Monday, November 2, 2009

A Guide to the Noveling Month Ahead

A few days ago, I received this wonderful e-mail from Chris at NaNoWriMo regarding this month's goal of writing 50,000 words of fiction. (For details, click on the preceding hyperlink.)

October 31: Get your first pep talk email. You'll receive about three of these a week; one from NaNo staff and two from our panel of esteemed celebrity pep talkers. Spam filters love to eat pep talks, so if you don't get yours, just drop by the pep talk page (under Fun Stuff) where they'll be posted as soon as they go out. Our first guest pep talker will be Jasper Fforde; he'll be parachuting into your inbox next Wednesday. [Note: I adore Jasper Fforde! If you haven't read The Eyre Affair and his other novels, get thee immediately to Amazon or your local library. This minute. I'm not kidding.]

November 1: At midnight, local time, start writing your book. You need to log 1,667 words per day to stay on par. The website will be very slow for the first few days of the event, but with patience you can update your soaring word count in that box at the top of our site. Watch your stats graph fill. Send a link to your author profile to your friends so they can follow your progress. Revel in the majesty of your unfolding story. It's November 1! You are an unstoppable novel-writing machine!

November 2: Stop writing. Wonder if you should start over. Keep going. Feel better.

November 8: As the first full week of writing comes to a close, you will be at 11,666 words. This is more fiction than most people write in their lifetimes, and you did it in a week. Go, you! This is also Municipal Liaison Appreciation Day, a raucous international holiday that celebrates NaNoWriMo's volunteer chapter-heads (the folks who organized the write-in you went to last week). Chocolate, flowers, and gifts of expensive electronics are appreciated.

November 13: Nothing really happens on November 13.

November 15: After the second week of writing, you will be at 25,000 words. This is the approximate length of such legendary works of fiction as The Metamorphosis, Of Mice and Men, and Twilight: The Complete Illustrated Movie Companion. You're halfway to winning! Attend a Midway Party in your town.

November 16: The second half of NaNoWriMo dawns. Writerly confidence builds. Your book comes to life, and characters start doing interesting, unexpected things. Nice. Weird.

November 22: After the third full week of writing, you stand at 35,000 words, the NaNoWriMo milestone universally recognized as The Place Where Everything Gets Much Easier. This is also when you fly out to San Francisco and join us for the Night of Writing Dangerously Write-a-thon, where you'll help us set records for group noveling and candy consumption.

November 25: Novel validation and winning begins, and Word-Count Progress Bars turn from blue (under 50K) to green (over 50K) to purple (over 50k and a verified winner!). Check our FAQs for details on uploading your manuscript and winning. A limited number of 2009 Winner T-shirts will appear in the store. These will make you smile, and will feature a squirrel.

November 26: American Wrimos celebrate the true meaning of Thanksgiving by gathering together with friends and family, wolfing down a huge meal as quickly as possible, and then ditching those friends and family to hide in the bathroom with a laptop.

November 30: By midnight, local time, we will all be the proud owners of 50,000-word novels that we barely could have imagined on October 31. Plan to attend your local NaNoWriMo Thank God It's Over Party, where grins will abound, champagne will flow, fives will be highed, and wrists will be iced.

You did it. We all did it.

December 1: Sleep will fall heavily across NaNoLand, as 150,000 writers close the book on a crazy, oversized dream.

December 2: The "I Wrote A Novel, Now What?" page goes up on the NaNoWriMo site, containing some special items for our winners from sponsors CreateSpace and Scrivener, along with advice on revision and next steps from published NaNoWriMo authors.

December 3: Rewrites begin.

It all starts very soon, brave writer! Here's to a great month together!

It's not too late, NaNoWriMo-wanna-be's! Last year I started on November 4 and still finished two days early, so it can be done. Just go to NaNoWriMo and sign up. If you do, be sure to "buddy" me at SusanneB.

Today I plan to finish reading what I wrote last year and start writing Tuesday. I still have a ton of grading for both Brave Writer and Class Day courses hanging over my head, but I have resolved to get up earlier each morning (the change to Standard Time helps) and work for at least an hour before breakfast on my 2000 words/day. I found last year that writing 2000 words is MUCH easier to keep up with than trying to write 1667 words each day. And I'd rather have the five days off for things like Thanksgiving and to read what I wrote last year, jotting down characters' names since I haven't even looked at last year's novel for eleven months and have only a vague idea of what I wrote since I went for the "stream of consciousness" mode last year.

I'm thrilled that one person from our local writing group (who can't decide whether to laud me or shoot me) and one of my teenage writing students from our homeschool co-op Class Days joining the challenge and "buddying" me. And I have at least two online writer friends who are doing it this year, too. Last year Katharine at 10 Minute Writer and I egged each other onward to the finish line, and it was a great deal of fun and a wonderful way to stay encouraged and focused; I'm gonna miss her this year!

So write bravely, my fellow NaNites! And the rest of you: cheer us onto the finish line!

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