National Novel Writing Month a.k.a. NaNoWriMo begins November 1. I usually do it. I’ve got one idea that I really like that started as a short story for my sister in the mid-2000’s. It’s been a NaNoWriMo for a couple of years since then, but it never gets finished. It gets to 18,000 or maybe 33,000 words, and then the story, tentatively titled Dragons of the Sun, fizzles.
I was just reflecting on if I want to participate in NaNoWriMo 2014, and if so, how fully I want to participate. I realized that I do actually have a beginning, a middle, and an end in mind for Dragons of the Sun. That’s exceptionally rare for me. I even have a couple sub-plots in mind, which might be a first for me. And before anyone gets up in arms over breaking the rules, NaNoWriMo is totally okay with old projects as long as you only count the words you write for the current period.
I got my handy-dandy notebook out, and I penned my beginning, middle, and end (BME). Then, I penned the BME for my sub-plots (one of which is pictured below).
And, so I have decided that I will participate in NaNoWriMo this year, but I’m concerned about the level of committment. 50,000 words has eluded me every year, so I am inclined to abandon the literal goal of the project to embrace the spirit of the movement (and I think I can call it a movement when over 700,000 people participated last year). I have a few options in mind for this year’s NaNoWriMo– all of which can be modified so that I actually create something, even if said creation does not comprise 50,000 written words.
Option 1: Write Dragons of the Sun to 50,000 words, but have the stories, chapters, and characters outlined in advance. I say to write this story to 50,000 words because I’m quite certain it will require at least 100,000 to be told.
Option 2: Write a children’s book for my nieces with homemade stuffed animals to accompany the story.
Option 3: Write additional tall tales for my compilation of tall tales tenatively titled My Dad is Paul Bunyan.
People wonder why anyone is inclined to participate– why is it that NaNoWriMo is a blip on our radar in September? Why is it that NaNoWriMo is a decision that must be made before Halloween each year? Why on earth would we devote every moment of our spare time to writing what will probably just turn out to be not only a failed endeavor, but a poorly-written failed endeavor? Well, simply put, there’s nothing that special about NaNoWriMo, on its own, and it is not enough to convince me that I should write or participate. It’s actually all of the community-type stuff that goes along with it. Neil Gaiman convinces me I should write. My friends and family who ask me why I’m an auditor and not a writer convince me to write. That girl with the 365 Poetry Project inspires me to write.
NaNoWriMo is about community. Sure, it churned out Water for Elephants, but that was a statisical anomoly. It’s not about writing the next great novel or making it big. It’s about creating something. We’ve got a set amount of time, and unlike life, we know that the time alloted to us is exactly 30 days. We give it everything we’ve got to spare, and at the end, we don’t get a million dollars or a publishing contract. We get satisfication that we did it. We created something– even if it is is poorly-written. Maybe we’ll make a friend or find that crazy, rabid fan we all dream of. Maybe we’ll walk away with one more item checked off our bucket list, and maybe we’ll finish still a mile shy of the finish line. Maybe we’ll try again next year.
My mind is already spinning to figure out how I can get this into my schedule. I could ask my boss if he minds if I come in two hours late every day in November. I could spend my entire lunch break writing. I could do it on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays only– spending at least 8 hours per day on writing. I could take a week at Thanksgiving. I could start drinking energy drinks again and trade three hours of nightly sleep for writing and Red Bull.
So, if you’re inclined, join me for NaNoWriMo in 24 days! Get your plot lines simmering and start your character sheets! Let’s create something– even if it’s poorly-written and has a wandering plot that never really seems to end.