National Novel Writing Month

1 Nov

November 1, aside from being the day after Halloween, marks the beginning of National Novel Writing Month, “is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.”

Those of you math whizzes have already figured out that 50,000 words in a months shakes out to about 1,667 words per day.  I’ve tried to keep up with NaNoWriMo (as the cool kids abbreviate it) in the past and failed epically.  In fact, “tried” is a strong word for what I did the past two Novembers.  A more apt description: I half-heartedly wrote a few words for two or three days and then promptly gave up on the hope of ever reaching 50,000 words.

Well friends, it’s day one and I’ve written 1,722 words, a whopping 55 words over my daily quota.  I may actually finish this year.  This novel is never going to be published.  It’s not going to brilliant.  I have my doubts about whether or not it will even be coherent, but the point of NaNoWriMo is to jut get you writing.  From the NaNoWriMo website:

“Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.”

I think this is just what I need right now.  My favorite books about writing, from Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird to Natalie Goldman’s Writing Down the Bone, all insist that it’s important to give yourself the space to just write and create before you step in and wade through the pile of crap you’ve just written with a fine-toothed comb, looking for the golden kernels (ok, so they didn’t put it quite like that but the sentiment is the same).  I love editing and tweaking, but I sometimes have a hard time with the wild abandon the NaNoWriMo folks love so much.

And so, in the spirit of creating and sharing, I’ll try to post about the process as I soldier on and maybe even post a sentence or two.  My favorite bit from today’s writing:

Back in her room, she takes stock of her order, a soggy tortilla that looks like it’s cannibalized a fellow taco.  The whole thing is dripping onto the waxy paper as she unwraps it like a present and forces herself to take a bite. “Happy Anniversary, Paul,” she says with her mouth full of salty refried beans.

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One Response to “National Novel Writing Month”

  1. Lorin November 3, 2010 at 12:51 am #

    Yay Dale! You’re so right. I too have “failed” miserably the last two years, but really it’s the trying part that matters. Perhaps I’ll at least be inspired to crank out a few dozen pages again this November.

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