Tuesday, November 30, 2010

NANO...Love it or Hate it

National Novel Writing Month ends today.
Did you participate? Do you have an opinion on writing a novel in a month? In the official NANO, the rules are set, no editing and a total of 50,000 words wins.

What I dislike about NANO...
--It occurs in November, of all the months of the year, NANO is scheduled for Turkey Month. Don’t these organizers realize this is a four day holiday at best? Make that five days if you’re being realistic. We all know baking/travel starts the day before Thanksgiving.
Or...did some genius realize that writers could harness all the adrenaline associated with the start of the holiday season?

--No editing...Wow...seeing those red squiggly lines for misspelled words drives me crazy. Bend a little...let me spell check, at least.

--Keeping up the pace is exhausting...after my first NANO I was exhausted!
Ah, but pacing is the secret. Try to write each day. Life will taunt you. We’ve already established that five days are lost. How about weekends? Saturday and Sunday off or spent writing? Your decision. Once you work out a plan, divide the number of days you can realistically expect to write into the 50,000 words and get the total words you need to write each day. It’s micro-managing. But it works.

--You concentrate on one manuscript for a month...what if you get stuck?
With the ‘build your own NANO’ you can switch manuscripts as inspiration strikes.

--You end up with 50,000 words...that could be c@#$!
But don’t forget, Queen Nora says you can’t edit a blank page. Your finished product might not work perfectly, but unless you copied the back of the cereal box or typed out your recipes to boost your word count, you have a story to revise.
BUT...that’s another monthly challenge!

Now, least you think I hate NANO, here are the reasons I’m drawn to the challenge year after year...

--I love the friendship...strangers from around the world jumping in and cheering each other. The official NANO site is bustling with group activities.
I can’t imagine how anyone can participate in all the events and meet their goal of a 50,000 word novel. Other sites offer slightly different options. At e-harlequin you can build your own NANO...need to edit a manuscript? Ok. Need to finish the manuscript you’re half-way through and stat another? Write a synopsis? Ok. And I love the checking in...

--I love the pace. After that first year, when I met my goal, but was too exhausted to care, I’ve learned to find a schedule that works for me.

--But the thing I love most about NANO is jumping into my story and staying there until the end.
You get to know your characters better. You feel part of the story, unlike taking breaks or writing here and there. And you finish the manuscript with a sense of accomplishment that is missing in a novel written over a long period of time.

--And, you have this big pile of words you can whip into a real novel.

Do I like NANO? Yes! Did I plan to participate again this year? No!
After slugging through my own personal challenge the end of August and half of September I didn’t think I could stand the pressure.
So, what happened? I spent October organizing, planning, out-lining, selecting pictures...and wouldn’t you know, the building excitement on the group sites got to me.

Why not take part? [all the reasons listed in the dislike section...]

So here I am the LAST DAY of NANO...way past my goal, reaching for a new personal record of words written in one month.

Am I sorry? Oh, no! Exhausted? No more so than after any huge Thanksgiving event. Will I take part again next year?

What do you think?

Did you participate in this marvelous world-wide writing month? What are you thoughts on NANO?


Sierra Donovan said...

Carol, major kudos to you for meeting and exceeding your goal! I'm curious to find out what your "personal best" will be.

As for me ... so far, Nano isn't a match. I tried it one May (IMHO, the only reason it could possibly be in November is because a MAN invented it). I made myself crazy counting words and crazier when I fell behind. And frankly, if I'd made it, I'm not sure I ever could have faced editing 50,000 words of solid first draft!

But I can see how it works for some people. Less time to second-guess yourself, a challenge to pursue an outrageous goal, and a month's worth of permission to take aim and go for it.

It must be a great feeling for folks like you who have the ability to pull it off!!

Elisabeth Rose said...

Well done, Carol. I've never been tempted to do a NANO. I can't stand those red squiggly lines either :) plus I've never been a "get the story down at all costs" writer, I polish as I go.

Sometimes I'm on a story that flows like the rain we're having here at the moment then I guess it's like the NANO experience.

I know some people LOVE writing that way and it really makes them focus, as you said. Don't think I'll ever sign up though.

Beate Boeker said...

I prefer to do it my way, too. If I have to, I can work under pressure, but I much prefer to do it without an intimidating deadline breathing down my neck. So I won't enter the NANO, either. However, I know that many people get their best results if under pressure, and for them, the NANO sounds perfect.

Carol Hutchens said...

Hi Sierra!
Thanks for your encouraging posts along the way...

The stress is a double edged sword, especially in Nov. But it's stimulating too.

Now, that editing is a $#&@#...
Yet, with the whole thing on paper, it makes some parts of it easier, too.

Love the comment about 'pulling it off'...LOL...okay, I have it on paper, now what do I do with it?

I think NANO is more about being a competetive spirit than a skilled writer.

Oh...my total...70,532
A sore arm, aching back, tired gritty eyes...and a big smile.

Thanks so much for posting.

Carol Hutchens said...

Hi Lis!

You hit on the best part, Lis, the feeling you're in the character's skin and the story flows...

It doesn't always happen when you stop and start, or it doesn't for me. It's like watching a movie with blinders on...you see the characters and nothing else.

Now...months of squiggly red lines...LOL

Thanks so much for posting.

Carol Hutchens said...

Hi, Beate!

It is stressful...you're fighting against time, your number of words, and facing the group with you post daily totals...

It's bootcamp for the publishing world...

So great you stopped in to post.

Sandy Cody said...

I haven't tried Nano yet, but keep thinking "maybe next year". Since I find getting the first draft down the hardest part and actually enjoy shaping my rough drafts into something that makes sense, I think it would be a good thing for me - if I can ever work up the discipline to do it.

Thanks for sharing your experience, Carol. It just may inspire me to actually do it next year.

Carol Hutchens said...

kHi Sandy!
There are lots of good reasons to give NANO a try.
Give me a shout next year and we can cheer each other on...

Great to see you.