NaNoWriMo

Last night I signed up for The National Novel Writing Month, and I’m already looking forward to it. The idea is that you start writing at midnight on November 1st and stop at midnight November 30th with a 50,000 word novel. I especially like the Special Olympics quality of the event, because if you finish, you win! Yay!

Their best line is that novel writing is a “one day event.” As in, “one day I’ll write a novel.” That’s been my M.O. for years. I’ve been convinced that I could write an undisputed masterpiece of fiction, no question; the only reason it wasn’t already done is that I’d just never gotten around to the technical detail of actually sitting down and typing it. NaNoWriMo is perfect for attitudes like that — it’ll either be the start of something really cool, or it’ll be a much-needed dose of humility.

I realize I’m potentially setting myself up for a fall. I’ve already got a job that’s mostly writing documents in Word, and I haven’t been doing a stellar job of keeping up with that. Plus I signed up to do at least one column a week for SFist, plus this website, plus a couple of trips next month including one back east for Thanksgiving. Now I’m adding 1500 words a day. In my case, the word count isn’t really a problem — any unfortunate sap who’s been on the receiving end of one of my e-mails when I’m in the middle of a personal crisis can tell you that. Or for that matter, anyone who slogs through these entire blog posts.

So it’s not the number of words, it’s ending up with something salvageable by the end of it. That’s the other reason I think the NaNoWriMo is such a good idea — it forces you to abandon all the “this sucks” thinking that keeps getting you stuck, and instead just keep pouring everything out, rid of any delusions that what you’re pouring out doesn’t suck.

I’m pretty sure I’ve already got the idea for what I’m going to write, too. It’s this thing that started out as a videogame proposal back when I was at LucasArts; I was convinced it was going to be groundbreaking. I eventually realized it was a lousy game proposal, so I became convinced that it would make a great webcomic. That obviously never materialized either, so now it’s going to be my November novel. It’s about giant robots and atomic bombs and a team of superheroes. It’s going to be awful. I can’t wait.

5 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo”

  1. Jess, are you talking about wanting to read mine, or Matt’s? Because Matt’s a better writer since he does it for a living, and (I think this is safe to say on the internets) he has a goal of 50,000 words and a secondary but no less important goal that 1,000 of those be swear words.

    My friend Joe also signed up, and he’s got a very cool concept for it that I think is awesome.

    The subtext here is that I think all my friends should sign up for it. Not only will it give them the joy of creative satisfaction, but it’ll keep them from wanting to read mine.

  2. Aw, man– I signed up last year and made it already to Nov 2nd before I gave up. I consider it a personal best. But you’re a much better writer and seem to have better stick-to-itiveness than I do. I am looking forward to read what comes of your November.

  3. Hey Chuck,

    I think you can do it and it will only partially suck. Some parts will be really, really amusing. And other parts will really suck. But it sure does lift the pressure that you CAN’T LOOK BACK and need to just KEEP WRITING. The little word coun thing began a nervous twitch for me last year.

    What’s the name of the super hero group? Or do I have to wait? And Are you going to blog each days writing? That seems crazy to me, but lots of folks do it.

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