Thursday, November 4, 2010

NaNoWriMo or How to Embrace Your Masochistic Side

What I'm reading right now: Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien 

There's not a lot for me say here, is there? I mean it's Lord of the ephing Rings: L-O-T-R. My writer friends will be relieved to see that I'm finally taking it on. I admit it--I've never read it. I've only seen the movies is parts. Before you go Orcian on my a** let me say that I'm a late comer to this genre. I've only read a scant number of Fantasy books and although I've come to enjoy it, it's not usually my first choice in pleasure reading. In fact, I feel a little like this is assigned reading. LOTR is referenced so often at writers' conferences and workshops you'd think it was required reading--not just for the conference but for life. I'm finally getting on board if for no other reason than I can say that I've read it. Perhaps it will become pleasure reading.

I hesitate to say that this is what I'm reading now. I have started it mind you, the question is how much I'll read in it this month--see below.


It's November and what does that mean? Thanksgiving, epic college football match-ups (Utah vs. TCU Nov. 6--GO UTES!) and National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo.

If you're unfamiliar with NaNo the object is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November, not a word prior to or after. The idea being to lock your inner-editor away for 30 days and allow yourself to simply create with no restrictions. Let the words fall where they may and grammar be damned!  

Back when I was a young writer, okay a younger writer, I decided to try it, just to see if I could do it. I knew very little about writing so I didn't know enough to be scared. That was Nov. 2006 and I did complete it. It is largely a pile of refuse however it did merit me one thing for which I will be forever grateful. On June 10th 2007 I found out about Orson Scott Card's Literary Bootcamp. He was holding it in Salt Lake City that year. The first two days are open to anyone, but after the second night only the 15 Bootcampers whose applications were accepted stayed for an additional four days.

This was a Monday and the application deadline was Friday. I had to have a sample of my work to submit and it had to be the beginning of a story. All I had was my NaNoWriMo story. With no time to come up with anything else, that's what I submitted and it got me in. I remember thinking I would just do the two days and not apply for the bootcamp then I realize all they could do was say "no" so I applied and wouldn't you know it, I got in.

That experience altered the course of my life in a way that I'm forever grateful. Perhaps I'll make that the topic of my next post. For this post however, it's NaNoWriMo.

After completeing it in 2006 I said I would never do it again, at least not blind. If I were to do it again, I'd go in with a plan, an outline. This year, one of my best friends was soliciting someone to do NaNo with her. She and I dragged each other through it back in 2006. I did not intend to, because again, I was blind. Slowly an idea germinated in my grey matter and I toyed with the possibility. I discussed the possibility a bit with my friend Margot (names have not been changed in order to applaud their awesomeness) and I succumbed to her writerly charms.

Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo, has created a novel writing kit for NaNo called: The No Plot? No Problem! Novel-Writing Kit. It is really well done with all sorts of tracking and rewards and motivations. From that kit I scanned the following. It really sums up the escence of NaNo:

If you'd like a blank one of your own, I'd be glad to send you a digital copy, just LMK.

NaNoWriMo 2006 Winner's Certificate

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