Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Did you know that November is novel writing month? Seems like they have a month for everything anymore - but anyways, I've been part of the writing community in Boise for six years now and this is the first year I remembered - well, was reminded - and the first year I participated.

I found somewhere on the internet, so take it for what it's worth, that only 3% of writers finish their book. I can relate, because up to this point, my longest book got stuck at 17,000+ words.

I'm what some call a "plotter". I can plot my book to death, and as seen above, have. I'm so anal about things that every time I ran into a little trouble, I started back at the beginning and rewrote it all to fix that problem. You can see where this might get a little tedious and where, after 8-10 times of rewriting, someone might just get bored with it.

So when a good friend of mine reminded me that NanoWriMo - that's National Novel Writing Month - was in November and encouraged me to join the challenge, I thought about it for a little while but didn't really make up my mind until the day of. The challenge itself is 50,000 words in 30 days. That's about 1,667 words a day, or 5-7 pages in the standard format.

That's a lot of writing for me, as I'm a stay at home mom and have my own chores and projects to accomplish. But I decided to give it a try. I also decided to try in a totally different fashion.

I was going "pantser". I know, if you've never heard the term you're probably thinking that I shouldn't be telling people that. In the writing world "pantsers" are people that don't plot, they just sit their butts down and write and whatever comes out, comes out. Their writing starts with anything from a general idea to absolutely no idea what they're doing, and they trudge on letting their characters and any new ideas that pop into their brains, lead the way.

You can see where someone as anal as I would just about pass out from the idea of just writing from the seat of my pants. It goes against everything I believe in, including my to-do lists that I do every day!

Since I hadn't made the decision to write until November 1st, I dug out my list of vague ideas - it's always growing - and grabbed one. I sat down and just went with it.

I'll have to admit that writing freely is very liberating. I didn't have a path so my current one couldn't be wrong. If I didn't have the answers, then I just wrote around it and put it off for another day! It was great! Don't get me wrong, I still did a little bit of plotting. During the time when I wasn't writing, I'd dwell on what I had written and what could happen from there, but that's as far as I went.

The hardest part - the part that just tormented me the entire month - was not editing! It was nerve wracking not to go and change something once I realized my current idea wasn't working. Yah, I cheated a little, I changed spelling errors that popped up, but that's it! When I had a problem or needed to change part of a story line, I just wrote a short note to myself right were I was, highlighted it, and then kept on writing like I'd already made those changes. Sometimes I even just left it, thinking a little confusion can be good. Don't worry, I'll fix it when I start editing after I've finished.

So, the month of November is over and I met the challenge. I had 50,000 words written on the 28th. However, I haven't finished my novel yet! I think I have about 20,000 words more before the first draft is finished, then I have to edit. In the Nano tradition, I've decided to try for 1,000 words a day until done. It's a good goal, not as long as Nano but enough to allow me to get an idea or two out.

I would definitely participate again, if I remember in time, and I'd recommend it for anyone who has ever wanted to write. It's been a great experience - even if my house work and meal planning has suffered - and I've learned that even a dedicated obsessive compulsive plotter like me can learn new tricks and accept a little chaos!

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