Mid-October last year, I stumbled upon an idea that changed my life for more than a month (and quite possibly a lot longer than that):
I wrote a novel in a month.
Let me 'splain:
I have been "writing" ever since I learned how to form letters. I write letters, emails, informative articles for magazines like Endurance News and some rather obscure library publications, and (obviously) I blog.
However, I've never been happy with my fiction-writing. I would always start off with plenty of enthusiasm, and after writing 3 or 4 chapters, I'd go back to look at the marvelous stuff I had created...except it wasn't marvelous.
It was a first draft.
It was dreck.
I had written dreck! I hate dreck!
In disgust, I would burn, shred, or delete the dreckish creation and then go back to writing good stuff. Non-dreckey stuff. Informative, well-researched stuff. Not imaginative stuff, mostly, but at least it wasn't dreck.
National Novel-Writing Month (called "NaNoWriMo" by participants) changed all that.
The concept is a challenge, and I like a challenge:
Write a novel--the whole thing, beginning-to-end, during the month of November.
The goal is 50,000 words, which turns out to be about the equivalent of a 175-page novel.
Yes, with a deadline like 30 days, I will probably create 50,000 words of dreck...but because there's no time to look back and evaluate what I'm writing, I actually have the potential to write an entire first draft, beginning-to-end, without getting disgusted and deleting the whole thing before I can even start writing Chapter Five.
First drafts are always dreck, but first drafts are a starting place for something potentially wonderful.
Last year was my first NaNoWriMo attempt, and I finished the story --close to 65,000 words, actually--in 28 days. Then I put it in a drawer for a year. In December this year, I'll take it out and look at it. Maybe it's complete dreck. Maybe it's potentially wonderful. I still think the premise of last year's novel was good, so after letting it settle in my brain for a year I can probably turn it into a promising 2nd draft.
Before I can do that, though, I have another WriMo month ahead of me, another month of sitting down almost every day for at least an hour to write.
I don't know yet what I'll write. Something with horses, certainly. Perhaps a romance? Not sure. I am accepting ideas, by the way.
Would you like to join me?
Set the goal for yourself: 50,000 words, starting November 1st, ending November 30th.
You can sign up at the official NaNoWriMo website, or you can just settle down and write. If you live in the Greater Swampland Region, the King County Library system offers all kinds of free support for WriMos, including write-in sites, writing workshops, and (at my building) free coffee during the month of November. If you live elsewhere, check with your local library--they can help you.
It's just a month. It's gonna rain anyhow. Why not write a novel?