NaNoWriMo 2013, a week in.

Here we are, a week into NaNoWriMo, or NaNo for those of us who’re veterans of the insanity. There may be a few of you out there asking NaNoWHATMo? After spending two years as my area’s Municipal Liaison (local official representative), I’ve heard this a lot. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month, but the name is a little misleading in that it’s not limited to the US or to any one country, it’s a world wide challenge. To do exactly what the name says, write a novel in a month. Sound crazy? Sound impossible? While it is a little crazy, I assure you, it’s entirely possible.

In setting up the system the creators had to come up with a definition of a novel, what they ended up with was 50,000 words. That will give you about 200 pages a standard mass marketed paperback size book. Not too bad huh? My personal best is just under 70,000 words in November, but I’ve seen people who’ve done over 100,000. Another question I’ve been asked is ‘Is it a contest, and how/what do you win?’ Well, it’s not really a contest, it’s a challenge. The only person you are competing with is yourself. All you have to do to ‘win’ is achieve 50,000 words. As for what you win, mainly it’s bragging rights. The ability to say you did it! (You also get that first draft, and let me tell you, that is priceless! If you stick with it, revise it and edit it, it could be gold!)

So, once again, here we are, a week into NaNo, how are you doing? Are you ahead? Behind? Thrown in the towel? Even if you have, I know from experience, it’s not to late to pick it back up and keep going. My first NaNo was in 2009. I’d never written much more than for communication, or to vent frustrations and feelings but I jumped in with both feet and started writing. I only had a vague idea of what I was doing, but that didn’t stop me. I wrote and wrote and wrote and still had no where near the 50k word count. I gave up, but a few days later an idea occurred to me and I went back and started writing again. I managed to (barely) win that year! The important part was that I did it.

After that I rewrote, revised, edited and rewrote again, then started submitting my manuscript to publishers. I received back rejection after rejection, but finally one of them came back with a comment, one that has really helped the way I write. You see, I’d written that first book in First person, present tense. I’d done it on purpose, but what I didn’t know at the time is that first person, present tense is very hard to do well (especially for a beginning writer) and is even harder to sell. By this time I had another manuscript from NaNo 2010 and I was hard at work on revising/finishing that one. I knew I could save that first book, but it would take an extensive rewrite and changing the entire book from present tense to past tense. It wasn’t something I felt up to at the time. I continued what I was doing and in the end I opted to self-publish in lieu of hunting down a publishing house to take control, and a huge chunk of the income. (Yeah, I admit, I have control issues.) I did NaNo in 2011, and won. (Note to self, I really need to go back and look at that, I have very little memory of what I wrote that year, it may be another book that needs a little polishing and can be published.)

In January 2012 I published Change, it’s the first book in my Kitsune series and my NaNo 2010 project. In the time since I’ve published four more books, the most recent, Robin’s Nest, was my first project, that one I wrote in 2009. I finally sat down and took the time to rewrite it, to fix the problems and the tense. It’s not the same as most of my books but it’s good, I’ve had some people tell me it’s their favorite of all my books.

My point is, even if you think it’s too late to start, it isn’t. Jump in, get your feet wet and start writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be good, you just have to get the ideas and thoughts down. You can fix crappy, you can’t fix non-existent.

Now, go get open your book and write on!

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