Tuesday, 6 November 2012

A Newbie's View of NaNoWriMo

I'm really into fiction writing this month, having launched myself into NaNoWriMo, which, if you haven't heard of it, is National Novel Writing Month. I don't know who first came up with the crazy idea of writing 50,000 words in one month, but it's been going for a fair few years. I'm a nervous newbie to this. I see it as a way of giving me a kick up the rear in getting started on a sequel to my first novel, a Tudor adventure for teenagers. While I send out this first novel in batches to addresses on my well-researched list of agents, I can't just sit here and twiddle my thumbs. That way lies the path to madness - right? So, in a grand gesture of optimism, with visions of two-book deals and all, I am embarking on my sequel, with a target of 1700 words to be written daily, every day, during the month of November.

Another reason for taking part in NaNoWriMo is the hope that I'll hook up with some local writers. I've only been in this area for just over a year, and don't know that many people yet - not that I'm lonely - I'm pretty much fine with my own company, even with my husband working away from home during the week. NaNo has regional groups, you see, and they meet up for 'write-ins', wage 'word wars' against each other via an online chatroom and have social meets in the pub. It all sounds good doesn't it? But it's also a bit scary - putting yourself 'out there', meeting new people, doing different things, and for me there is the irrational fear that they'll all be younger than me. Now that shouldn't make a difference, I know, but somehow it does. I decided to avoid the first social as it was being held in a student pub on Hallowe'en - a sure fire guarantee to make me feel out of place, but today I am going to be brave and go to a ‘write in’ in a local cafĂ©.

One excellent tool to come to my attention via NaNo so far is the ‘Write or Die’ app. On its website it states its aim is to ‘put the prod into productivity’. It certainly had that effect on me, since the first two paragraphs of today’s blog were written in ten minutes while trying out the site. The Write or Die website suggests that working with the Sword of Damocles swinging over your head will force you to write:

by providing consequences for distraction and procrastination. As long as you keep typing, you're fine, but if you become distracted, punishment will ensue. Everything is configurable, name your word goal, time goal and preferred punishment, then start writing. Once you're done, export your writing to Dropbox, Email, Clipboard or Text file.

So, if you don’t fancy the harshness of your words suddenly starting to disappear because you’ve stopped typing, you can always set it at a gentler method. If the general idea of any kind of punishment is all too much for you, there other, similar site, which work  solely on rewards – such as Written Kitten. At the very least this way of writing will add a little fun into what might otherwise become a repetitive process. I’m not sure how I’d fare on a longer timescale. I have only done it for ten minutes. Maybe I’ll ask some of the more experienced NaNo writers at my ‘write-in’ today.