NaNo Comes But Once A Year

And so does that headline. Ten years ago, plus a few days, I joined the NaNoWriMo site, and so began a somewhat dysfunctional love affair. I was 14 years old, which is a bit young, really. I didn’t win until I was eighteen, then won again the year after, then blobbed twice before I started winning again. Now I’m preparing for my 11th attempt, and my second as an ML.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short, is, despite its name, an international community writing challenge. The task, should you choose to accept it, is to start a new piece of work on the 1st of November, and write 50,000 words on it by the end of the month. That works out at 1,667 words per day. There’s no prizes save the bragging rights, no point save the fun. You spend 30 days turning caffeine into novel, with the odd idea that writing can be a fun hobby, rather than a form of torture.

Actually, NaNo frequently feels like a form of torture, but it is writing as a hobby in its purest form. Writing is believed to be a solitary occupation, an exercise in sitting down and bleeding (thank you, Hemmingway). But if Hemmingway was a marathon runner, an elite athlete at the top of his game who seized trophies and accolades, then NaNo participants are fun runners in chicken costumes. You train and prepare, you look forwards to it, and then you find yourself running between Elvis and a fairy. You pass each other water and sweets for energy, encourage each other through the wall, pick each other up when you fall, and cross the line without grace, without elegance, but with each other. You made it. It wasn’t pretty, but you made it.

As a Municipal Liaison, my job now is to be a marshal. I’m on the forums watching for naughty language and questions in need of answering, I encourage people to keep going when finishing seems impossible, I organise writing events so that we can get together and remind ourselves that we’re not alone and get away from our characters, and I provide helpful and useful advice on all matters novel writing.

So for the next two weeks, I’m going to be doing a check list of the things I do to prepare myself for NaNo. Hopefully it’ll be useful to a few people, in and out of my region. I’m in Yorkshire, by the way, so if you’re in Yorkshire too you’re my little duckling. Come along, and I will pour in tea, which you can then turn into a brilliant Crappy First Draft (check out Ninie Hammon’s advice on that one, and then come to the Yorkshire forums here).

Coming stages:
1. Collect your kit
2. Find your space
3. Set the music mood
4. Find your story
5. Meet your protagonist
6. Meet your nemesis
7. Plan your assault
8. Enjoy the fresh air whilst you can
9. Warn your family
10. Keep the wheels of noveling turning
11. Seek your leader
12. Form a fellowship
13. Do your revision
14. And in the end, wing it.

3 thoughts on “NaNo Comes But Once A Year

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