Thursday, November 01, 2012

NaNoWriRant

  Greetings from your resident naysayer and spoilsport. Today is November 1st. Day of the Dead AND day one of the 2012 NaNoWriMo blitz. Coincidence? I think not.

Don't get me wrong, I have been a fan of the writing bootcamp, and think it can be instrumental in getting a project off the ground. I've done it. It was an interesting experience, and I got a lot of pages written. Where are those pages now, you ask? On a long crashed hard drive--but the kernel of my project morphed into something that ultimately survived.

The best part of the experience for me was the connection element. I had a few buddies, and at the end of each session we'd trade our final paragraphs of the day. I looked forward to them sparkling down in my inbox, and was eager to share my own, so that kept me motivated and accountable.

That said, I do have reservations about NaNoWriMo. Or, I should say, one GINORMOUS reservation, and that is, the experience can lead to the absolute opposite outcome for writers. Instead of fueling production, it can be one more distraction. E.g. checking in on all your fellow WriMos to see how many words they've written, or spending additional time blogging, responding to blog posts and tweeting about word count, or lack thereof. Even locating the widget you want and backending it onto your blog sidebar can take as much time as writing four pages.

Can you say sink hole?

In the last four years, since my foray, writing communities have bubbled up all over the place. Social media and its ubiquitous, meteoric presence can be another full time job on its own, so with the addition of WriMoVille, you're taking minutes away from writing time. And who has minutes, right?

A few months ago, I wrote a novel in 70 days. A novel that, according to my agent, was in pretty good shape. The final draft took another three weeks, and now it's out to editors, so it's not that I'm a killjoy regarding butt-in-the-seat. For me, it's all about focus. I had to do less things instead of more things to get those 60K words down (and those were the keeper words--double that for rough draft). I had to be strict about my time on social media and extra curriculars and the sorts of communication enticements dangled before me.

I do like the idea of setting goals though, and I think what's most important about the idea of National Novel Writers' Month is figuring out what's the right goal for you. Maybe it's three chapters you work hard to polish. Maybe it's shitting out that initial lump of coal. Maybe it is, indeed, simply connecting with a writing community. My bit of caution, as a dyed-in-the-wool non rule-follower, is to make your WriMo experience particular to your goals as a writer. Don't get sucked in by the numbers unless that's what's important to you as a writer. In other words, make your own rules!

So tell me, writers, what do you wish for writing selves this month?

6 comments:

  1. "Make your own rules." Hallelujah that!

    I confess, I am not a fan of NaNo. I applaud those who can do it. Hell, I WISH I could do it. But this is exactly the kind of thing that would make me dread writing and dread the month of November. And as someone who already has issues every year with the coming holidays, I am sure I would sink into a giant hole. How's that for optimism!

    That said, my rule is the steady ship. I love routine. I could eat the same lunch every single day, take the same walk, wake and sleep at the same time, etc.... You get the picture. I am DULL. Lucky for me, being dull helps me get this writing thing done, so I'm sticking with it. ;-)

    That said, Good Luck to all of you NaNo people out in the world. I wish I could be you.

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    1. Oh Teri, Bless your dull little heart. Kidding! You are anything but dull, woman. You're a bright and focused DoBe with a killer sense of humor.I'd climb aboard your steady ship any time. Wait, that sounded weird.

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    2. What the hell, climb on. This is one sound ship.

      See you in a week! A long weekend where zero writing will be done but many writing and life issues will be solved. I'm sure of this.

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    3. I'm counting the minutes!

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  2. I agree with Teri. I'd love to be able to slam down a draft in 30 days, and in theory there's no reason why I shouldn't. But this time around it's just not happening that way. I'm adding 500-750 words a day to my draft, working on a proposal, and soon I'll be back to revisions for my last book---and really, that's enough for now.

    Tortoise and the hare, baby, and this shell is fucking heavy.

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    1. Plus, who the fuck needs hemorrhoids going into the Christmas season???

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