Confessions of a first-time WriMo
November 17, 2012 | 5:48 pm
As an intern here at NAPCO (the parent company of Book Business and Publishing Executive), I am constantly exposed to new, exciting things happening in the publishing industry. Two weeks ago, I wrote an article celebrating this year’s kickoff of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). In that article, I challenged all you publishers to one month of literary abandon in which you (yes, you!) could become authors yourselves. I wanted to take a minute to check in on your progress, and to share my own NaNoWriMo experience with you. That’s right, you are currently reading the words of another first-time WriMo.
NaNoWriMo—in which participants pledge to write a 50,000-word novel during the month of November—is probably one of the crazier things I’ve signed up to do. First of all, before this month, I had not done anything to indicate that I had any latent talent that would enable me to be a novelist. As an English major at a liberal arts college, I’m used to writing papers, sure, but those papers usually cap off at around 10 or 15 pages; 50,000 words come out to around 200 pages. Additionally, the only creative writing class I’ve ever taken is creative non-fiction—not exactly something to qualify me to write a novel.
But I decided to take a stab at it, and guess what? I’m doing alright.
I am currently 25,000 words into a novel that somehow manages to excite me and annoy me in equal measure. I’m pretty sure that means things are going well. I write (approximately) 1,667 words each day and I am on track to finish by November 30. Slow and steady.
Now, for some bright and shiny stars, NaNoWriMo is the start of a career as a professional author; more than 90 NaNo novels have been published, and several have made the New York Times Bestsellers list. Of course, I’m not saying I’ll be one of them. Currently, my characters are disjointed, my storyline seems hopelessly confusing, and I have a couple plot holes a mile wide. But lots of first drafts are awful. And history has shown that some of those awful first NaNo drafts go on to be revised into complete, coherent manuscripts, on their way to publication.
By the end of November, I don’t expect to have a masterpiece. I don’t even expect to have something I’m willing to let another human read (except maybe my mom). But I will—fingers crossed—have 50,000 words that didn’t exist before; 50,000 words that I wrote. And that’s pretty cool.
NaNoWriMo is a time to lock up your inner editor, drink lots of coffee, occasionally fight the urge to rip out all your hair, and to let the words flow without concern for what happens when December hits. So, if you missed out on NaNoWriMo this year, think about giving it a shot when November 2013 rolls around (unless, of course, the apocalypse has happened by then, in which case, never mind). You can even try writing a novel during the month of December instead, or even starting tomorrow. There’s nothing magical about the month of November; the point of NaNoWriMo is putting a story to paper, and that’s something that anyone can do, at any time.
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