Why NaNoWriMo Matters

I’m a big fan of NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, held each November. For those of you living under a rock, NaNoWriMo is basically a contest you hold with yourself to write that damn novel you keep talking about to all your friends. You have 30 days (no cheating or starting early) to pound out 50,000 words, which breaks down to 1667 words a day if my elementary school math hasn’t failed me.

Let me tell you, you can write 1667 words a day. You can finish or nearly finish a 50k novel in a month. You can impress the hell out of your friends and it’ll only take a little blood, sweat, and tears, as well as keeping your ass in the chair. You also probably need an idea, but I can’t really help you with that.

I’ve participated since 2008, and completed it in 2009, 2010 and 2011. I’ll do it again this year because I can pound out a shitty first draft in 30 days or I can take 8 months all the same. 30 days is far less stress for me and I need a deadline otherwise I’ll just catch up on Hart of Dixie and The Good Wife or take a nap rather than write.

I’m not saying these novels I wrote during NaNoWriMo are any good. The first one (an adult romance) is pretty much just a steaming pile of horse shit with a lot of sex. The second manuscript I wrote was my first YA and that fared a little better, though it was pretty autobiographical and if published in it’s current state, at least one ex-boyfriend would sure my ass. My third NaNoWriMo (which was my third YA novel), which I thought had to be another pile of horse crap, turned out to be not as bad as expected. I looked at it for the first time in nearly a year last night and I was laughing. It was actually funny. As it turns out, I have salvageable here.

This is why NaNoWriMo matters.

Even if you spend 30 days writing shit, there’s still probably a nugget of usefulness in there, whether it was one line of dialogue, a scene, or even the plot. No one ever has to see that shitty draft but you.

As I wait for NaNoWriMo 2012 to roll around in two weeks, I’m editing last year’s manuscript. I have zero expectations for it, I just want to see if I can make it better. Maybe I don’t have to write these dark, gritty YA stories all the time. I can have fun with something lighter and fluffier that has some funny bits and an epileptic dog (note: it was during this time last year that Mae West was diagnosed with epilepsy and I needed to write through my fear).

There’s plenty of time to prep for NaNoWriMo. All day today on Twitter, under the hashtag #nanoprep, people are offering advice. During the next two Wednesdays I’ll give you some of my own advice about staying motivated and meeting word counts. Come November 1, I’ll be right alongside you sweating out nearly 1700 words today.

You can be my writing buddy.

Go to http://www.nanowrimo.org. You can learn all about the history of it and how it’s helped well known authors achieve success. Sign up and then do a search for me (DRDSpice). Together we’ll be accountable.

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