November is NaNoWriMo month. This is the first year I’ll be participating. What is NaNoWriMo you ask? Well I’m glad you asked. NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place every November. The goal is to write an entire novel (50,000 words) in one month. You can outline, plan, do whatever you want in the month’s prior, but you can’t start writing the actual thing until November 1st. You have to put your pens (or laptops) down at the end of the day on November 30th. Everyone who reaches the 50,000-word goal is a “winner” of NaNoWriMo.
This might sound cheesy to non-writers, but this amount of writing is no simple task. Add to that the fact that many people, like me, are doing this in addition to their normal daily work and writing, and it’s a huge feat to accomplish. I’ve struggled to consistently reach 1,000 words a day for at least five days a week for the last couple of months. Doing this will be a huge leap in the amount I write each day.
The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that the goal is to write, write, write. You have to go as fast as possible with no looking back if you want to get everything on paper in such a short amount of time. You can go back, edit, and make things look pretty after the fact, which is actually the way I prefer to work anyway. This is why I’m so excited to participate and give it a try. I really want to get in the habit of getting more on paper and spitting out everything that’s in my head. Let me tell you, it’s a lot more satisfying to see a bunch of crap written out then to see all kind of potential float around in my head while I beat myself up for not sitting down and writing. That’s my goal – write more and the rest will come naturally.
I wasn’t exactly sure what I was going to write about. Keeping with the habits I’m trying to break, I failed to put down on paper a proper outline until Halloween candy was being passed out. I had decided about a month ago that I was going to write a story about a suburban Phoenix neighborhood (easy enough for me to relate to, right?) and the different lives on a street. I’ve tentatively titled it, “Epic Adventures of Suburban Lives”. I didn’t want it to bash suburbia as other stories so often do. That’s too easy. That’s not to say that what comes out of the stories will all be positive, but I’m trying to approach it without a jaded viewpoint.
I had nothing more than that idea and title to go off of until I had a breakthrough about a week and a half ago. Now I know exactly where the story is going – I’m using the neighborhood of John and Sarah, my main characters from the “Monsoon” screenplay. This novel is going to take place a year before the events in the script and their two families will be characters in the story. Excited by this new approach, I sketched out on paper their half of the block. I narrowed it down to 10 houses, 5 on each side. My plan is to tell the story from the viewpoint of all the people on this street in these houses. Each chapter will be from someone else’s perspective. There will be overlap, but I’m not sure if it’s going to come out as a straightforward narrative or a collection of short stories. The writing will lead the way.
I really recommend that anyone who enjoys writing give NaNoWriMo a try. It’s a ton of fun and it looks like they have a very supportive community. At the very least, pitch in a few bucks to support the cause. I plan to. I will update my progress this month as I go, tracking the ups and downs of trying to create something from scratch. Wish me luck!