Prepping for NaNoWriMo 2011
I’m in the midst of prepping for NaNoWriMo 2011. I first took on the challenge in 2009, and that’s what led me to the completion of the “never to see the light of day” manuscript which sits in the virtual drawer on my computer. Although that effort was abandoned upon completion (that’s another topic for another day – knowing when to hide your manuscript away from the world rather than pursue publication), I think that NaNoWriMo itself has true merits. After all, Sara Gruen started “Water for Elephants” as a NaNoWriMo manuscript, and look where that led.
My new book (the 2011 NaNoWriMo project) has been hibernating for over seven years. The seed was planted back in 2004 when we lived in St. Louis. (More to come in the next post on the germination of literary seeds). The book has been floating around in my head ever since. In June of this year, the story finally started boiling over, and I knew that it was time to write it. Given that I’m constantly juggling the world of writing that pays me money (i.e. non-fiction and journalism) and writing that keeps me awake at night (i.e. this darn novel), finding time to put words on the page is tough. Combine that with two little boys who have homework, sports practice and playdates and a husband who likes a little attention now and then, and it’s not the ideal life for writing a novel. This is the reason I love National Novel Writing Month.
There is something about putting an important acronym title and a deadline on the activity that makes it all the more real. November of 2009 (my first NaNoWriMo) was the most productive period of my fiction career. I’ve always been a sucker for accountability. And even if the accountability is nothing more than the progress bar that inches across my NaNoWriMo homepage, it’s enough to keep me going for a full month.
My goal this year is 2,000 words a day. My latest novel clocks in at approximately 100,000 words, so I’ll be pressing on for two to three more weeks after November 30 in the hopes of finishing the first draft before my kids are out of school for the holiday break. And no, I don’t plan on querying agents immediately after finishing. NaNoWriMo is the mandatory diarrhea-of-the-brain exercise (pardon the expression) that I need to get the first draft out of my brain and onto the paper. My first drafts are often VERY dialogue heavy with minimal redeeming description. And the descriptions that do slip in are ridiculous and frankly, laughable. However, moving the story along from opening scene to climax and denouement is such an important part of writing. If you don’t get it down (in all of its painful and ugly glory), you can’t edit and edit AND edit to something wonderful.
And that, my friends, is why I will be spending every evening of November pounding out draft #1 of the The Spaces Between Us (working title). How about you? How’s your writing going these days? Are any of you taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge this year? If you need a writing buddy, you’ll know where to find me.
Since I just admitted that I’m the most productive when I have a quantifiable goal, here’s my NaNoWriMo desktop calendar for 2011. I love having a word count to keep me going, and I was inspired by a Van Gogh painting of cherry blossoms. Must be the seven inches of new snow we have on the ground right now that inspired me to think of spring. Click on the image to open in a new window and right click to download at full size.
Good luck with NaNoWriMo and Happy Writing!