Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NaNoWriMo - National Novel Writing Month

This month I've been participating in NaNoWriMo. (Pronounced just as you see it.) It stands for National Novel Writing Month.

Every November NaNoWriMo.org challenges writers around the world to finish a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. On average writing that many words requires 1,667 words a day. If you type 40 words a minute you can complete the words in about 40 minutes. The hard part of the challenge is to have a readable novel afterward. Most don't. I didn't.

But since I spent the first week of November in China (in vacation mode) I decided to see if I could complete the words. I actually completed my 50,000 words before the end of November.

You Won!

So I won! What? What did I win? What? Tell me.

Absolutely nothing.

Well, not absolutely nothing. I received this little banner you see off to the side here. Not everyone got one. I have tried this challenge twice before and didn't get past 10,000 words. I never got one of these then. So this is a small victory.

Truth be told, the stuff I wrote is basically a stream of conscientiousness. Mostly drivel.

I had a story idea when I started. But soon into the story I hit a ditch, couldn't steer the story back on track, wondered aimlessly, and finally tumbled down the hill of despair. By then I had written about 15,000 words. I didn't want to be a quitter. So I kept writing.

It soon became just a matter of making it to the daily word count:  One thousand, one hundred, and sixty one words a day.

In retrospect

It's not hard really. Once I resolved not to care what words I was writing, I sort of relaxed and enjoyed wherever the words took me. All I had to do is keep my butt in the chair and press the computer keys, one stroke at a time. The letters eventually formed words that seemed to accumulate faster when I didn't bother to watch the status word count at the bottom of the screen.

Some days I even blew past the daily quota of 1,667 words. While "in the zone" one day I wrote 4,070 words. Four thousand and seventy words. Whoa.

Even if I couldn't think of anything to write, I'd write that I couldn't think of anything to write. I'd write: "I can't think of anything to write . . . except about the folks I met yesterday" and then I'd begin writing about the people and the events from the day before. Sometimes I wrote about the weather, or the plans for the day, or something I had read in a book. Often those writings became part of the blog at travel.daveterry.net. Sorry.

The point is, writing has a soothing effect. It relaxes. I could watch the sun come up and go down while writing and sipping coffee. Of course, once in a while I do need to get out and experience something so as to have an event to write about.

And I guess that's the real advantage to doing it daily. Writing, even if it's a few words a day, is therapeutic. It puts things in perspective.

Writing doesn't just communicate ideas; it generates them. - Paul Graham


wifeywilliams said...

I would stumble upon this on December 1st. So I guess I missed it. :( But you are so right. Writing is therapeutic. And I just need to DO it. Thanks for the inspiration...miss you guys! Jessica

dave terry said...

Rats. Put it on your calendar for next year. Or better yet go to the site and register. They'll send you an email when it gets closer.

Mr and Mrs C. said...

I've been doing the Nano for quite a few years and the winning for me is in the silly, outrageous friends Ive made .. we still meet once a month to critique, edit, and have a good laugh..
It's a fun thing, bring on the 50K and november!! and crongrad on completion.

daveterry said...

Thanks Mr and Mrs C. I might just do that crazy thing again this year. What's an hour a day? (That's about what it takes me if I don't think too hard.)

Let's go for it.