By now you’ve all heard at least a billion times (or at least it feels that way) that NaNoWriMo, the clever acronym for National Novel Writing Month, begins in about two weeks. Yes, that’s right the crazy unabashed writing frenzy begins on November 1st and continues on, plowing its way through the last of the Halloween candy, onto turkey day and through
Black Friday Sales Thanksgiving Day sales (**le sigh**) and culminating on November 30 when, at the stroke of 11:59:59, all participants will collapse onto the floor in complete exhaustion. You know what I have to say to that? Bah-humbug…
Once upon a time the notion of writing a novel in a month was incredibly attractive to me. The idea that I could hold in my hands a complete novel that I had written in just 30 days was intoxicating! So in 2011 I set out to complete the great American novel in just 30 days. That first week of NaNoWriMo I surpassed my target word count, you know, because I rock! The second week I came very close to hitting my target but came up a bit short. I still felt pretty good about being able to finish on time time since I had the padding of extra words from the previous week. The third week things just kind of got away from me, the holiday was approaching and I had a ton to do, but I had no doubt I’d catch my second wind and end strong. Uh – no. I failed BIG time. I was devastated.
But then I realized a few things about myself that I never would have discovered had it not been for NaNoWriMo:
- Writing without editing is not how I write. While doing so occasionally can be great to get my story down on paper, ultimately it doesn’t work for me.
- Writing in a vacuum doesn’t work for me. I’m a needy writer. I need feedback and the occasional pat on the head to let me know I’m on the right track. Hey, I’m nothing if not honest…
- There’s no such thing as writing a complete novel in 30 days. You write a draft in 30 days (and to be fair the NaNoWriMo folks will tell you that what you will write is a draft but so many of us hear “novel” and think “done”). Once you write said draft you still need to spend a great deal of time editing it.
Additionally, and ironically I might add since NaNoWriMo is all about NOT critiquing/editing, I found my first critique group at a NaNoWriMo event. Want to know something really cool? I’m still a member of said group. In addition, I went on to found three other critique groups, two in California and one here on the east coast. And, lastly but certainly in no way least, I became the Critique Group Coordinator for this rocking region!
I can honestly say that if I hadn’t participated in NaNoWriMo I wouldn’t be making this post today. I’m also not so sure I’d be in SCBWI as I probably would have stopped writing out of frustration of being isolated and unsure of myself. I learned a LOT about how I write and what keeps me writing and I found a support group to help keep me grounded and on track. For someone who doesn’t particularly like the process of writing a novel in 30 days, I certainly benefited from taking part in the NaNoWriMo events, and so can you.
Bottom line, you don’t have to participate in NaNoWriMo to join in on all the events as pretty much all of them are open to all writers so, GO TO THEM. Take the time to meet your fellow writers and those in the publishing field that often speak at NaNoWriMo events throughout the month. Make connections and start building your network. You never know what they might lead to – trust me – I know!
Wondering where to go for just such an event? You’re in luck – I have just the thing for you:
SCBWI Kick-off Event for PiBoIdMo and NaNoWriMo
October 20th – 2pm at the Annapolis Library
Hosted by members Sarah Maynard and Lisa Pires.
Please refer to the flyer that was posted on our SCBWI/MD/DE/WV Facebook page for more information.