Get Your Writing Groove on with #NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month, or #NaNoWriMo, began last Friday. NaNoWriMo is an annual exercise where writers perform a mental marathon and write at least 50,000 words in a 30 day period. I decided to participate to help get The War to Persevere: Book 2 of the Fundamentalists underway.

First of all, let me just say that I think writing a novel in a month is a crazy idea. A fun noteworthy achievement for sure, but still a bit intense. Yet thousands do it every year! Amazing!

For me, #NaNoWriMo would take an incredible amount of preparation in advance of the actual writing to succeed, specifically outlines, research, character development, etc,. In fact, I don’t have an expectation of finishing. That’s in spite of having much of the book already sketched out and portions drafted.

The issue is quality. While I think this may be great for drafting, I wouldn’t consider anything I write in 30 days to be publishable. For example, with consulting and fatherhood, I tend to only write 500-1000 words a day. By its very definition, that would leave me short of the 50,000 word minimum.

But, others are faster and work more diligently than me, and may have more time to write. That’s a cool thing. In fact, some decent novels have been written in six weeks or less.

Instead, I am using the exercise and group momentum to get me back into writing shape. Here are some of the things I expect #NaNaWriMo will help me accomplish:

1) Everyday Writing: This is an essential part of writing a book. I really believe you can’t get it done unless you discipline yourself for a long writing marathon. For, given my business duties, I have to accept 500 words a day… So long as I actually write every day.

2) Expose Weaknesses: Until the draft is written, you can’t see where the holes are.So, in particular, I will be looking to expose missing gaps in the narrative, as well as where I need to strenghten the characters. It’s also an opportunity to take feedback from Exodus, and better myself with my sophomore novel.

3) Research Needed: Another core component of this phase will be identifiying areas that need research to make sure the manuscript is technically sound. War will feature quite a bit of steam technology so that means I have to beef up my knowledge of arms and engines. My intent is to draft, then go back and correct or rewrite chapters for accuracy’s sake.

Perhaps the best part of #NaNoWriMo is all of the dialogue from authors. There has been quite a bit of chatter in the Google+ Writer’s Discussion Group. Of course, the #NaNoWriMo site has tons of support forums. And finally, several friends have dialogued about it. This is a cool thing to work through with them.

What do you think of #NaNoWriMo?

  • So glad to find someone else who has a more realistic view of the contest. I’m put off by the fans of the event who act more as fans of word counts and dramatic struggle to hit them, than people concerned with making a readable and sound story by the end of it. Good luck this year! Also glad to hear i’m not the only one who outlines, and character develops before starting the month

    • geofflivingston

      There is nothing admirable about doing something poorly for the sake of doing it fast. Sometimes we have to, and that’s work or life, but why produce bad art?

      Funny, I was thinking today, I might need to create social graph for my characters to keep them straight. I might do that tomorrow or Wednesday instead of writing.

      And good luck to you, too! What are you writing about (or can you not tell yet)?

      • I am going to have to set aside a day just to draw maps i think.

        My story is a fantasy novel about a quest from an orc’s point of view. But not a parallel novel like Grendel, but a curious orc who happens to take an interest in how his people are perceived. like an Orc Ethnography by the first Orc Anthropologist. Seems ridiculous even putting it down. But its a concept I fell in love with a while ago.

  • susancellura

    I think it is a great idea in that it might motivate a writer to get started. I’m not going to tackle it this year, but maybe next year. And, I’m looking forward to Book 2!

    • geofflivingston

      It’s coming along! I am completely rewriting my old stuff based on the feedback from book one. We’re at 3533 words after six days, slowly but surely.

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