Is anybody else being bombarded with messages from NaNo WritMo -- National Novel Writing Month, which is scheduled to begin November 1st? I get about three a week, and the guilt is overwhelming. I've done this marathon several times, winning in 2009 and in 2010, before failing badly in the Summer Camp exercise in 2011. Last year, I decided to do another Summer Camp, set my own goal of 35,000 words instead of 50,000, and had my own private victory party. But every time, I vow never to do it again.
The premise is simple enough. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words, which they say can be enough for a whole novel. Now, the writing goals are perfectly doable -- 1667 a day and you're in! It's the monotony of doing it every day without time to think and reflect about what you are writing that gets to me. I also have trouble with the 50,000 word goal as equalling a whole novel. In my own mind, I like my novels meatier than that. 100,000 words is more to my liking, although being offered a prize for writing half a novel isn't as appealing.
Here's my dilemma this year. I have the start of a big meaty story about a marriage threatened by the events of the Civil War. By "start" I mean some 67,000 words, with the story still having a lot of disasters to go. So this year's NaNoWriMo exercise would be perfect for forcing me to finish writing the first draft of the novel. EXCEPT! Except that my November is already booked. I have a new book that launches in mid-October. We are scheduled to be out of town every blessed weekend in November--a trip to Nashville, another to Branson, and then a book tour of South Carolina. And of course, there's Thanksgiving in there, too.
Devoting the time to write 1667 words every day of November? Not going to happen! So . . . I'm making up my own rules. I studied my November calendar and found 9 days when I could be free and close to the computer to write those 1667 words. What about the other 21? I've decided to declare 21 days in October as November days. Time is a human construct, right? Julius Caesar re-wrote the calendar to give himself a month (July), and a medieval pope rearranged the calendar again to drop a bunch of days in October and make sure that winter continued to arrive in the winter. Why can't I do a little private rearranging?
Today, dear friends, is November 2nd in my book world. I've already written 3,737 words, which already puts me a little ahead of the curve. An added advantage is that in this manipulated schedule there are open days -- time to breathe, reflect, plot, and plan.
When the official November 1 finally gets here, I'll record yesterday's total words, and go from there. With luck, I plan to finish on the day before Thanksgiving . . . which will make me very happy, even if I did make up my own calendar. Want to join my schedule?