Tuesday, December 04, 2007


National Novel Writing Month is over.

You know, that's the U.S.-based competition where all you have to do is to write 50,000 words to 'win.' All the winner gets is the right to post the kind of logo you see on the left on his website or blog, like I'm doing right now.

Those 50,000 words don't even have to be a coherent story, and noone will find it on the Internet to read. Those were the main drawbacks when I considered competing more than a month ago.

In the end, I decided to go for it, and I started a novel, on November 1 precisely. After a while, it became great fun. Since unlike many other competitors, I don't have a fulltime job and I don't have children to take care of, I had lots of time to sit behind my laptop and write, write, write. At the end of the day, I would go to the NaNoWriMo website to get an official count on my new words total. This showed that each day, I was adding somewhere between 2,500 and 4,000 words to the story.

The thing to do to advance to that 50,000 goal is not to look back, to refrain from editing and changing earlier chapters, and just continue forging ahead, damn the torpedoes. Of course I didn't want to write nonsense, and just reach 50,000 because that's the only rule. I wrote a relatively coherent thriller, a readable story.

I reached 50,000 on November 22, but instead of dropping everything, just like anyone might have done who only cared about getting a logo, I continued the story until the end, and I just managed to end it on the final day of the competition, November 30, reaching just over 70,000 words.

Is that a novel? Yes, because it is a long story. Is that a publishable novel? No, because books these days have to be around 100,000 words long. So what now? The obvious reply is to go back and remove the incoherent bits, the dangling story lines, the characters that appear but don't reappear, add details about technical processes and descriptions of the environment, make it logical.

The main thing I learned from NaNoWriMo is that I can write 70,000 words in one month if I maintain a certain rhythm, 2,000 to 4,000 words a day, while still taking the weekends off. If I continue this positive habit, I can really write publishable novels in two months, then do the necessary editing and work on second and third drafts before sending it off to publishers.

So, while many outsiders might reject NaNoWriMo as a competition about nothing with no use at all, I see it as a stepping stone to better writing habits. And yes, I hope to be back next year, in November, for my second NaNoWriMo.

For information about National Novel Writing Month and their other activities, visit www.nanowrimo.org.


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home