I Caught the Fever of NaNoWriMo

Today is November 1, which for writers everywhere is the official first day of writing 50,000 words. In the words of those who put National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) together: “On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 PM on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought about writing a novel.”

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Sure, I value enthusiasm, determination, and deadlines, making me susceptible (once again) to the craze that I’ve been reading about on writing sites and blogs everywhere.

I participated in NaNoWriMo thrice before, in ’10, ’11 and ’12, and all times I’d created novels that wouldn’t otherwise exist if not for this organization. Yes, I have found value and success and hope in the NaNoWriMo experience.

Last week I mentioned that I was in the middle of three various novels, all at different stages, so it’s probably folly for me to embark on number 4 right now.

However, I am swept up in this writing frenzy, and I tend to write with more joy and fervor when I’m surrounded by other insane writers positivity and encouragement.

Rather than start yet another novel, I’m going to use NaNoWriMo as a way of pushing me forward on book number 3.

Currently, it’s in the second draft, which is my least favorite draft to write, and a deadline would help me navigate around the hazards of the construction site which is my third novel.

I’ve done this before–breaking NaNo rules. Back then, if you used NaNo for anything other than pantsing 50,000 words, you had better well do it undercover. But, this year, I’m thinking maybe a lot of writers started using NaNo for all kinds of writing challenges, because I found this really cool NaNo-rebel badge on the site:

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I’d like to think that I can be a writing rebel when I’m in the mood. So, let’s just go with that.

I’ve already written 30,000 words for it, so I don’t want to annoy those who haven’t even written their first word by talking about word count. Instead I’ll be focused on structure.

How does one go about meeting a word count challenge through structure?

STORY GOALS.

I talk about this in book 2 of my Writer . . . Uninterrupted series, A Handbook for the Productive Writer. When we need to focus on story (while writing lean and mean), a great way to help us move forward is to set story goals.

For example:

-Show the reader your protagonist is terrified of heights in 500 words or less.

-Unveil major secret as part of set up—approximately at a WC total of 10,000.

-Fight scene where protagonist’s trusted ally dies—spans no more than 2,000 total words and cannot occur past WC total of 60,000.

 

As a reformed pantser, I have begun to appreciate structure and outlines. By outlines, I do not mean the kind I did in middle school with the Roman numerals and one-word phrases that were supposed to mean something. Outlining is brainstorming, which I write about more in-depth here.

My plan is to take my book, page by page, and set story goals along the way, with the ultimate objective of completing my second draft by November 30. This will require more effort and brain power than just raw writing–which is why I will have plenty of caffeine and pizza to carry me through.

 

If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo, I’d love to buddy up with you. Hope to see you there!

Have a writerly day!

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43 thoughts on “I Caught the Fever of NaNoWriMo

  1. Hi Kate, yep, I’m doing it too, also in a rebellious way! Last year I started on one, a memoir (which is rebellious in itself for NaNo), and didn’t reach the 50K, and then didn’t touch it again after November. So this year I’m picking that one up again, and thus being doubly rebellious! Thanks for the tipoff on the rebel badge, I’ve now added that. I’m NessaJane on there. Good luck with yours!

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  2. Well, I’ve been an unofficial rebel for several years, so why stop now? 🙂 November’s goal, using NaNo’s energy (but not “officially” participating), is to draft out Kathryn’s part of the manuscript. Rebels and traditionalists alike, let’s all encourage each other along the way because it’s the act of writing that’s important!

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    • Once a rebel, always a rebel! 🙂 NaNo’s energy is unfailing–I could feel the ripples of excitement even at the beginning of October. At the time I couldn’t imagine embarking on yet another challenge (writing or otherwise), but now that it’s upon me I guess I couldn’t resist! Good luck with Kathryn!!

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  3. Oh this is my dilemma – to do or not to do! Like you I’m in the middle of other things – but in the pat it has been so useful… My head is empty…

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  4. Good luck! I’m being rebellious about it too… to some extent. I’m continuing a novel rather than starting a new one, and I really REALLY hope I can make it to the finish line this year because the last few years have been very disappointing. 😦 I’m starrynightblue there by the way!

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    • Hello Zen/starrynightblue! 🙂 Another rebel–yes! Unsurprising, actually. I think there are more rebels who use NaNo than anyone realizes. I hope that you can make it to the finish line too. I’ll be cheering you on!

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  5. all the best Kate! I did it one year – for me it was not a good thing. I’ve never had the energy or time to unravel the complicated plot of the first draft! I prefer writing under less pressure, enjoying it and not having to unpick my work on the drafting! xxx

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    • Oh, I know, trying to unravel the tangled mess of the first draft can be a killer. But I soooo love pantsing a first draft. 🙂 I can’t help it. So, I indulge and then get to work. I’ve made my peace with it. Pizza helps. 🙂

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  6. My fave part of NaNo, other than getting a draft done, is that feeling of being connected (even though I’m tucked away somewhere with my laptop!). This year I’ve been focusing on picture book manuscripts and a middle grade, so I’m not officially participating. But I plan to harness the Nano attitude to keep my writing moving along. 🙂 Great tips here, Kate, as always. Happy writing!

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    • Yes, me too Coleen! I love the camaraderie of NaNo. We all want each other to succeed, and that’s such a great feeling. The NaNo energy is pretty hard to avoid if you’re reading anything about writing this month, so I think you’ll be able to harness all you need! Good luck!

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  7. I’m writing as a rebel as well! I did a huge outline through October and started Nov 1 with about 9,000 words. No regrets 🙂 My outline helps SO much; I have a good idea of where I’m going and my 50,000 words will hopefully be on track. I, too, give NaNo much credit for two previously completed novels – wahoo!

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    • Isn’t it funny how we’ve converted from our pantsing days? I can’t say I’ve completely ditched pantsing, because I do believe I get a lot out of that organic, raw writing that I can’t seem to craft through an outline. But, weed-whacking a path for my protag to reach his/her story goal ahead of time is tremendously helpful!

      Good luck to you, Amy!

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  8. Dang. I was not going to participate in NaNo this year – like you, I’ve done it the traditional way multiple times – but, now, seeing I can be a rebel, I may need to leap in…! 2014’s NaNo is currently in a rewrite stage, and I’ve even got my cover artist’s semi-final draft pressuring me to finish something I should have completed months ago. So, maybe I’ll hop on board, Kate.

    You’re right that the rush of seeing so many people writing frantically can be great motivation. Most of my friends are already so much farther along (and doing better stories), but I do feel like my band of adventurers deserve to have their story finished, so who knows?

    Happy writing to you!

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  9. Arg, I promised myself I’d jump in this year, but I can’t commit this year. So I’ll just have to live vicariously through Nano posts like yours. Love the rebellion writing, I’m sure that would definitely be more me oriented. 🙂 Good luck Kate!

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