I know there are still a couple of months until NaNoWriMo, but I believe in being prepared. I also wanted to say why I think NaNoWriMo is an amazing idea for any budding writers.
For those of you who don't know, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. For the entirety of November, everybody is encouraged to write a novel/novelette for the month, which means 50,000 words in 30 days. I know what you're thinking. It sounds impossible. But it can be achieved. With hard work, effort, and a lot of writing, you can write a novel in a month. Or if you don't manage the 50,000, at least you have the makings of a novel to finish and redraft when you have time.
NaNoWriMo is a great experience. I only found out about NaNo a couple of years ago. Last NaNo, I had such a busy November that I could only manage 30k, and it was on a novel that was already in progress. But that was OK. Back then, I still had a lot to learn, and the month really taught me about writing. My limits. What I could do. How fun writing could be, how good it felt to have my fingers running across the keys like crazy and seeing the plot develop in such a short time frame. For that month, I lived and breathed writing. Put simply, I loved it.
That's not to say it wasn't stressful. It was. Hours spent at the laptop, watching the clock and calendar as my time ticked down, desperately trying to sort any plot holes, thinking of new scenes and creating sub-plots ... it was a massive challenge. But at the end of the month, I was extremely proud of myself, and I made a huge amount of progress, both in my writing skills and my novel. I ended up finishing that novel in January, and it became my first novel. Without NaNo, I probably would have taken a couple of months longer to finish, which meant I wouldn't have started my second novel so soon. NaNo set things in motion for me, and it will for you too.
It's not just the NaNo itself which is good. The website for NaNo has helpful articles and information in the run-up to November, the forums are a brilliant way to connect with other writers and participators in the event and have information on publishing, rewrites, plots, life after NaNo, literally everything you could need. Even if you aren't participating in NaNo I'd recommend it, you'd be hard pressed to get such a wide and informative forum anywhere else. It's a fantastic way to relate to other writers of any age. Nobody is exempt from NaNo, and you don't have to limit yourself to 50,000 words. Set your own target! You don't even have to write a novel. A script. Non-fiction. Memoir. Anything you want. It's your month, and you can do with it what you will.
This year, I'm aiming high. 70,000 words in one month. I have my plot, I have my characters, and I have an outline. All I have to do is fill in the blanks between the main points in my outline, then write the novel. And obviously, lot of redrafting. Writing in such a rush does not prompt the most coherent pages. But that can all be fixed later.
Personally, I'm excited for this year’s NaNo. I have a great idea, something I've wanted to put on paper (or computer) for a while now, but until now I haven't had the time or schedule to do so. I'm also taking a break from heavy duty writing for the next two months until NaNo, so I'm looking forward to get into the part of writing I love - writing itself. Rewrites can always come later. Plus, it'll be good to think that somehow this year I've accomplished five novels. Obviously, the main body of a couple of them were done last year. But I finished them this year. The first drafts are completely done, and I've even completed one of my series, which I'm thrilled about. But finishing first drafts means in no way that I'm done. I have a ton of editing to do, which I'll probably get to next year. I had my writing fun this year. 2011 will be a year for growth. But more on that in another post.
I hope you do participate in NaNo this year. It's such a great experience, even if you don't 'win', and it'll help a lot. Oh, and despite the stress, it is incredibly fun. Check out the forums too, they really do have good advice and help.