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One Day I am Going to Write a Novel

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One day I am going to write a novel! That is me! I have said this so many times.

What has stopped me? A Couple of Excuses:

1) “I need to take a 3 month hiatus from work to start my novel”
2) “I have No Plot!”
3) “I have No Time!”
4) “I want it to be perfect”

Well I found the perfect solution and it starts in two days.
The National Novel Writing Month known as NaNoWriMo to regulars.

So What is NaNoWriMo?

National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.

Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over talent and craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.

Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.

Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.

As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and — when the thing is done — the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.

In 2003, we had about 25,000 participants. Over 3500 of them crossed the 50k finish line by the midnight deadline, entering into the annals of NaNoWriMo superstardom forever. They started the month as auto mechanics, out-of-work actors, and middle school English teachers. They walked away novelists.

So, to recap:

What: Writing one 50,000-word novel from scratch in a month’s time.

Who: You! We can’t do this unless we have some other people trying it as well. Let’s write laughably awful yet lengthy prose together.

Why: The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from your novel at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.

When: Sign-ups began October 1, 2004. Writing begins November 1. To be added to the official list of winners, you must reach the 50,000-word mark by November 30 at midnight. Once your novel has been verified by our web-based team of robotic word counters, the partying begins.

As Chris Baty states in his book, “No Plot? No Problem!”, The mystery machine to writing a novel is a Deadline. So I am doing it! I am going to write a novel in 30 days. I am also going to
blog excerpts from my novel with many others.

One day I am going to write a novel!! That day starts in two days. And you can watch the progress!!

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About Doug Moore

  • Congrats! I did it last year & finished- it was a great experience! I’m still none too sure if I’m doing it [or finishing] this year…but I’m leaning that way. My working title is Psychopomp.

    Helpful hints:
    Avoid contractions! No “Don’t” if you can write “Do not”. It adds up!

    Dialogue is great way for *me* to write. I can get 1000 words of exposition out of it, which would normally only go on for 300 words. Additionally, its more entertaining to read.

    Do a forward, an intro, a disclaimer and use long titles.

    No editing!!!! There’s a NaNoEdMo for that.

    Use the WIRMI system. In this, when you can’t think of what to write [names, etc.] use WIRMI- What I Really Mean Is. Then describe whatever you need to [adding to word counts, of course]. This way, when you finally get to editing, you can just use the search function to find the areas you need to clean up.

    Go to the parties and get your swag!

    Do you know what you’re going to write about?

  • Thanks for all the tips! Still working on title or subject. Thinking about writing about a Roadtrip across the US!

  • Eric Olsen

    very nice Doug, thanks! I think this plagues the recesses of every wrier’s mind – I have one that is a series of vignettes that have to be given a framework. Some day!

  • Doug – I am just checking in with a fellow 2004 NaNoWriMo — you can do it, Doug! Hope you get that wordcounter rolling again. Your blog shows the last update on Thursday. Keep it rocking!

    You can do it! 🙂

  • I’ve been pondering different opinions of NaNoWriMo. Some people think it’s a great way to help aspiring writers get over their procrastination. Others sharply criticize the whole concept, some of them with a revealing tone of vicious bitterness.

    Most objections to the exercise seem to be variations on the same theme: that anything written in such haste is sure to be a textbook example of terribly bad writing. From such a beginning, critics extrapolate, writers can only continue to produce more bad writing. And the last thing the world needs is more bad writing.

    Critics don’t always bother to state that last part. Some just assume everyone will agree with it as an unspoken premise. From there, the conclusion is obvious: NaNoWriMo is bad. Very bad.

    Now, I don’t necessarily agree that bad writing is such a bad thing. There are far worse things people could do with their free time than produce bad writing, and it’s not like they’re forcing anyone else to read it. But let’s leave that aside for the moment. Instead let’s look at a far more scary implication of National Novel Writing Month. What if it doesn’t exclusively fill the world with more bad writing? What if it also leads, one way or another, to good writing? What if it ends up creating dozens, hundreds, even thousands of new truly great novelists?

    At first thought, any lover of literature would want to like this idea. But its implications can be overwhelming. There already isn’t enough time in a single lifespan to read all the great literature we currently have. Many of us haven’t even finished reading Shakespeare yet, and have barely touched upon the works of Austen, Dante, Sophocles, Plath, Dickens, Woolf, or the rest of the vast library the world has already produced. What on earth are we going to do if the world is suddenly flooded with new material, from an army of new great writers, raised up in part by the inspiration of exercises like NaNoWriMo? Who could claim the mantle of “cultural literacy” in a world so vastly rich in great literary works?

    I suspect this fear, whether consciously realized or not, may explain much of the vitriol in some of those who attack National Novel Writing Month.

    As for myself, I have not yet decided on the merits of the concept. It seems worth trying, but I refrain from passing judgement until I have actually tried it for myself and can speak from experience.

  • I don’t really understand why someone would be against the idea of writing a novel in 30 days. Are those of us who choose to to partake in this activity some how taking all the writing karma of others. It is an excercise in creativity. Relax it is suppose to be fun. So get over worrying rather people should be doing it or not. At least they aren’t watching mindless draining television.

  • Doug, some do nothing but worry over what others should do.

    I’d hoped my comment at least made it clear I wasn’t trying to tell anyone else what they should do, even if it may have been a bit murky on some of its other points.