I haven’t even gotten a chance to blog about this, what with the chaos of moving to Seattle, but it’s November again, which means we’re in the midst of National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo. The goal is simple: write 50,000 words during the month of November, which should hopefully form the first draft of a novel.
Of course, there’s no requirement that it be a good first draft. In fact, December has come to be known as NaNoEdMo (National Novel Editing Month), when writers attempt to fashion something reasonable from the chicken scratch they wrote during November. When I did NaNoWriMo last year, I found it exceptionally liberating to turn off my internal editor and just write— I wrote a longer story than I ever had before. And lo and behold, when the dust had settled, I found that a good chunk of what I had written was actually not bad.
However, the novel was far from complete, even at 60,000 words. To make matters worse, after November was over, my internal editor turned back on and progress stalled. Then I got distracted by various short stories, and of course by the whole moving thing, so over the past 11 months, I’ve only added about 7,000 words to the novel. I’ve done a great deal of editing of parts I had already written, but editing will not finish your book for you… you have to actually write it first.
So this year, I had a dilemma. Did I want to start a new novel, with new characters, new concept, new plot? Or continue the old one? The “rules” of NaNoWriMo state that you have to start something new, but then again, rules are made to be broken, particularly when the real purpose of NaNoWriMo is simply to get you writing.
In the end, I compromised. I didn’t want to start a new story (the ending of the current one is still very much stuck in my head), but nor did I want to try and pick up where I had been stalled for eleven months. So I collected all the finished scenes from my novel, set them aside, and called it the first book in the series. Now, for this NaNoWriMo, I’m writing the second book. I even started from a totally blank document. In December, during NaNoEdMo, if the two books happened to get combined into one, well, heck, that’s just an editing decision, right? *wink*
It’s actually been quite liberating to do this. The main characters of the
book series are two sisters, and whereas last year’s writings focused almost entirely on the first sister, this year’s writing is starting off from the perspective of the second sister, and then will lead into what happens when the two are reunited. So far things are going well: I’m at 7500 words, well ahead of schedule. In fact, I’ve written more on the book series in the past two days than in the previous eleven months.
NaNoWriMo is a benefit in other ways, too, besides just the writing: it’s also helping me settle in to Seattle. I’m attending writing groups and write-ins around the city, which not only introduces me to new people, it also helps me learn my way around the area. NaNoWriMo multitasking for the win!