Yes, I’m doing NaNoWriMo. For those of you who are not Writer-y types, “NaNoWriMo” stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s a fun little thing that began in 1999 when Chris Baty and 20 other participants in the San Francisco area decided to challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in a month. That has spread so that in 2010 there were over 200,000 Writers taking part.
I think this is the 4th time I’ve participated or attempted to participate in NaNoWriMo. I “won” it twice, in, like, 2006 and 2007 I think, and I failed in 2009 because I was directing a play. Or something like that. I’m probably not remembering correctly there, to be honest. I can’t remember what the first story I won with was, but the second one I wrote was a sort of speculative future history story that takes place 50 years from now in what is currently the tribal lands of Pakistan. Except that the US had taken control of the area, built it up, then gone bankrupt and abandoned it after an attack by insurgents. My heroine was caught in the city when the insurgents took over and the Americans abandoned it. Yes, it was a romance. I wrote more than 50,000 words, but I never finished the story. Maybe I will someday.
Which brings me to my point.
One of my lovely Twitter friends and I were commiserating about the difficulties of attempting NaNo while working on more “serious” works in progress that have editorial and publishing deadlines. It’s kind of like juggling lit torches. She made the comment to me that “NaNoWriMo is actually for Non-Writers” because for Writers every month is National Novel Writing Month.
Huh. Interesting. I have to say I kind of vaguely agree with her. When you’re a Writer with a capital “W” you’ve got a Work in Progress nearly all the time. Something needs writing and there’s always a deadline to write it. At least that’s how things have been for me lately. I feel comfortable if I finish a first draft of a novel within a month. I did it in August and October this year. And now here I am trying to write another novel in November while revising the second book in my Noble Hearts trilogy.
A lot of the people who do NaNo, I think, love it because it’s a great way for them to get the lead out and write the damn book, so to speak. I may be wrong, but I get the impression that many of the NaNo participants don’t spend the other eleven months of the year plotting, writing, and revising. (Although I suspect that a lot of the people who end up reading this blog will be Writers to begin with)
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking the Non-Writers attempting to write during November. In fact, I’m saying welcome to our world! I love seeing people reach for that brass ring of finishing the novel they’ve always wanted to write. It’s great! The more Writers the better as far as I’m concerned. And Chris Baty and the creators of NaNoWriMo have done a great service to the world. Thanks guys!
But as a year-round Writer, can I just say ugh? I’m doing NaNo this year because my awesome friends in my writing group really wanted us all to do it as a group. And they’re fan-freakin-tastic people, so how could I say no? But given a choice? No, I don’t think I would have done it this year. I have too many other things that need my attention on the Writing front.
So who else is with me on this one? Are you a Writer attempting NaNo out of a sense of obligation to the Writing Gods? Are you a Non-Writer trying to do what you’ve always wanted to do? Or are you somewhere in between? And out of curiosity, are there any Writers out there who deliberately plan their year-round writing schedule so that you can do NaNo?