(by Abigail Reynolds) It’s almost NaNoWriMo! NaNoWriMo is the (Inter)National Novel Writing Month, celebrated each year in November. Anyone who wants can join in the fun, even if you’ve never written anything before. The goal is to write 50,000 words of a novel between November 1-30. Yes, that’s about 1800 words a day, which is far more than most authors write, but that’s the point of it. It’s a chance for people who have never dared to write before to set a pen to paper, as well as for more practiced writers to give themselves a push and a challenge. For a good summary of what NaNoWriMo is about, check their website.
But why do NaNoWriMo instead of writing on my own schedule? Because it works. My worst enemy as a writer is myself. I write a sentence, then second-guess it. Did I show, not tell? Did I use an adverb where I shouldn’t? Is this phrase evocative enough? Then I erase the sentence and start again… and again and again. NaNoWriMo helps me avoid that trap. So what if I told instead of showed, or used an adverb or a speech tag? It’s words, and it counts towards that 1800 words a day! So what if it’s bad? So I keep what I wrote instead of erasing it. Then, in December, I go back and improve it. But I can’t improve and edit something I haven’t written in the first place, hence NaNoWriMo. It gets me through that first draft. Yes, it’s awful, but at least I have something to work from later.
Meantime, NaNoWriMo gives me a kick in the pants. I can’t decide not to write that day, because I know I’ll have to post online how many words I’ve done and all my writing buddies will see it. There’s no “I’m not in the mood” or “I don’t have time.” More importantly, there’s a certain energy that goes along with writing in the company of others. It’s inspirational.
In our Austen community, we have a variety of authors of all stripes – published, unpubbed, and ones who have never dared show a word of what they’ve written to anyone – who participate in JaAuNaNoWriMo. Yes, that’s Jane Austen NaNoWriMo. We also have complete newcomers to writing. The more, the merrier! If you’ve ever thought about writing, this is the time to give it a try. You’ll get lots of encouragement… without ever having to show anybody what you’ve written. No fear of criticism, no angst, just lots of fun, support, and writing. Who knows where that could lead?
So who is in and what are you planning to write? It doesn’t matter if it’s not Austen-related. I’m wavering between two stories, both Regency, one a variation and one a sequel. Sign up on the NaNoWriMo site – it’s free, and you get some cool stuff including a free copy of your story from CreateSpace. I love NaNoWriMo writing buddies! My username there is littorina if you want to be buddies.
Does anyone know if there’s already a JaAuNaNoWriMo group? If not, we could start a thread in the NaNoWriMo forums for Austen-related fiction. I’ll be posting follow ups here every week or two about how I’m doing, and I hope to hear from some of you as well!
Well, Abigail Reynolds convinced me. I have two projects. First, I wish to finish A Touch of Cashémere, the third book in my touch series. Secondly, I need to produce a short story for Ulysses Press’s new project entitled, The Road to Pemberley. If I can accomplish both by the end of November, I will have had a successful month. Come on. Join in. We all can go crazy together.