The clock is ticking, if you are reading my blog today, the 26th, you have only five days left to get your ducks in line. Why? October is coming to a close and November is National Novel Writing Month. See www.NaNoWriMo.org for details.
In brief, you commit to write a 50,000-word novel by the end of the month. That’s only 1500 words a day. Last year, 200,000 writers participated, and 30,000 met the deadline. A procrastinator at-heart, I am always keen to have a deadline. If I didn’t have a deadline, I would accomplish nothing.
What I like most about WriMo is the sense of community. When you live in the hinterland as I do, a community of writers is hard to come by. Writing is a lonely business, and it feels good to be a part of a larger living organism. It is nice to know that someone somewhere is struggling with word choice, character development, and a stalled plot.
If you go to the WriMo site, click on “NaNo Near You,” and under that headline, you’ll see that WriMo is a worldwide phenomenon. Some countries stand alone; larger countries are broken down by counties, and many large cities have their own count. Last year 2,132 writers participated in India; 2,087 in the Philippines, 159 in Egypt, and 271 in Turkey. If you are wondering about a particular country/city, you can check the statistics for yourself on the WriMo website.
Living as I do an hour’s drive from anywhere, I was particularly taken with Elsewhere, the catch-all category that scoops up all the strays not listed under a specific county or city. Within the state of Colorado, Denver had 3,320 participants and Boulder 1,343. Other cities (all university towns) are listed, but certainly not Westcliffe where writers are writing from elsewhere.
Not that there is anything wrong in coming from elsewhere. Quite the contrary, I look at the elsewhere numbers, and I am linked to thousands just like me. I am not alone. I find the elsewhere number gratifying. Melbourne weighed in with 3,048 participants, but Australia’s elsewhere numbered a respectable 1,516. Africa had 4,222 elsewheres. Colorado had 920.
I love these elsewheres. In addition to counting your words, NaNoWriMo has a great writers’ forum. “Plot doctoring” has had 12,844 hits, and their reference desk has had 12,486. If, for example, you want to know “how to kill someone with a peach,” someone in the virtual writers’ community will give you suggestions. Handy stuff.
Will I participate? Not this year. I don’t have a plot ready. On the other hand, I could use the timeframe to clean up a box full of poems, essays and short stories that could take a second look. What if… throughout November, I resolve to spend two hours a day collating and revising? I’ll let you know how it goes.
If you do plan to join NaNoWriMo, you do not want to end up with 50,000 worthless words. Get to work now on outlining your plot, the conflicts, the resolutions and your rounded, complex characters. When Nov. 1 rolls around, you want to be ready to rumble.
If, like me, you are unprepared to write 1500 words a day, set a shorter goal for the month. Send the rejected novel out to another publisher. Take another look at the novel you have been meaning deep-six.
Feeling totally uninspired? Go to the library; check out a DVD that you have never seen, and steal a plot from the jacket notes. Good luck!