So this past weekend I got myself signed up for NaNoWriMo 2016. I’ve been wanting to do this since about 2008 or so, but have never fully committed. When I first became aware of this National Novel Writing Month I was hosting a novel writing workshop over on Zoetrope.com (the Virtual Studio) where we posted novel chapters weekly for reads, reviews and discussion. It was a basically a support group for new novelists
The novels I was flirting with writing back then simply would not have been ideal for something like NaNoWriMo because I am a meticulous plotter and in order to realistically reach the goal of 50,000 words in one month’s time (whew!), you have to embrace writing with little-to-no editing as you go along. Pantsing, it’s called — writing by the seat of your pants completely untethered by the act of editing and revising.
I’ve been in hardcore, OCD edited mode since the first days of being an editor in 2000. You see, when you’re an editor of other people’s work you become HIGHLY aware of what you believe to be exceptional writing and what it takes to achieve it. Which means you also become hyper-aware of what that means in your own writing. You begin to practice what you preach, so to speak. And that’s just one reason why I’ve become such a slowpoke writer over the last decade or more — I get caught up in revising as I go because the belief is it’s better to do the hard work — the editing and refining — early rather than have to do so with hundreds of pages later. That’s one half of it. The other half is not wanting to write yourself into a corner. Sure, outlines help with that, but with only that.
So why am I feeling like I’m primed to finally take the challenge this year? Well, for starters, I’m writing a novel that doesn’t utilize my preferred narrative approach, which is multiple third-person POV, limited. Instead I’m writing a first-person narrative that utilizes the noir voice that I’ve somehow come to do very well, as evident by the response to some older pieces I’ve written in the crime/noir genre over the years. In that approach I know I can get a pretty good unedited flow going because I will essentially take on the role the protagonist and narrated from his point-of-view as if it’s my true life story I’m telling. When you believe it’s your “true story” to tell, the details flow a lot easier
That said, the true challenge will be in managing to minimize distractions, which includes ignoring friends and family for a month. Devoting all free time to this task of amassing essentially 1700 words a day. Good words, bad words, even ugly words. Gotta somehow turn off that inner filter, that inner critic and just let the words exist upon the page without scrutiny.
If I can achieve even just 25,000 – 30,000 words in 30 days, that will be a hell of an accomplishment in and of itself. Everything beyond that will be extra credit for this speed-challenged writer.
Wish me luck. And best of luck to you, if you’re participating this year. Let’s buddy up.