Friday, October 4, 2013

[NaNoWriMo] Countdown to NaNoWriMo: An Intro for the Uninitiated/What to Write?

November 1st is just four weeks away, and you all know what that means! Well, maybe not, so I'll explain.

November is National Novel Writing Month - more commonly referred to as NaNoWriMo - which is an event where writers from across the world join each other in an EPIC quest to write 50,000 words - which is technically the minimum word count for a novel, but also the maximum word count for a novella - over the course of 30 days. If you're not a writer - or maybe even if you are - that probably sounds less like fun and more like an awful lot of work. But it's a great creative exercise, because it encourages writers to ignore their inner editors - that annoying little voice that nags at as you write that this thing you're working on is pants, or that word's spelled wrong, the grammar needs work here...augh, hate that guy - and just WRITE for writing's sake.

If you're a writer and you've been feeling creatively drained - like I have - then it's a great way to unblock your brain and rediscover the FUN in writing. Even if you're not a writer, maybe you've always thought it would be fun to try writing a novel; well, this is a great chance to give it a shot and see if it's something you'll enjoy, or if it really just feels like a lot of work and stress. You'll never know until you try though, so fire in!

Whether you're a new writer or not, the NaNoWriMo community - which you can access online, but there may also be a local NaNo community you can join via the website - will be a great help over the course of November; you'll have fellow writers to cheer you on and offer support when you're down in the doldrums, offer advice when you get stuck and offer prompts and dares if you're looking for stuff to add to your plot. The online community can also become a means of procrastination though, so BEWARE.

I've participated in NaNoWriMo every year since 2009 but I've only won once, back in 2010. I fully intend to be a winner for a second time this year, and hope to go on to maintain a winning streak for years to come. And with November 1st less than a month away it's time for me to start pre-planning what I intend to write for this year's NaNo. A lot of people start pre-NaNo prep in September, while others don't do any prep at all and just pants - that's a highly technical term for writing, well, by the seat of one's pants, basically - their way through the month. Me? I wish I had started prep in September - because, y'know two months prep is better than one - but as always it didn't occur to me until the e-mail arrived announcing the yearly NaNo site reboot, which happens at the start of October. Still, I've come to the conclusion that I'm not that great at pantsing, so any amount prep I can get done will be better than none at all.

To begin my prep, I need to decide on what I'm actually going to write. At the moment, I'm just trying to make up my mind whether to use this year's NaNo as an opportunity to make progress with the Doctor Who/Evangelion crossover fanfic I've had kicking around in my brain for the past couple of years - or to work on an original project drawn from my myriad of stalled or unused story ideas. On the one hand, working on the Doctor Who/Evangelion fanfic should keep my mind (at least partly) in the Doctor Who zone, which might be helpful since I'm going to be running a Doctor Who campaign for my local RP society and it'll keep my enthusiasm up, as well as cut down on the distraction from the Whoniverse that working on another project is likely to incur. On the other hand, I feel terrible guilt about indulging in fanfiction writing which is a whole other can of worms, so I'm going to keep a lid on it for use in a later post.

Even if I don't go the fanfiction route though, I'm wary about using any of my existing ideas for NaNoWriMo. For those of us who are already writers, NaNoWriMo presents an excellent excuse to cut out all the usual distractions of our lives and get down to work on projects we've been keeping on the backburner until now. The problem with doing this, though, is that you already have an investment in such pre-existing ideas and it will be much harder to shutdown your inner editor and just throw caution to the wind. If it's an idea you've been thinking about for a while you've had time to grow attached to it, to become protective of it; you want it to be the best it can be, so it'll be harder to just cut loose and let yourself write without inhibition. In this sense, it's better to come to NaNoWriMo with a freshly-brewed idea; the problem there is that fresh ideas don't always come when you really need them. In fact, in my experience, those are the times they're least likely to appear.

I don't know what I'll be writing yet, but hopefully I'll have it figured out by next week, because that will give me three weeks to do some prep work before it's time to get to work. Whatever my project ends up being, I'm super-excited to be doing NaNoWriMo again and looking forward to sharing the journey with my fellow WriMos. It's gonna be AWESOME. ;)

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