Thursday, November 1, 2012

Literary abandon

Tappety tappety tappety tappety tappety tappety tappety...

Clickty clickety clickety clickety clickety clickety...

The sound you hear is the sound of keyboards clattering all over the planet as hundreds of thousands of people launch themselves into their version of The Great American Novel.

Yes, today is the official Opening Day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short), "thirty days and nights of literary abandon."

NaNoWriMo is this hare-brained scheme of writing a 50,000 word novel in one month (which amounts to 1667 words per day). The idea is not to let trivial issues like plot, character development, or talent slow you down -- you just write. And write and write. Let plot and character development and even talent take care of themselves.

As any writer knows, the best way to learn to write is to actually write. A surprising number of aspiring writers don't understand this. You can take endless classes and read endless books on the subject, but the best way to hone one's writing skills just to pound the keyboard and keep pounding that keyboard until you start learning what works and what doesn't.

The advantage of participating in NaNoWriMo is it encourages all participants to leave their nasty and overly-critical "inner editor" locked away in a box so it can't disturb the free-flow of words that come from our fingertips.

It's a crazy concept, but rather surprisingly it works. I've done NaNoWriMo a few times, including last year. Also last year, to my surprise, I learned that Younger Daughter was shadowing me and doing her own writing project (though not officially signed up with NaNoWriMo). By the end of the month, she'd written 30,000 words -- and she was ashamed that she hadn't made it to 50,000! But how many thirteen-year-olds, I asked her, have ever written anywhere near 30,000 words, much less in one month?

Nonetheless she wanted to prove herself, so earlier this year she did her own private NaNoWriMo and completed 50,000 words in thirty days. Wow.

NaNoWriMo has a Young Writer's Program available, in which young people under age 17 can set their own word-count goals. But Younger Daughter didn't want to participate in this -- instead, she registered as an adult this year and is challenging herself to write the full 50,000 words. More power to her!

NoNoWriMo takes place in November to "take advantage of the miserable weather." (I might point out that when it was created, the founder was a single guy who never had to plan or cook Thanksgiving dinner, much less homeschool, batten down a farm for winter, or take care of kids. But I digress.)

So this morning Younger Daughter and I made sure we got our word count in. We'll see how our novels unfold and progress throughout the coming months.

Who else is participating?


  1. I will do this next year!
    I have my blog I've been doing for a couple of years and my writing has improved a lot! What's funny is when I started the blog I struggled getting out 300 words and now 1000 words is very easy to write.I sometimes stuggle to stay at 1000 words per post.
    If you want to write like Nike says "Just do it!"

  2. My 13 y.o. daughter and I are also doing NaNoWriMo. I got 1732 words today and she got to 1200. This is her first year registering as an adult. The inner editor thing is hard - very hard! :D

  3. I know people who do this every year, but I am not one of them.
    Good luck to you and your daughter!

  4. I'm in. I agree with myadventures as well. Writing a blog semi-regularly really gets you comfortable with the idea of writing more words every day.

  5. Did you ever finish last years story?
    Are you going to publish it?

  6. I am participating. At over 2000 words for the first day...haven't had time to do any yet today. As you know, the livestock come first.

  7. I remember when you did this last year...That means I've been reading your blog for over a year!! I must really like it here. :)

  8. More and more of my friends are doing this, and I'm a day late, but I just did 1629 in an hour. I'll catch up tomorrow. I'm mostly just cracking the brain open and dumping it into notepad and seeing what is there. I started out in a sweater store and now it is taking a scifi twist. How odd.


  9. Ye know, I'm a writer at heart. Always have been. It is my first great love, and what has gotten me through some otherwise miserable times. Interestingly enough, some of my best writing has happened during the worst times of my life. (Funny how that all works. Great joy or great misery are wonderful motivators.)

    My favorite genre is 'high-fantasy' in the vein of J.R.R. Tolkien, R.A. Salvatore, Michael Moorcock, etc.

    Was I not so busy living off the land and prepping for what is going to be a very nasty winter here, I'd love nothing more than to just write for a month solid. :)

    (There is also this whole 'registered' thing, and being on someone else's schedule.)

    Though I do think it's a lovely idea, and I wish the best to all who are participating in it. I'll get my 1667 words per day in writing posts to my three blogs. ;)

    I figure I can help people better that way at the moment than writing a fictional book about prepping ala Rawles right now. ;)

    All the best!


  10. I absolutely love this! Hope I get a chance to read it!