November is National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo. It challenges any writer, including you, to sit down at keyboard and dedicate the month to writing 50,000 words, preferably as a novel, in 30 days. It doesn’t have to be polished or even coherent. (You conceivably can type one word 50,000 times). The purpose is to get people in the swing of writing. NaNoWriMo has a website where you can register your word count progress each day and see if you’re on track to meet the goal. As you might imagine, churning out a 50,000 word novel requires concentrated dedication. To stay on track and possible win at the end of the month, you must average about 1,666 words or a day or 3 1/2 pages doublespaced.
NaNoWriMo has been an internet creative project since 1999. Each year when it was publicized, I thought it sounded interesting but year after year went by and I never participated either because I heard about it too late or felt daunted by the idea of 50,000 words. This year my fanfic series happened to coincide with this year’s project. What better way, friends pointed out, to break your writer’s block than NaNoWriMo?
So I registered and then panicked. Not one to cheat typing gibberish, I needed a plot, but plotting was my main stumbling block. I moaned and procrastinated for five days, not writing a single word. My kingdom for a plot! Desperate, I turned to my old beta reader and plotter extraordinaire. She can reel off a plot in less than 2 minutes without thinking hard. Look, she said. Think about a goal, create obstacles to accomplishing that goal, and then find the solutions to those obstacles. Easy peasy! Okaaay.
For the conclusion of my series on fanfic writing, I wrote a standalone scene. If you read the Foolish Friday Fan fic post last week, then you know what one I mean. Since I usually don’t care for scenes without plots, I wanted to write a story around it. Hence, my story for NaNoWriMo was born. So on the 6th day, I sat down to write and instantly stalled. What was my first sentence? Where was this story starting? No problem, the NaNoWriMo forums had openers you could adopt and take home. So I adopted one. It turned out to be not everything I wanted but it did help jumpstart the opening paragraph.
Over two days, I pounded out over 8,000 words, no mean feat with a short attention span right now. I spent 70% of the time daydreaming and 30% actually typing. It gave me a taste of how things can be when Winston finally comes to heel. I concocted a semblance of a plot, wrote in the standalone scene and sat back. The result was – a lot of words. Seriously, the result was an uneven story, but a real recognizable story nevertheless. Since the goal requires I keep going, there isn’t much time for polishing the rough edges. The chance of reaching 50,000 words is nil; I will be happy to hit 25,000. I’ve never written a 25,000 word story in my life. So I’m certain to finish the month with a sense of having chipped away a bit at my writer’s block. Another mark for creativity, yes!