“I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.”
― Douglas Adams, The Salmon of Doubt
Every year at the end of October I, along with every other wannabe writer across the whole wide world (and many others), is faced with a tough choice. To do NaNoWriMo or not?
To those of you that don’t know – NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to hammer out 50,000 words (not quite a whole novel – but close enough) in the month of November. It’s a tough decision – you want to make an honest shot at it, but it is a huge commitment of time, energy, and pride. It is hard to do, easy to give up.
November won’t be the best of months for me. I’ll be in New Orleans for the first few days (Halloween in the French Quarter is not to be missed) and then off to Louisville, Kentucky for a week long business trip. I know it sounds easy to sit in a strange hotel room and hammer off a couple hours of work every evening – but in practice it doesn’t work out very well. I’m always really worn out after any work day – especially one on the road. Plus, folks always have extra work – want to go out to eat… that sort of thing.
I will almost certainly be behind right from the beginning – and playing catchup isn’t fun.
I’ve given this a serious shot about three times, and only succeeded once. My two failures were when I wrote myself into a corner and couldn’t figure out a way out. I know this sounds silly – the idea is to write, not necessarily write well – why didn’t I just change things up when stuck? Well, it doesn’t work like that. The characters take on a life of their own and sometimes they simply refuse to do anything worth writing about.
The one year I won I wrote a story that included a lot of flashbacks (the framing story was an old man in a beach house during a hurricane, the water is rising and he is taking stock of his life) so that I could always add another vignette if I was stuck. That worked.
The only problem is that at eleven fifty at night on the last day of November I thought I had finished. I ran my stuff through the word counter one last time and to my horror discovered I was about a hundred words short. Trying to hammer out that last hundred words in ten minutes with the clock ticking was unbelievably and unbearably difficult. I don’t want to do that again.
It helps to not be in this alone. A friend of mine is giving it a shot too – there are always some social events (there is something amazingly cool about writing in public with a group of strangers – all hammering away in silence) – maybe I’ll organize one or two.
My username is Chancew1 – if you want to write sometime. I can even post a snippet or two here, if the fancy strikes me.
Wish me luck.