This time last year, I hadn’t heard of it.
I was introduced to the idea of Nanowrimo by my friend Sarah. Being a very astute and observant lady, Sarah had noticed that although I love to write, my writing plans are often thwarted by a fairly pronounced tendency to procrastinate.
My writing-procrastination cycle goes something like this:
1- Have idea for story.
2 – Decide to write detailed plot outline for said story (can’t begin writing without full plot, otherwise madness will ensue).
3 - Decide is more important to first have detailed life histories drawn up for all characters in book.
4 – Veer off into random daydreams in which I become bestselling author. Decide to use money from bestselling books to buy rambling, rundown farmhouse in beautiful countryside idyll.
5- Wonder how best to approach renovation project on rambling farmhouse.
6 – Argue with boyfriend over décor ideas for (non-existent) farmhouse that has been bought with (non-existent) money from (non-existent) bestselling books.
7 – Boyfriend suggests may be best to start by actually writing book.
8 – Write 1000 words.
9 – Stop writing as am distracted by: work/ yoga class/ work/ going for a run/ work/ catching up with the girls/ work /going out with the boy/ work/ phone calls from my mother…etc…
10 – Decide problem was idea for story. Clearly not engaging enough otherwise would not have procrastinated in such a fashion.
11 – Have another idea for story.
So, with this in mind, Sarah’s suggestion that I give Nanowrimo a go was perfectly timed.
Nanwrimo = NationalNovelWritingMonth.
It happens every November and the aim is to write the (very!) rough draft of a novel in 30 days. Nanowrimo sets 50,000 words as the goal. For all things Nano-related see http://www.nanowrimo.org/en.
Last November I signed up, logged in and decided to see if I could write 1666 words per day. And here’s the interesting thing – I could. All that time I thought I didn’t have, suddenly materialized. I was carving out pockets of writing time here, there and everywhere. 15 minutes in the morning before leaving for work. 20 minutes on my lunchbreak. 30 minutes while dinner was in the oven.
I suppose I really shouldn’t have been surprised that having a specific writing goal in mind for each day worked so well for me. I’ve always been that way – working best when I’m working towards something specific. At the moment, for example, I’m really struggling to find the motivation to run as I’m not really training for anything. When I was training for my 10k earlier this year, or for the relay race a few weeks ago, it wasn’t hard to motivate myself to get out there and train, but with no new race to work towards, I’m finding it all too easy to talk myself out of lacing up my trainers.
Nanowrimo also tapped into my fairly strong competitive streak. There’s a lively Nano community and most participants log their daily word counts online so it’s very easy to see how you’re doing in comparison to everyone else. Do I really want to be the person who is only logging 100 words per day while everyone else is hurtling towards the 50,000 mark? Definitely not.
Of course, Nano isn’t for everyone and there are arguments to suggest that maybe it’s not even a very good idea at all. After all, what sort of material is going to come out of a period of enforced creativity? It’s a fair point and indeed, I’ve read stories about editors complaining about the amount of appalling draft manuscripts they receive post-Nano as aspiring writers send their work to publishing houses as soon as they type that 50,0000th word.
But it worked for me and I think it’s a good idea for people, like me, who have plenty of book ideas floating around but struggle to find the time to get anything down on paper.
Unfortunately, Nano beat me last year. I was going well and had even hit the half-way mark when the combination of a break-up and a house move knocked me for six and my daily writing targets were abandoned.
And now it’s almost Nano time again. I’m signed up. I’m ready to go. And this year, I’m getting all the way to 50,000 words.
Plus, I have a really good idea for a story.