On November 1, 2015, the NaNo will begin.
Sharpen your pencils (really?), sharpen your quills, get out your parchment paper, turn on your computers, laptops, notebooks (both electronic and paper)—and do the NaNo.
No, it is not like the TanGo.
National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) was started in 1999 by Chris Baty, who thought of a novel (get it?) idea that people could write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. The NaNo took off and is now a world-wide phenomenon. Chris also wrote No Plot? No Problem in 2004, which is a well-thumbed holy book for NaNoers across the globe. Every November, people who live in Kansas and Saskatoon and New Zealand and Austin listen for the imaginary pistol shot that signals the start of the race to complete 50,000 words of writing in 30 days.
It doesn’t matter what the words are. They don’t have to be good, bad, or indifferent. They don’t have to make any sense. Your ego is not on the line. It’s just words.
The most important thing is—don’t give up. Persevere. Every single day for 30 days you must produce 1667 words. If you produce 1667 words every day for 30 days, you will have 50,010 words.
You will be a winner. You will have done the NaNo. You are a champion.
What have you won?
You have won the sure and certain knowledge that you can write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. The excuses such as, “I don’t have time to write,” “I just can’t write a novel,” “I can’t think of a plot,” “I don’t think I have any talent,” don’t matter. If you produce 1667 words times 30 and enter it before midnight on Nov. 30, you can call yourself a novelist.
Chris Baty didn’t pretend that everyone would write a masterpiece or a best seller or even something coherent. That’s not the point. The point of NaNoWriMo is to show self-doubting writers and wannabe writers that they can complete a novel. It can be done. After weeping and gnashing your teeth and tearing your hair out for 30 days and a thousand nights, you can stand proud and tall and say “I wrote a %%$#^% novel in 30 days. I finished a project.”
Many writers start novels, but have trouble finishing them. They start thinking maybe the writing isn’t very good, the plot is stupid, the characters are boring, or the dialog is stilted. Then they quit the sad, unfinished baby novel and tell themselves maybe they really aren’t writers anyway.
Congratulations. You have discovered your Internal Editor.
It criticizes everything you do. It says you aren’t good enough. You’ll never be good enough. Why even try? Just go eat a quart of ice cream in the corner and shut up.
But, if you glom onto NaNo with a death grip for 30 days, you can thumb your nose at Internal Editor and say “Nya, Nya, Nya. I wrote a %$#$%^^ novel in 30 days, you miserable *%^%^&.”
Now that we’ve explored what NaNoWriMo is and what it can do for you, let’s talk about actually doing it this November.
My friend Kayla Marnach, whom I met in 2009 at a Writers’ League class at Sul Ross University in Alpine, is a five-time winner of NaNoWriMo. She will teach “Tips and Tricks are NaNo Bricks: Building Your Novel in 30 Days” at the San Gabriel Writers’ League meeting at 7 p.m. on Nov. 5 at the Georgetown Public Library. Kayla has also published a children’s book called My Body’s Mine. I will be in Georgetown to cheer her on and learn more about those tips and tricks.
I am hosting two write-ins at the Hutto Public Library on Saturdays, Nov. 7 and Nov. 14 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Write-ins occur when lonely NaNoers congregate with their laptops and snacks and coffee cups at a book store, library, coffee shop, restaurant, or any place that is having a write-in. People go there to work, to pound out words, to absorb caffeine and to ingest calories. They are seeking group warmth and solace, as, like herd animals, they stick together to ward off the terrors of novel writing.
So if you want to be a Penguin (in the Austin region, we are the Penguins, as opposed to the Maryland Crabs, for instance) and write to glorify yourself and your NaNo regional group, look up http://nanowrimo.org/ After you sign up, find your region. You’ll find friends and forums. The folks on the website are very welcoming. It’s all free. You get pep talks and your own NaNo e-mail box and writing buddies and tips and encouragement. They are great cheerleaders. They are the antithesis of the Internal Editor.
If you’re looking for tips on doing the NaNo, go hear Kayla at the San Gabriel Writers’ League on Nov. 5 at the Georgetown Library. If you happen to be passing by Hutto Public Library on Nov. 7 and 14, bring your laptop and come on in. We will give you big smiles and snacks. And it’s all free.
To learn more about the local NaNo scene in Central Texas, go to AuNoWriMos on Facebook. To reiterate, get a free account at NaNoWriMo at http://nanowrimo.org/ and find your local region, find out who your Municipal Liaisons (ML) are, and look at the write-in calendar for November.
Let the NaNo begin!