NaNoWriMo: What the Hell Was I Thinking?

by thiszine

BY LACEY N. DUNHAM

In the past, I’ve toyed with participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) but have always found an excuse: November’s too busy, I’m in the middle of a project, I’m spending every waking hour of the entire month washing my hair.

Then Lars happened.

I’d completely forgotten that NaNoWriMo was approaching when Lars asked me, in September, if I planned on participating this year. Caught unawares by his Canadian charm, I couldn’t think of a good excuse. Even my previous year’s handy, ready-made put-offs evaporated.

Why is my resistance so weak to you, Lars?

So now I’m participating in NaNoWriMo. This means that during the month of November, my goal is to produce a 50,000 word novel alongside thousands of other writers (called “wrimos” in the NaNoWriMo parlance). I calculated this out: if I’m going to meet my goal of 50,000 words, I must write approximately 1,666 words each day for thirty days. That’s about three, single-spaced pages of a novel on a daily basis.

Scratch that. My goal for the month of November is not to go crazy trying to write a 50,000 word novel.

The main problem is that I’m a slow writer because my self-editor kicks in far too frequently. Even if I write three pages (or more) a day, I’m just as likely to delete 80% of my work the next day. I get stuck in the synonym mud of finding the perfect alternative to the word “bitter.” I work and re-work dialogue between characters and, sometimes, entire characters themselves. I tend to write fiction that is less action-orientated and more literary, where characters have an argument on one page and spend the next forty pages reflecting on it.

Also, I’ve never written a novel before. Not a real, grown-up novel. I wrote “novels” all the time when I was a child, but these were mostly fifty page rip-offs of whatever Nancy Drew or Boxcar Children book I’d recently read. Once in a while I’d get smart and rip-off Katherine Patterson or Mary Downing Hahn but, generally, I’d go the commercial route with easily marketable mysteries. My writing focus is on short stories, many of which undergo three or four complete revisions before my first reader ever sees a draft. I guess the question is, can a short story writer produce a fifty thousand word novel in just thirty days?

I don’t fool myself that this novel will be anywhere near good. No one will ever read it because after November, I’ll paw through its carcass for salvageable phrases and then delete the remainder without mercy. In all likelihood, this “novel” will reflect the various curse words I pitch at my computer screen as I sit down to advance my literary, people-in-a-room-thinking plot one word at a time.

So what’s the point of participating in NaNoWriMo?

For one month, I can try something I’ve never done before and can do it in the company of the very active NaNoWriMo group in my region. While I’m suffering, so will thousands of others and, in an odd way, that provides great comfort. I have permission to shut-off the self-editor that lives in my head. And Lars has promised me cupcakes. Isn’t that reason enough?

 

To join Lacey in her NaNoWriMo adventures, sign up to participate and then search for her under the username “laceywritesanovel.”

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3 Responses to “NaNoWriMo: What the Hell Was I Thinking?”

  1. Fantastic Lacey! For Cupcakes! For Posterity!

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