Last November 30th, I spread my sore, swollen fingers, looked around my filthy house and made a vow to never, ever, try to do NaNoWriMo again. I mean, I’m a mother of six teens with a full time job. And they stuck NaNoWriMo in a short month with a major mother-intensive holiday! It’s like the writing marathon from Hell, and there’s no way I could do that to myself again.
Then, on September 3rd, the evil people from NaNoWriMo sent out a reminder e-mail, a call to arms of sorts.
I tried to ignore it, I really did. But my treacherous mind reminded me what it felt like to see 52,000 at the bottom of my manuscript.
Yep, last year, I’d done it. For no other reason than a cheesy web badge and bragging rights, I’d written half a novel. Today, I’m making the final edits of the 100,000 word manuscript. Today, I have a book I’m ready to sell – a NaNo novel.
Urged on my such thoughts, the Plot Bunny, the fickle rodent that brings mayhem to my writing life, paid me a visit.
I grabbed every weapon I could from my mental arsenal and tried to kill that rat-fink rabbit and all his demonic offspring. I had good reasons. I’m too busy and I have a life. I’m a mother and teacher and need to be able to use my fingers for things other than typing. NaNoWriMo is nothing more than web-based insanity!
It didn’t work. Without permission, new characters invaded my brain and began talking to me, teasing and cheering and demanding that they be given their chance at a story. Unwritten characters are vicious beings, unscrupulous and cruel. They’ll nag incessantly until they nearly drive you insane.
On September 10th, I caved. I gave into the characters and let them tell me their story while I took notes and outlined the plot.
And I fell in love with building a story once again. I fell in love with my characters and their unique adventure and with the opportunity to once again give them life.
As a veteran of NaNoWriMo, let me invite you to join us and write like a possessed maniac. It’s more fun and more work than you can imagine, and it’s worth every ache, pain, hour of lost sleep and tear. It will be tough, impossible on some days, but you can do it. I know, because I did. Want to know how?
First, go to the NaNo webpage at nanowrimo.org and sign up. Then go and sign up in the forums for your region. Signing up for a region is essential because you need backup! You need to be accountable to someone. Join a Facebook group, get a Twitter or g-chat or Skype. Follow NaNoWriMo on every social network you have. Get a group of people to commiserate with, cuss at, and cheer for. You’ll need them.
Next, go to the sites that nanowrimo.org suggests and get your novel ready. It doesn’t take much, just a simple outline, a list of characters, and, most importantly, a reason to write it. Last year, my characters changed and my outline only lasted a week, but the reason never changed. It’s the reason that’s important.
Once you are on the site, follow the advice of others. Those of us who’ve completed 50,000 words in a month know a few things about making it through the hell that is NaNo. The site itself will send out pep talks and is full of helpful ideas, timelines, widgets, countdowns and advice. Take it. Take as much of it as you can
Finally, have fun! When your story works and when it doesn’t, have fun. When you’re sick of typing and hate your characters, have fun. When a scene works out better than you ever imagined, have fun. Type. Type until it hurts and keep going past the pain, and have fun. Just remember you’re a part of a world wide writing marathon, and it’s an experience like no other, so enjoy it and have fun!
I’m Openhome at the NaNo site. If you can, come join me. I’ll write with you, cry with you, and celebrate with you.
Either way, I’ll meet you on the other side.