Someone asked me, “What’s the big deal about NaNo?”
I shrugged. I don’t get it, either!
Oh, sure, I tried NaNo once, several years ago; I wanted to “win.” Then I found out I didn’t actually “win” anything, just bragging rights. Well, okay then, not my style.
Speaking of style, with NaNo, you have to be committed. That’s not my style either. I mean, commitment, sure, but not to a particular word count each day. That’s not how I write—when the muse speaks, I write. Constantly, if that’s what she says, or sporadically. It depends.
Oh, yeah, back to the “winning” thing. If you complete the challenge, i.e., write 50K words, you win! Theoretically, you’ve now written a book. Except you kind of haven’t, as the average novel is 80K words. That’s almost two NaNos.
But a lot of people really enjoy the challenge, and for some, they might never start those books they’ve been wanting to write, if it weren’t for NaNo.
Most people I know divide out the 50K word count by 30 days, which gives them a daily goal of just over 1600 words. What many fail to consider, though, is that some days are busier than others, some days you may not have any inspiration whatsoever, and there’s also Thanksgiving . . .
When I did NaNo, I actually subtracted two days for Thanksgiving, since I’m the cook, and a day for my youngest son’s birthday; then I took off four more days for a “day off.” Now, granted, I never actually stayed in the game as far as Thanksgiving, but my goal each day was nearly 2200 words.
But here’s the thing: you can do this however you want, whenever you want; you’ve all read about the “best” way to write a book, but I’m telling you—it doesn’t matter, as long as you get it done. And if NaNo helps, that’s great! Besides, NaNo has cool stuff like community forums and write-ins and actual, real people get-togethers. So, if that’s your thing, go for it!
Funny, two years ago I was working on REUSED and it happened to be November. Didn’t even occur to me to sign up for NaNo because I was so focused on this sequel to REDUCED. I had written a couple pages or so in October, then got sidetracked and put it away. Just so happened that I pulled it back out on November 1st. I finished the entire thing on November 30, in spite of those aforementioned days off.
That put my daily word count at around 3300. And that’s pretty rough, especially when you have other things to do like, you know, a life. Of course, my third book, RECYCLED, didn’t come out until the following July. I think it took me that long to recover.
RECYCLED came in at 4000 words a day. Three weeks. So I had my own NaNo. In June.
Then you “won” the Southern Cross Novel Challenge. It’s the same thing as NaNoWriMo, only in June, and it’s on kiwiwriters.org. I used that when I wrote the first draft of “Excelsior,” since November has Cheryl’s birthday, Thanksgiving, and our anniversary. Not the ideal time – especially in ’08 for our first anniversary – to say, “I’m gonna write a book on top of everything.”
Cool! I won! I won! lol Hadn’t heard of that, will have to go take a look…
It seems to me NaNo is designed for it’s own purposes, including emails and commercial hype to get donations. First time I signed up, I got emails back from some NanNOGuruManagerperson saying I wasn’t supposed to be posting on weekends or holidays, not allowed . huh….doh….. I am not fond of that model or control freaks; I write sporadically when the muse arrives. I am not a ‘joiner’ anyway so stopped reporting and coincidentally never joined again.
The fact is, either one is dedicated and will commit and write a novel, NaNo in tow in a little red wagon or not.
A couple of years ago I wrote what is now in revision and growing again –closer to 90,000+(?) word novel in a challenge with another writer as she wrote one – in fewer than thirty days. That challenge, ‘the tortoise and the hare’ we called it, was much more satisfying than NaNO will ever be.
We compared numbers as we went, she was blazing fast, wrote 4,000-6000, even 9,000 words easily, the first few days. I wrote nothing to 1500- 4,000 words some days, 8-9,000 words on a couple of days to try to catch up, ten words or zero on quite a few days….but got to 50k . then I had to blitz it in the last week of the challenge to finish ‘the story’ for a total of some 72k words. Technically I suppose I finished first, but we agreed, we both won by getting novels framed first draft. “:) Great competition. –AND we were done before NaNo.
I’m glad you’ve found an efficient way to work. But I want to clear up some misconceptions about NaNoWriMo. There is no NaNoWriMO rule about not “posting” on weekends or holidays. In fact, “posting” isn’t really a “thing” with NaNo. You can join forums and post comments on those (at any time) if you choose. It is recommended that you update your word count on the site each day (or 50 times a day or on weekends or holidays), but that’s your choice, too. At the end, you enter your novel (or an encrypted version) in the word counter, but isn’t saved or posted anywhere.
Yes, they do ask for donations, as does any not-for-profit enterprise, but there are no repercussions if you don’t contribute. You can set your email preferences if you don’t want to get emails. There are really no solid “rules” at NaNoWriMo.