Like a lot of would-be writers, I am participating in the NaWriNoMo event this month.
For those of you who don’t know what NoWriNoMo is, it stands for National Write a Novel Month. The idea is simple: you have thirty days to write 50,000 word novel. That’s it. Your novel may be longer, may be a pile of crap, or an editor’s worse nightmare. But the idea is to do the most important thing: write the story. The story can be refined, grammar-checked, plot holes filled in, characters chaged and edited to death at a later time. NaWriNoMo is all about getting the raw story down in a form other than having it stuck in your own mind. It’s starting with an empty sheet of blank paper (or an new file and filling it with words)
November is the designated month for this literary marathon. To stay on pace, you have to write an average of 1,667 words a day. That means sitting your butt in a chair and punching out that many words. a day. It’s a challenge, one designed to focus your efforts into pushing yourself as a writer instead of writing a few words here, a few words there.
Now this isn’t a real competition; no one’s going to judge your work or show up to watch you work. The main competition is with yourself, with the sloth in you, or the person who says, "I would like to, but I’m too busy!" It isn’t who can finish their novel first, nor is there a limit to what you can write about. The novel doesn’t even have to make sense or be complete. This is not sitting there and taking five minutes to decide with word to use; it’s playing by the seat of your pants, hitting the keys and stringing words together to form sentences, paragraphs and chapters. It’s rolling out the story as fast as your fingers can move. It’s mining for the story ore – the refinement comes later, after the story have been removed from the mine of your mind.
This is my second attempt at this: Last year, I started with Merlin’s Trial, the second novel in my Merlin Cronicles series. (The first novel is mostly written, and being worked on to refine it.) I saw the NaWriNoMo as a chance to get a large chunk of the story onto paper (or in today’s world, into a computer file). So I sat down November 1, 2011 and started writing.
For three weeks, I pushed myself to stay on track, and I was winning the battle. But late in the month, a chance to write a short story that would actually earn me some money cam up with a short turn-around time and I was force to chose between the two projects. In the end, I chose the paying gig, and ended up falling short on Merlin’s Trial by less than 8,000 words.
8,000 words. The length of the short story I chose to write. So, in a way, I did write 50,000 words that month, just not in the same project. But I did learn something about myself. I learned that given sufficient motivation, I can write a lot in a short time.
So, now I’m back for another with Merlin’s Courtship, third book in the some series. This time around, I decided instead of trying to stay on average, I would write as much as possible every day. Front-load the novel, so to speak. That way, if something comes up like last year, I would be in a position to stay on track without needing to devote as much time to the project. I started a spread sheet, tracking my total word count, my average daily written word count, my actual word count per day, and how many words I had left. As I write this blog entry on November 8th, I have the following stats:
Words written: 16,794 (33.6%)
Words left to reach 50,000: 33,206
Average words per day: 2,399 words (143% of average)
So, after one week, I’m a third of the way to my goal and I have yet to do any writing in this project today. A good start, but now is not the time to coast. Now is the time to double down and see if I can duplicate the totals above for this time next week. Which means I’m shooting for a minimum of 33,588 words. A loft goal, and one to shoot for.
To give you an idea if how much writing you have to do per day, this blog post, including title, is 846 words long, 50.7% of the NaWriNoMo average per day, about a page and a half on my word processor program and I threw this post together in less than an hour. So, if you can write about three pages a day, then you can write 1,667 words a day. As for me, I’m trying to stay in the NaWriNoMo fast lane, and will update eveyone next week on my progress.