All around the Internet, people are chomping at the bit to begin NaNoWriMo next month. Thirty days of mad slinging of words with a 50,000 word goal line. It’s fun, it’s insane, and yeah, it can be stressful.
I hate to lose. I hate to fail at a challenge. So I always get anxious this time of year as I contemplate NaNoWriMo.
I wouldn’t miss it for the world, but I always need to hide that faint tremble of trepidation. Can I do it this year? What if the kids get sick? What if I get sick? I won’t have as much vacation to take from the Evil Day Job this year. Will that make a difference? I’ve already started the story I want to work on. What if I run out of words and finish too early?
First off, before joining the insanity next month, think about why you’re writing this particular story. Most of us recognize that our best work doesn’t come in the fast slinging of words at top speed. If you want 50K words and you don’t care how crappy they are, more power to you. However, if you want 50K of solid story that you can actually revise and submit, I hope you’re preparing this week. Detailed plotting is NOT necessary by any means, but it sure can make your life easier if you at least have a few major plot points ironed out in your mind.
Really, the question you need to answer before midnight on Oct. 31st is how bad do you want to “win” versus how bad do you want to write a publishable story? If you only want to win, then by all means “cheat” by throwing in bizarre plot elements, having a blast with writing prompts, whatever floats your boat. If you’re serious about writing a publishable story, then you may have to balance “winning” with “writing.”
Don’t get me wrong — it’s very possible to write 50K in a month that is usable story. I’ve done it twice myself, although technically, neither NaNoWriMo manuscript in currently available for public consumption. My first NaNoWriMo project was the Maya thriller, which took me almost two years to revise and prepare for submission. The first batch of queries went out earlier this year and the waiting game sucks. Last year’s NaNoWriMo project is book 3 in the Shanhasson trilogy, and it’s in very publishable shape. There are a few scenes I want to axe and replace with something better, etc. but overall, it’s a clean story that will not need huge revisions. But I’ve had that story in my head for at least 10 years. Since the beginning of my writing journey, I’ve known how that story would end. It was a joy to get there, and 100K in 63 days was not effort — it was heaven.
This year, I plan to finish Victor’s story, which I fully intend to submit to Samhain as soon as it’s revised and polished within an inch of my life. If I finish his story and I’m short of the 50K total, then I’m going to have to scramble with something else. I have a few things set up.
Know your goals before you start writing in Nov. Make every word count. And have FUN, because there’s nothing as exhilarating as writing at your top speed while millions of other people are slinging words with you all over the world. Feed on that energy and use it to write the best story possible!