A Writer’s Predicament: To NaNo or not to NaNo’

As November has inevitably rolled around again, I see myself caught up in the total insanity that is NaNoWriMo. Now for those who have no idea what I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo is Nation Novel Writing Month. Essentially it is a challenge for writers to write a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November, forsaking all other writing (well that’s not necessarily true but it certainly helps if you also have a full time job). It also aims to raise money through donations and merchandise for literary based charity programs funding things such as libraries and literacy programs.

Most of all though it’s a way for a community that mainly embarks on solitary journeys of writing to embrace fellow writers, and band together for a month of mayhem, late nights, early mornings and fun. It also opens you up to a whole range of experts willing to help with research via its highly frequented forums. Personally I’ve seen questions about everything from drag queens to astrophysics and have asked some bizarre questions myself.

Many people who find out that I’m doing NaNo again ask ‘well what do you win?’ They always look perplexed when I answer that the prize is the satisfaction of writing 50,000 words in 30 days, 1667 words a day in between a 9-5 job, looking after fur-children and myself and attempting to have at least a skerrick of a social life as things like Christmas functions begin to pop up in my calendar.

Sure there is no cash prizes or publishing deals offered for the winner, but as a past winner, with my home printed certificate framed and on the wall, any writer will understand it’s the words that are the prize themselves. And even if you don’t win and get that shiny certificate and page upon page of novelly goodness, the act of giving it a go and getting at least part of one of the stories rattling around in your brain down on paper/screen in a mere 30 days makes the challenge and the lack of sleep and sanity worth it.

My NoNo history is not the longest (the idea started in 1999 according to the website and I only began in 2005) and not the most successful (I only got to 9000 words in 2007!) but certainly enjoyable. The first year I did NaNo I was working part time in a department store which I have to say made it a lot easier than it is now I have a full time job with a 2 hour commute round trip. I started on the 2nd day with no idea what I was writing and ended up with a rather crass zombie themed erotica that I intend to one day rewrite into something a little more solid. Those who read it though seemed to enjoy it and I certainly enjoyed writing it! That year I won. The second year despite all my planning I only got to 37,000 words and they went downhill from there. HOWEVER this year I’m back with a vengeance with my writing buddies (my mum included) by my side and so far I’m well ahead of schedule! Granted its only day 3…

But anyway, if you’ve been neglecting your writing or are lacking motivation TRY IT! If not this year, next year. Forget coming home and plonking in front of the TV, mindlessly staring at the box, get off your butts, dust off your notebooks/laptops etc (My writing method of choice is a 10inch netbook I can jam in my bag, well and truly worth the money). The social aspect isn’t compulsory and even the not so computer savvy have a chance. (my mother is living proof of this; she gets me to upload her word count every night).

NaNo is a slightly different type of challenge for everyone. For me its tearing myself away from reading and trolling the internet. My mother on the other hand is a woman who doesn’t stop cleaning and doing things, so for her the challenge is to get her to still for long enough and allow herself to write. And hell may still freeze over but I have watched her sit and type for hours on end each night so far.

So if all NaNo does is give you a valid excuse to write I say GO FOR IT! The madness is worth it. You can sleep in December.

Check it all out at www.nanowrimo.org


About the Author:  Sabrina R G Raven is a fiction writer from Brisbane who lives with her fur-children Hermione, Nymphadora and Minerva. By day she is a mild mannered insurance guru, by night she is… well a little mad. But as the Cheshire Cat said “we’re all mad here”.

Published in: on November 3, 2010 at 3:13 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Awesome. Loved it. NaNo is a challenge for sure, but it’s so much fun and really pushes you creative juices to a place that is dark and fast. I found last year that the rest of my work was written quicker because i was still in the nano mindset. Good luck and godspeed.
    – Mitchell.

  2. It always gets me going and I hope that even if I become some bigwig writer that I am still humble enough to knuckle down for NaNo. My theory is that’s how Bryce Courtney does a novel a year. *

    *I have no proof of this but the idea makes me smile

  3. […] There are two very different schools of thought when it comes to writing I’ve found – the planners and the free writers. This difference becomes widely apparent at this time of the year, especially in my house. That’s right folks; NaNoWriMo is once again upon us. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, please see last year’s entry on NaNoWriMo here. […]

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