Nano say what?

Ahoy there Seabiscuit,

Today we be talking about National Novel Writing Month

Ne’er was there a writing process topic more loaded with opinions.  Tis like a beast with a million bung holes, I tell ye and I done see with me own two eyes.

In all seriousness, November is coming.  The Jack O Lanterns are looking a little droopy and I have noticed a distinct and painful lack of turkeytainium in my diet.  That means that scads of wordsmiths of all skill levels are out preparing for the herculean task of gorfing out fifty thousand words in a month.

Not to be out done, the armies of nay-sayers and fanatical supporters are gearing up for the yearly war of words over the war with words. There are a lot of opinions out there about Nanowrimo and I have a few myself.  Since this is my blog I shall air them now and be so good as to allow you, my beautiful and well dressed readers come beat them like a rug.

I started my first novel at David Wolverton’s, “Nanowrimo Deathcamp.”  The idea being is if you lock yourself away with other writers for a week in a hotel in Saint George Utah with the support of pro, you will get a good start on Nanowrimo.

I joined in the Monday of the event, a few days late for the start.  From Monday to getting home Sunday I drafted 37k words.  Yes, that many words.  It includes my personal best of 14k words in one 7 hour sitting.

I would have never gotten started without that kick-start.  I came home and wrote like mad and you know what?  I quite carrying about Nanowrimo and I started caring about the story.  Did I make the goal?  I don’t know.  I am certain I did, but the reality is that the goal did not matter.  The prize is not getting to 50k words.  The prize was learning to let go and write and I won.

So I owe a debt of gratitude to  Nano in the sense that the concept behind the competition is a fantastic way to get going if you need an artificial goal.  So before I move on to my own comments, let’s get this out-of-the-way.

If you are thinking you might like to write a novel and are considering Nano, GO FOR IT.

Now that I have gotten that out-of-the-way, lets talk about some concepts I have about Nano.

Lets call this section

Goal: professional writer

I consider it a personal goal to see my name in print and to put my words in the collective consciousness.  It matters to me.  If it can be done, I am going to do it. It is what I have wanted since I was in college.

If you share this goal but have not yet acted on it and are considering Nano, let me offer some thoughts.

1.  Stop and go read Chuck Wendig

Assuming you read Chuck and did not run screaming from the room, (He is kind of like a hillbilly Cthulhu and does that to people sometimes) lets move on.

2. Nanowrimo is a process.  As a process it is only as good as you the processor.  If you wanted to use it to say, “Dear Diary, This month I wrote a novel and I am going to check that off my bucket list.  I am done with that writing shit.  It is hard.”  That is awesome.  If you use it to start a novel and you get to 50k words and like me realize you’re still 70k away from the end of your story and you KEEP WRITING.  That is also awesome.  Process.  If you get to 50k words, you do not have a Novel, except is the most conceptual sense.  What you have is the ability to draft a near novel length story.  You are not done if you want to be a professional, but you have made a great start.

Now lets say you kept going. You are someone who is now published or has been writing and very close to published. You have been doing this for a few years and now you are a little beyond the lessons of Nano.

3.  It is important to remember everyone does this stuff for different reasons. Yes, it is easy, perhaps even fun to make fun of all of those bright-eyed folks traipsing into the emotional mine-field that is writing and about to get a foot blown off.  It is also being a dick.  I won’t claim I am perfect.  I have a long history of lowering myself to dickery and while it is entertaining, it is not productive.  There is really nothing gained by pissing on people who are trying out Nano to see what they think about this, our 250-year-old art form of the novel.  There is room in every trade for hobbyists, apprentices, journey and masters.

So what have we learned here today?  I like to sum it up as:

Write. Make it better. Keep writing. Submit your work to paying markets. Don’t be a dick.

In brotherhood and nanner-puddin’,

-Seamus

This entry was posted in Autumn, Nano OH NO, Navel Gazing, Writing, Writing Process. Bookmark the permalink.

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