NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, begins on November 1st. On that day thousands of people sign on to the website, nanowrimo.org, and commit to writing 50,000 words in 30 days. The stated goal is to complete the first draft of a novel. However, many folks work on memoir, essays, maybe even expansion of a work in progress. The primary goal is 50,000 words. That’s what you need to complete to be declared a “Winner!”
Yes, you have understood that correctly. The prize for doing this is a little badge that arrives via email that declares you a winner. That is the prize but the reward is much greater. In my four years of participation I wrote 206,575 words, completed three solid first drafts, and over 40 essay starts!
This will be my fifth NaNo. In the first year I worked on my memoir-in-progress. Yes, I began as a NaNo rebel. That is what they call participants who do not adhere closely to 50,000 new words, on a new novel, with no revision. By doing memoir I was outside those parameters. The second year I did write a novel but with a small twist. I had heard many stories about writers who got their 50,000 words but then never finished their book. So I promised myself that at 40,000 words I would stop and write an ending. My logic was that it would be easier to fill in the missing middle or near end if I knew the ending. My third year I wrote a draft of the follow up book to the first novel. I am thinking series. Last year I entitled my project “Life in Brief.” I wrote essay after essay. When I got stuck I simply started another one. This was golden. Writing while knowing I was not going to revise at that moment really freed me and new ideas kept popping up. I still have more than a dozen essay starts left to mine for future pieces.
This year I am back to fiction and have given myself permission to work on a project I have been wanting to do for a very long time. I am writing a Christmas book. It takes place in the same town as the first two novels and some of the characters from those have minor roles in this work.
The photo above shows my preparation work. I have read Christmas or holiday books by some of my favorite authors. I have been watching Hallmark Channel Christmas movies. And I have a very cool, mostly instrumental Christmas Collection CD for a playlist. It is easier to write to music if you are not tempted to sing along!
This year I am going to blog about my NaNo process, sharing what works, and what doesn’t. I hope to edit and assemble the blog posts into an e-book that I can share with NaNo writers next year. Click to go to the blog. Please join me and post any thoughts you think might be helpful for the e-book. And if you have never attempted a NaNo project, maybe this is your year!
Jude Walsh Whelley writes fiction, memoir, and poetry. She lives in Dayton, Ohio. This post was previously published on her blog, Writing Now.