Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Happy November!

Those of you who are writers probably know what November is. Sure, there's that big American holiday near the end of the month, but writers who really know how to party know November as the month of insanity, aka NaNoWriMo.

According to the NaNo site I've been a member for seven years and that sounds about right. I've even donated money to them (they're a not for profit) and bought a few of their t-shirts (to wear to the gym). I like NaNo so much that I've signed up this year, even though I just finished a first draft and my goal is to complete a second draft in November. But I might use the progress meter anyway. It's not cheating. ;) I won't apply to "win".

The idea, is that everyone who participates starts writing a novel on November 1st, and finishes their first draft of said novel, at least 50,000 words, by November 30th. If you accomplish that, you are deemed a "winner". It started in 1999 with 21 writers in the San Francisco Bay area, and last year there were over 200,000 participants all over the world. (I would have guessed more... but that's what their site says.)

The rules state that you can't have started the book before November 1st and that you must finish a first draft by November 30th. That is, you can't just write 50K of an ongoing WIP, or a 50K start of a new book... So while I have written 50K most Novembers, I haven't applied to "win" very often because it's rare that my timing works out that I can start something new in November.

But I have a special place in my heart for NaNo. The first "longer" book I wrote; that is, the first novel that wasn't targeted for one of the shorter Harlequin lines, I wrote during NaNoWriMo 2004. That book still might not be published, but it did land me my first agent and won a lot of awards and more importantly, it was the book that made me think I could actually be an author.

I also wrote most of Cinderella: Ninja Warrior during NaNo 2009. Yes, I kind of cheated that year. I had a December 31st deadline for that book and so started it as soon as I knew I had the contract, on or about October 20th, and I finished the first draft before the end of November. But I definitely wrote more than 50,000 words of that book in November. I wrote the bulk of during NaNo and swear competing on word counts with a few of my extextremely prolific erotica writer friends mates really spurred me on. (If she wrote 4,000 words today, so can I!)

And so Nano is inidrectly responsible for my first agent and my first published book. On different books.

What about you? Do you NaNo? Do you like to write fast first drafts or take your time to get it right?

6 comments:

Eileen said...

I've never done NaNo. The timing never works for me project-wise and the idea of taking on something that absorbing as the holiday season revs up strikes me as a formula for landing me in the loony bin. Although that might get me out of going to Christmas Eve at Andy's mother's house . . . Perhaps I should rethink this . . .

Sinead M said...

I've never done NANO either. It seems intimidating, but it is something I'd like to try in the future.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I've never done it either... a full draft in a month?

That would be like writing... every day...

Although I guess that's what real writers should be doing.

Maureen McGowan said...

Eileen, it's always struck me as crazy that they picked November given the US holidays... But perhaps for people with day jobs who aren't also responsible for cooking turkey dinners... the big 4 day weekend near the end of the month was seen as a pro not a con.

But really... why not at least chose a month with 31 days? ;)

What I loved about the fast writing was how absorbed in my book I got. How it was everything for a while...

Rogenna Brewer said...

Very inspirational to hear your story, Maureen. I've attempted two previous nanowirmos, but dropped out early on.

Though I'm off to a slow start this year the timing is just right for a new project and so I'm determined to go for the win!

Debra Salonen said...

Ro has sucked me into the malstrom. I just signed up. I'm a hermit crab when I write--heavy on the crabbiness. My family is sooo going to love this.

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