Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NaNoWriMo - look Ma, I wrote a book!

Right, so every year when November rolls around it's time for National Novel Writing Month (despite the name it's very much an international affair).

NaNoWriMo is a challenge to anyone who has ever wished they could write a novel (and most of us who love books have, at one stage or another, dreamt that they could write one of their own). The challenge is to do just that, write your damn book!

You are challenged to put aside the things that usually distract you, those things that usually absorb all of your free time, and concentrate on simply putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to knock out 1667 words per day for 30 days.

This is the first year in a long time that I've actually had a little free time (no exams, no assignments - bliss) and I had desperately wanted to do it in 2009 when I'd first heard about it - so I decided that I would give it a shot.

I don't want to give a blow by blow account, but it was surprisingly easy to write a coherent story of at least 50000 words (the, disputed, minimum length of a novel).
The trick for me was to switch off my inner censor and just write, regardless of whether I thought I was pushing out absolute tripe. Having the minimum word count (and a fancy graph that let's you know if you've fallen behind) was something that I found seriously motivating.

Although my novel is really only good enough for kindling, I learnt a lot along the way. First off, I learnt that writing something of novel length is not nearly as intimidating as it seems at first (although writing something of quality at novel length is a slightly different story). Secondly, I learnt a lot about pacing something that's longer than a few pages - I learnt that I can slow things down a little, take my time to develop ideas and scenes. Pushing through this first NaNovel was an invaluable lesson in writing, worth way more to me than final product.

I can't recommend NaNoWriMo enough, it was a fantastic experience. If you've ever wanted to write a novel, but have never managed to get past the first few pages, consider tackling NaNoWriMo next year.

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