Wednesday, November 14, 2012

NaNoWriMo: When Word Count is Your Goal

If you haven't been paying attention for the past ten plus years, you might have missed hearing about National Novel Writing Month, better known as NaNoWriMo.  I admit that until a few years ago, I was clueless and had no idea what that "gibberish" meant.  Since then, I've become more enlightened and given quite a lot of thought to participating.  If I didn't seem to always fall in the middle of some kind of deadline, I would have jumped in last year or even the year before.  The same holds true for this year.  Unfortunately, revisions don't net 50,000 words, as a rule.  (I have managed to accrue a few thousand, though, so imagine what that means. ;) )

For anyone who thinks that writing 50,000 words in a month (NaNo runs each year from Nov. 1 through Nov. 30) is an easy task, it isn't.  Okay, back in the day when I first started writing towards the goal of being published, I could write a 50,000 word book in three weeks or less.  And some of those books written that fast weren't half bad.  They weren't always half good, either.  But let's face it.  A book written that quickly is basically nothing more than a first draft.  It takes me longer now to write that first draft.  To write a book from scratch via NaNo, I'd have to write more almost three times faster.  Oy vey!

There are tricks to writing a first draft that fast, and one of them is knowing who your characters are and where the story is going.  Trying to do it with no road map will probably net the writing a lot of rewriting in the future.  For those who enjoy rewriting and revising, this is a plus.  For Geminis like me who get easily bored with the SaMoSaMo, it's not so great, but for others who have polished and tweaked their process...WOW!

There are tricks to writing for NaNo or for any type of fast draft writing.  If word count really is your goal, but you want to have something to substantial to build on, have a plan and especially a system.  I encourage you to look around for hints and tips and the processes of others.  Then, as national bestselling author Anna DeStefano says:
"Listen to what I do, watch others, then figure out your own process and how best to improve how YOU write. So YOU can draft better and more productively and have what you need to rewrite something brilliant from those rough first words."
and check out her new blog post, How We Write: Drafting freedom.  You don't want to miss it!

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