For the past four years, I’ve taken part in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for those in the know. For those not familiar with NaNoWriMo, it’s a celebration of writing with a challenge for all those who wish to participate: write a short novel (50,000 words) in the month of November.
For aspiring writers, NaNoWriMo is a great motivational tool, especially if you’re having trouble focusing on writing consistently. It doesn’t cost anything, and there’s a large community to help keep you motivated (if you need that sort of thing). If you come at it with an open mind, you may just find the whole process of putting words on the screen without over-analyzing them to be liberating.
The first time I attempted NaNoWriMo, I was writing only sporadically. I thought the 50,000 words in a month challenge would be an interesting way to motivate me to write more often, so I tried it. And I did it. I didn’t write a complete novel, but I did write over 53,000 words that month. I found the exercise exhilarating, and I carried that writing-high into the next calendar year. To this date, I write consistently—almost every day—and I credit that first NaNoWriMo event for it.
I’ve since participated and finished NaNoWriMo three more times. The second time I didn’t write a novel; instead I wrote several short stories that totaled over 51,000 words. Three of those stories have been sold, including, “Requiem for Shiva,” “The Last Horse,” and “The Beauty of Wynona,” which appeared this month’s issue of Lacuna. Over the last two NaNoWriMo, I wrote the novel I’m supposed to be revising as part of my writing goals for 2012 (yeah, I know I behind on that goal).
For this year’s NaNoWriMo, I’ve decided to start another novel, this one set in the same world as my forthcoming story “Dreams in Dust” (December issue of Lightspeed Magazine). I’m concerned, however, that this year I’m not going to be able to finish. For the past three months, my day job has been crazy, and I recently picked up some extra work on the side, so now I’m working one-and-half jobs. That hasn’t left much time for writing. While I’ve manage to keep working (primarily editing some story drafts), I haven’t written a consistent chunk of new fiction in several weeks. Regardless, I’m going to give this year’s NaNoWriMo a shot and see what happens. Maybe I’ll be able to find a new groove, or I’ll pop a hole in the space-time continuum and find some extra hours everyday in which to get everything done. What? It could happen….