Monday, October 31, 2011

The Muse Reviews: National Novel Writing Month

Another quick and dirty review for your Monday morning...

In case you haven't heard, November is National Novel Writing Month. Starting tomorrow, some of your friends will be racing to write at least 1,667 words a day for the next 30 days, to reach a total of 50,000 words by midnight on November 30.

This is the equivalent of running a marathon in about two hours. If you hit 50,000 words or more in a month, you deserve to win a prize. It's not easy.

But it can be fun. And that's part of the goal of Nanowrimo (as the insiders call it, because we don't have time to write or spell it out and write our 50,000 words too; some of us even call it Nano). If you're participating in Nanowrimo or thinking about it, go in with a plan to have fun. You can do that by writing something outrageous, like a woman I spoke to yesterday. She wrote a 50,000 story about a lost sock. The story ends on a cliffhanger: Her main character literally is hanging off a cliff at the 50,000 word mark. She hasn't finished the story, but she clearly had fun!

You can also have fun by participating in your local Nanowrimo group. My group has write-ins where we all gather together with our computers and kindly guilt each other into writing. We also have a character graveyard, and when you kill a character off, you get to make their headstone and put it in the graveyard. That's popular. Morbid, but popular.

And if you want to be serious about it, Nanowrimo is a good way to develop a daily habit of writing if you don't have one. It's also a way to challenge yourself to write more than you usually do. This will be my third year doing it, and I've gotten better at it each year. This time around, I have an actual plot line. It's sketchy, but it's complete from start to finish, with climax and epilogue planned too. I know the characters. I've got themes and imagery in mind. Oh, and it's a trilogy so I'm starting with book one. I am more than ready to write. 

I think Nanowrimo has helped me to get to this point. It's not the only factor. My determination, my friends, and my writers critique group have all helped too. But Nanowrimo is the tool I've used to help myself write, and keep writing, even if the writing goes off track or gets muddy. It's helped me beat some of the fear I feel about writing something that may not be great.

If you're interested in participating, visit the Nanowrimo website and get started. There's no fee (though they encourage donations), and there's no prize except for the pride you feel at writing more words in a month than some people write in a lifetime. And the camaraderie you have with people like me, who are in with you and will encourage you all the way.

Copyright (c) 2011 by Michele Chiappetta. All rights reserved.

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