August is coming quickly to a close (yay!) and already my various internet hangouts are starting to talk about November. Ah, November, that lovely time of the year when many of my writer friends go completely crazy and decide to write a whole novel first draft in thirty days. I'm proud to count myself among the crazies, because NaNoWriMo is just plain fantastic.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month which is held in November every year. The point, as I mentioned, is to write 50,000 words in just thirty days. For many people, this is a whole novel (or, at least, the first draft of one). For me, it's about half a novel, or maybe a third of a novel, if I'm feeling particularly inspired (I love the big, fat fantasy novels!), but generally my goal is to write a whole first draft.
It's two months away and already people are talking about it, planning for it, hooking up with other people who are participating this year, and debating whether it's a good idea or not. So, I thought I'd do a little post about why I love NaNo, and why I will absolutely be there! (I'm MarySipe on the boards, BTW!)
So many writers have trouble gagging their inner editor, that little voice in the back of your head that tells you that your grammar sucks, your plot is ridiculous, your characters are thoroughly unlikeable and you'll never amount to anything. There are times when it's good to have that little voice in your ear, pushing you forward just so you can prove it wrong and then go "HA!" But when you're writing a first draft, that's the last little voice you need. Because first drafts are never, ever perfect. Maybe somewhere out there is a writer who nails it that first time through, but it's definitely not me. And, in all likelihood, speaking strictly by percentages, it's not you, either.
A first draft is just that, a draft, and the first of many (or at least a few) for most writers. It takes thought to get the words just right, and time and hindsight to cut out the unimportant, clunky or just plan bad bits. A good book doesn't happen overnight. Hell, even bad books -- really bad books -- don't happen overnight for most of us. And having that internal voice telling you that every word you manage to type is wrong can be crippling, paralyzing, and very disheartening. Partly that's because you know it's right. Sometimes the plot is ridiculous, or the characters are unlikeable, or your grammar does suck. But all of that can be fixed and that's the part we so often lose sight of. You can't edit what isn't on the page, though. You can't fix what isn't there in some form.
That's where NaNo comes in. With only 30 days to get those 50,000 words, you barely have time to eat, sleep, bathe and breathe, so there's not much left over for doubting yourself. Getting the words becomes the only consideration, and you've got a forum full of thousands of people rooting for you. People who will cheerfully tell you to stop thinking and starting writing, damn it!
So, while NaNo may not be for every writer, I highly encourage you to give it a try. Hell, the worst that can happen is that you won't write 50,000 words. How will that be different from most other months? :-D