Some Thoughts on NaNoWriMo

crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbIt’s been just over a week as I write these words that the 2013 NaNoWriMo began. For those of you who may not know what that is, the term is an abbreviation of National Novel Writing Month. It’s that month where aspiring novelists attempt to write a 50k word novel in one month or less.

The program has grown to the point where it gets quite a bit of attention. A few days ago Kristine Kathryn Rusch addressed some issues surrounding unrealistic expectations many in the program have. Specifically, how since self publishing, or indie publishing as I usually call it, became a viable option, many people have written a novel, made it available, and waited for the money to flow in. Not all of the participants, and Rusch is quick to point this out.

One thing she does stress is that many of the participants still view books as an event. That when the month is over, many (not all, but some) won’t start their next book. She ends her post with a call for the participants to not just view November as a novel writing month, but December and January and February and…You get the idea.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Her point is that writers with drive will succeed because the writers with drive will keep writing.

Even with some people giving up, we’re seeing some of that drive pay off with indie publishing. In the past couple of years I’ve discovered a number of new authors, authors whose work I enjoy and look forward to reading. All of them are continuing to write, and all of them are improving their craft. Some of their work I’ve reviewed here, some I’ve reviewed at my personal blog, and some I’ve reviewed in both places.

I think NaNoWriMo is a good first step for many writers because it gives them the motivation and the confidence to keep writing. I’m participating. My goal is to refocus my motivation. But instead of writing a novel, I’m attempting to write 50k words of short fiction. I’ve got several ideas for novels, but they aren’t developed enough yet to start writing. To keep myself honest and not violate the spirit of the program, everything I work on has to be something I’ve started after the month began. No work already in progress will be included in the word count for NaNoWriMo.

I’m behind on where I need to be as far as the word count goes. I’m fine with that. For one thing, I knew I would be at this point. There are a couple of events happening this month that are going to make writing difficult. I’ll have time to get caught up during Thanksgiving. Even if I don’t hit 50k this time (I did when I participated two years ago), I’ll have some things I can submit to professional level markets.

I’ve been a little surprised at how easy the words have come once I sit down and start writing. I’ve already completed one short story, am almost done with a second, and am somewhere near the halfway point with a novelette. Plus I’ve started something that may very well turn into a novel. If it sounds like I’m jumping around, that’s not entirely the case. One advantage of writing short fiction is that if I have a few minutes, I can work on something even if I’m not at my regular writing computer, then email the document to myself to finish later. This approach may not work for everyone, but it’s working for me.

And when the month is over, those novel ideas and works in progress will still be there waiting for me.

One thing I’ve done differently this time is attend some of the write-in events. While at times there’s more socializing than writing, it’s been encouraging to see how many people have shown up. I wish these folks the best and hope they not only finish their books, but finish the next one, and the one after that, and that trilogy they’ve been thinking about writing.

Rusch is correct when she says many people who participate in NaNoWriMo won’t make it as professional writers, even if they finish their novels. Writing isn’t for whimps. So to those of you participating, don’t slack off on December 1. Keep going. I want to review your book. Not necessarily the one you’re working on now, but the one you’ll finish five years from now. You know, the one started in April that you’ll complete in June.

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