In November, I took the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) plunge as part of a cohort at UCLA Extension. Every morning and evening revolved around pumping up my word count: a minimum of 1,667 words per day for 30 days to reach 50,000 words by November 30. Double-spaced, this comes to roughly 200 pages.
NaNoWriMoing proved different from any other Creative Writing strategy I’d ever tried. No worries about typos and grammar or plot holes and under-developed characters. Just write a story with a beginning, middle and end. No going back for editing. Fill in the blanks later during revision time (Or “RE-VISION” as my instructor described it) in December and beyond.
I finished 20 days into the month, driven primarily by fear of not making my deadline. Not remarkable stats by any means. One woman in my class wrote a new novel every week during November, and one man finished his novel at 100,000 words.
Now I hold a manuscript draft ensconced with at least six sub-plots, which seem more like seedlings for short stories, or if I’m lucky, a series of novellas. I also came away with idyllic memories of spending eight Thursdays in autumn, walking, writing and dreaming among undergrads less than half my age
December swept me away with holiday bustle. In between bouts of merry-making, I found snatches of time to expand one of my subplots in historical fiction and begin to co-write a new mainstream romance. By Christmas, though,I stopped writing.
I felt burnt out and in need of refilling my creative vessel, so I rewarded myself with two softcover, best-sellers from Target. I chose The Paris Wife by Paula McClain and The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker, and felt the quiet thrill of knowing I’d soon lose myself in the pleasures of fiction.
One NaNoWriMo slogan prods fledgling novelists: “Love Books? Write One!” Why not re-interpret their urging as “Love Books? Read One!” or more for winter. After all, if December was the month for revision, reading a fresh book in January offers the writer’s soul a chance for renewal.
- An Updated Directory of Literature (sort of) (the-unmutual.blogspot.com)
- Editing your NaNoWriMo novel THREE BITE SIZE GUIDES TO EDITING AND REVISING THE FIRST DRAFT part 1 (bridgetwhelan.com)