One week left until November, and the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short). For those of you going, “NaNowhat?”, this November thousands of frenzied novelists (would-be and otherwise) will pound away at their keyboards, aiming to amass 50,000 words of a novel. The massive amount of wordage in so short a time is devised to bring down your Internal Editor (and run it over with a steamroller and leave it a smear on the pavement) and let your creative side run free and unfettered.
I have a great fondness for NaNoWriMo. My first attempt at it, back in 2003, netted me about half of The Changeling, my first (and well-beloved) novel. I’ve never seriously attempted it since then, as I’ve been busy raising babies. Now my youngest is over one and sleeping through the night, and my husband–freed from the demands of academia–is going to try it for the first time. He wanted me to do NaNo alongside him, and without thinking it through, I said, “Sure!”
Except I’m not. Sure, that is. I think NaNo is a fantastic idea for the first-time novelist who needs a shove, or one whose Internal Editor needs to be gagged and bound and thrown into a deep well. I think it’ll be a great experience for my very left-brained husband (he’s had this story idea for years and I’m glad he’s actually going to be getting it down!).
I’m just not sure that it’s the right thing for me to do.
Since I won NaNo in 2003, I went on to finish and revise my novel. I also wrote a second and revised that a few times. I wrote a third (unrevised). Now I’m working on my fourth. NaNo made it possible for me to break that mental block that so many people have towards writing a novel–it seems like an unclimbable mountain. But now that I’ve done it a few times, I have confidence in myself and my own processes. I’m working on creating a writing habit (500 words/5 times a week). I’m in it for a long haul and not convinced that binge-writing (and subsequent burnout or backsliding) is right for me. I also think a slower pace has more thoughtfulness built into the process of novel writing. If something isn’t working quite right, I can take the time to reevaluate, instead of pushing on to the bitter end and having a reeking mess to edit.
But all that said, I’m not sure. I love NaNo. I love its energy, its camaraderie, the chance to do this alongside my husband. I love winning, even if all I get is an icon.
What about you? Are you doing NaNo this year? Care to share your opinions and experiences with it?