It’s very nearly that time of the year, ladies and gentlemen. No, not Christmas, although that has been sneaking up on me like a predator ready to pounce. I’m actually talking about National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo.
If you don’t know what NaNoWriMo is, at its core it is a challenge: a challenge to write (at least) 50,000 words in one month, starting November 1st and ending November 30th. The unwritten rules are that you start a brand new story on that first day and that by the end of it you aim to have a complete novel, even if it’s so bad it would take holy fire to properly edit and revise it and make it readable. The reality is that lots of people also write multiple short stories, or continue on with stories they’ve already been working on; some people even write things like autobiographies, scripts, or collections of poems. There are really no hard-and-fast rules, other than the goal: write 50,000 words in 30 days.
I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo every year since I first discovered it, even the years during which I knew I had little to no chance of completing the task, and it’s been worth it every time.
This is the year I first stumbled across a blogger talking about NaNoWriMo. I looked into it, found the website, and immediately fell in love with the idea. Even though I was almost late to the game (it was late October when I found out about it) I decided that I just had to take part. I’d been thinking about playing my hand at writing a zombie story, so that’s what I did, and the first draft of “Nowhere to Hide” was born. That year was my first NaNoWriMo win, with approximately 50,700 words. I came in right under the wire, and although my story was a bit messy and uncoordinated I was very proud because it was the first time I’d ever written a full-length novel start-to-finish. It was my first ever completed manuscript.
After the fun I’d had the previous year of course I was going to try NaNoWriMo out again! This time I decided to go for something completely different from what I’m used to: sci-fi. The story was “Erased”, and it featured a cast of strange characters who find themselves abandoned in what appears to be a medical facility on a planet with two moons. I had fun in the beginning, but around the middle of NaNo I was beginning to wear, with no idea of where the story was going and a lack of faith in myself to properly write a technologically-advanced world. Eventually I wound up cheating by putting “Erased” aside and writing new scenes for other stories I was working on. Though I technically rebelled against the “rules”, I did still manage to write 57,300 words that year, so I still call it a win!
My third NaNo was my first loss in the challenge, which is funny since what I was actually doing was a rewrite of a story I’d been writing on and off for years, “Parallels”. The fact that I already had a great deal of the story ingrained into my brain didn’t help; I was simply too busy that year and didn’t have enough motivation. Still, I enjoyed taking part in the challenge and managed to write about 37,200 words that month.
On the fourth year I tried something different yet again. While I’d already taken a shot at horror, this would be my first time writing about vampires. I wanted to write something fun that was aimed at teens and young adults, but that was actually frightening. “Bloodlust” was the story of a girl and her friends seeking out vampires because the world’s literature had lead them to believe that they were wonderful creatures, when in fact they are the monsters people once took them to be. I had high-hopes for this story, but it never really worked out in my head and I ended up abandoning it, though not before I won another NaNo with just over 50,100 words.
Last year I didn’t have a whole lot of hope for my chances with NaNo, but I wanted to take part anyway because hey, I didn’t want to break the streak! It was my fifth year and I had a plan. I’d still been writing “Parallels” on and off throughout the years, but I’d recently decided that the story would make a much better mini-series…say, three-to-four shorter books instead of one insufferably long one. So for NaNo ’14 I decided to write that first book: “The Other World: Book One”. I ended up experiencing my worst NaNo failure yet with only about 31,900 words, but it was a huge start toward that first book (which I’m now in the process of revising) and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!
So that leads us back here, to the impending NaNo 2015. I’m excited to participate again, although I know there’s a fair chance that it will be another loss to add to the board, because even when things don’t go my way I still gain something out of NaNo. It’s always my most productive writing month of the year, and I feel that has a lot to do with the community and the fun atmosphere that the challenge provides. It’s not just buckling down and forcing yourself to write…it’s almost a sort of game that you’re playing with thousands of people all over the world.
This year I’m trying something way out in left-field from what I’ve done previously. I’m going to be “cheating” by writing a number of shorter stories, and they’re all going to be of the erotic variety. I’ve been toying with the idea of trying my hand at the genre for a while, and I figured what better time than NaNo, when you’re forced to write quickly and without thinking too hard or looking back? If absolutely nothing else I should get a good laugh out of the whole thing, especially since I’ve decided to base my little erotica series on fairy tales (the #1 rule of erotica, apparently, is to find a kink – or theme – and stick to it, and I figured this was something I know enough about to be able to handle).
As it has been for the past few years, this NaNo will not be an easy go for me (not that it ever is). I have a few days at home during the first week of the challenge, but then I travel out West and am tortured with 12-hour work days for 14 days straight before returning home again. For this reason I’ve decided to take a bit of a break from my blog during November so that I can focus my writing exclusively on the challenge. I’ll still write something for “Insecure Writer’s Support Group” day, and I’ll still whip up the “unboxing and review” posts for the subscription boxes I have waiting for me at home as we speak, but that will be it. I’ve been meaning to take a break from the blog for a while, so I figure this is definitely the right time, don’t you think? I’ll mention this again once or twice so no one thinks I’ve disappeared or anything. 🙂
So, I guess that’s it! I’m anxiously awaiting the beginning of the challenge and curious to know how I’m going to make out this year. Is anyone else taking the plunge into NaNo-World this year? What are you writing about? What are you planning to do with your novel after you write it? Want to be writing buddies? My username is Toreshi! Hope to see you there! ❤