Friday, November 27, 2009

Dipping My Toes in the NaNoWriMo Waters

By now, most folks who have any connection with the fiction writing community have heard of National Novel Writing Month, which takes place in November. The goal of each participant in NaNoWriMo is to write a 50,000 word first draft of a fiction novel during November. Participants record their daily writing totals at the website and form support groups to keep each other moving toward that lofty goal. By now, I'm seeing some "NaNoWriMo Winner" logos popping up on Facebook pages of writing friends, meaning they've met their 50,000 word goal. Congratulations to all the winners and kudos for your hard work!

I've resisted participating in NaNoWriMo the past because, let's be honest here, I'm a slow writer. I follow an outline and write one scene at a time, at most, in each 2-3 hour session I spend at the computer when I'm working on a rough draft. I need time in between each session to let the two-sentence or so description of the next scene in my outline percolate in my mind until the characters involved are ready to start talking to each other. Sometimes I can fit two sessions in a day, but many days, only one. This kind of writing routine does not lend itself to producing high daily page counts.

To encourage writers like me in Southern Colorado to participate in the annual November fiction-writing frenzy, Pikes Peak Writers this year set up a NaNoTryMo program, where members are encouraged to set realistic goals on their current works-in-progress and provide mutual support in TRYING to reach those goals. I set a goal of adding 20,000 words to my Evil Eddies manuscript, the second Mandy Tanner river ranger mystery that will be published by Midnight Ink. I already had about 20,000 words written, and if I met my goal, I'd be about two thirds of the way through the rough draft. I tend to write a lean first draft and add more words, mostly description, scene setting, and narration, as I go back and edit.

I'm working with a small group of local writers I know, and we're reporting our page count progress to each other in emails, along with encouragement. I'm in awe of the progress my partners are making on their works. Two are approaching the actual 50,000 word NaNoWriMo goal, while I'm struggling, sitting at about 16,000 words added so far this month with three days to go. Yes, I've had a lot of distractions (this week I'm skiing in Breckenridge with my hubby, for instance), but I've got to admit the procrastination is all my fault. So, today I'm staying inside and off the slope and sitting at my computer. Hopefully my characters will cooperate and start arguing with each other so I can record their disagreements.

Please wish me luck, because I'm looking forward to attending PPW's NaNoTryMo celebration party on November 30th, and I'd sure like to be able to report that I met the modest goal I set for myself!


Keith Raffel said...

Go, Beth! 20K words in a month is terrific!

Cricket McRae said...

Nice job, Beth. I love the idea of NaNoTryMo!

Mike Dennis said...

Good luck, Beth. And don't commit yourself to any artificial goal if you feel it doesn't suit your style.

Lisa Bork said...

I'm all for realistic goal setting! Goals should be realistic, motivating and achievable--and never one size fits all.

Beth Groundwater said...

Thanks for the encouragement, folks! I'm holed up inside today, writing, after motivating myself by posting this blog to the world that I'm 4k words short of my goal. I'm approaching 2k words for today and am really on a roll. I love funeral scenes such as the one I'm writing, where folks whisper nasty things about the guy who died (or was murdered) while munching on cookies and sipping punch. :)

G.M. Malliet said...

20K is terrific!

I signed up for NaNoWriMo and that was as far as I got. As I write this, it is Nov. 30, so that ship has sailed.

It's official. I can only write in conditions of chaos.