NaNoWriMo NaNoRising

November looms, and so too does this year’s National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.  Don’t let the funny name fool you; this is serious business, known to have made the rational insane and the insane brilliant.  Loved ones are ignored, personal hygiene falls by the wayside, and fingers are worn down to nubs as we peck away at our keyboards for thirty straight days.  This will be my fifth time participating, and I’m a shaky one-for-four so far with regards to completing the challenge (let’s hear it for 2011).  That’s not stopping me from trying again.  If anything, I’m determined to see this through to the end this time around.

As always, the hardest part is figuring out what to write.  By the spirit of NaNoWriMo, it’s supposed to be something you’ve started from scratch, which should rule out trying to finish something I’ve started previously.  But the one time I did finish, I expanded a thousand-word short story into a (not very good) fifty thousand-word novel.  That was less than one day’s worth of words though, and it took some good work to fit the existing story into the novel, so I didn’t feel too bad about it.  And it’s not like I’m lacking in short stories I could gather inspiration from.  So that’s an option.

Or I could come up with something new and get it all planned out before November starts.  Sketch out the plot, some characters, the major beats, get it all down so that I have a framework to build on.  I doubt it would survive contact with the actual writing process — no outline ever does — but I’d at least have the safety net of knowing what the hell I was planning to do with fifty thousand words.  Besides, one of my biggest writing vices is getting bogged down in the planning phase.  It’s too easy to look at the bare bones and imagine the really great thing it could be, then get discouraged at the thought of having to make that perfect thing real.

Another much scarier option is to sit down at the keyboard on November 1st and just go.  Whatever pops into my head gets put right into that Google document.  No previous story, no planning, nothing but my head and a keyboard.  That’s the high wire act, folks, the leap of faith that you’ll eventually get somewhere more significant that a few thousand words strung together.  I’ve done it for shorter pieces and it can be exhilarating, but the thought of trying to sustain that frenzy for thirty days is fairly daunting.

Whatever I’m going to do, I’d better decide soon, because October is ticking away.  I build up last year’s NaNoWriMo as an important one, needing to prove that 2011’s success was not a fluke.  Yeah, not so much.  So this year, no pressure other than to finish.  No significance, no lofty goals, no label attached to finishing.  Just getting the damn thing done.  Having tried this five times now, I can say from experience that’s accomplishment enough.


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