isn't the only way to do things. I would still like some measure of its ultimate success, i.e.who has taken the manuscripts to the next stage....

Ketutar said...

I haven't won NaNoWriMo any time I have participated, and I think my dislike of what I am writing right now got the better part of me. I think writing a lot of crap is a good thing, because I have noticed that I need to get into the profession of writing - I need to teach myself to write every day, what ever happens. If I manage to teach myself to write - what ever it is I write - I will be writing, and that is the only way any writer can produce a manuscript. It is quite possible to write 4 hours and then edit it for 4 hours, and produce 8000 words, of which one edits out like 6000 words, and still produce a 60K manuscript to the end of November.
It is also possible to print out some 20 pages of the manuscript at a time and edit that "mess", so that the whole 50K will not drown you. I imagine it would be easier to edit a whole story. I imagine it is easier to cut off the unnecessary parts, because I know where the story is going, because I have already written it once. It is easier to see if the flow is there, if I have the whole book to read. I have never managed to write a novel, so I have never edited a novel either, so I don't know. I just imagine it to be so.
I have also noticed that my inner "editor" or saboteur, who she really is, is quiet, if my goal is to produce 2000 words a day, but not, if my goal is to produce a book someone might want to read. If I am writing a book, I will never succeed, because the writer's block hits me with all the "uh, this is no good, no-one will ever want to read this, this is pure crap, blah, bah and humbug!"

I am seeing the NaNoWriMo as practice in writing, not in writing well. :-)

kathryn said...

I loved the pix you posted along with the write up. So many interruptions when one has small children. It's a constant guilt trip. Mom, I'm starving. I know! But seriously...