Sunday, October 23, 2016

The Urge to NaNo

NaNoing in the writing world has nothing to do with the study of very small things. NaNoing has an entirely different meaning and, ironically, entails the production of a large set of words within a short time period. If you participate in National Novel Writing Month, you are NaNoing.

Last year, I NaNoed (is the slang annoying you yet?) and attempted to write my last Musketeer novel in the month of November by hammering out 1600+ words a day until I reached the 50K-word mark. I fell 15K words short. (This very day, I'm about 13K short. I know, I know...) Thanksgiving arrived, and that put a meat fork in my productivity.

The exercise challenged me to not belabour any details and keep moving. My crit group read sections as I moved along, and the story almost moved along too quickly. It seemed to keep the same pace as the month, fast and sloppy. It's an attractive exercise in no regrets, no layers. You just go for it. I've heard lots of names for this type of writing: stream of consciousness, downloading, free writing (which can be more personal), or the ever popular, puking on the page.

Now that fall has come back around and the days are closing in on Nov. 1, I'm thinking again about whether to give it another try. My story could use an ending and NaNo focuses the mind on the task: writing the draft. This is such an important, crucial step in a book. You have no book if you don't have a draft. That idea gurgling around in your head? All you have is an idea, mildy formed, amusingly mythical, until you put words on the paper. Then you have something. It might be trash, but it's trash in actual black and white that can be edited, revised, manipulated. In my case, layered. I need to add layers and details and give the story a little heft.

Maybe the turn of the season or the way light is starting to diminish more each day causes NaNo to pull at me a little. C'mon, Do It. The challenge and the companionship (because there are thousands participating and a networking website) change the lone-writer reality into a competition and a virtual party. That said, I don't think I'll ever write a book in a month. My habits (bad, maybe) and thought processes don't support a high daily word count. I like thinking about my sentences/plots, and finding the best way to tell the story and its nuances. I'll sit for 10 minutes on one sentence. It's not painful. It's particular. I want to tell the story the way I feel the story.

But, boy, NaNoWriMo makes you write. And right now, I could sure use a little virtual party and an ending to my book.