Absurdity, Advice, Writing

Prepping for NaNoWriMo

Weeeeelp, it’s almost midnight on Sunday evening and I haven’t come up with anything intelligent to write for Monday’s post yet, so instead of trying to be cool and smart I’m just going to ramble for a bit about what my plans are for NaNoWriMo, and why you should totally join me and do it, too. Even if you aren’t a person who writes very much. Maybe there will also be pictures of my parents’ husky, because I feel guilty about not providing anything of substance in this post, so at least you’re getting that out of it. Okay, there are definitely going to be pictures of my parents’ husky. Here’s a husky:

Maui

Now for some more about NaNoWriMo. For those who don’t know, “NaNoWriMo” is National Novel Writing Month, which is what writerly-types like to call November. It was started more than a decade ago between a small group of friends, and then it just sort of took off from there. Basically, the goal is to write a novel–50,000 words minimum–in the 30 days that make up November. There’s an official website, NaNoWriMo.org, where you can sign up, keep track of your word count, get pep talks from professional writers, connect with your friends, join local forums, and all kinds of other things. It’s a pretty great resource.

I was introduced to NaNo (for short) by my excellent friend Emily, and have done it a few times, winning twice. The first time I did it was my Junior year of high school, which was inadvisable because I was also an athlete with a full course load, but somehow I made it to the end. Still not sure how. The second time I won, I wrote 15,000 words on the last day to meet the deadline. Needless to say, NaNo has an ability to motivate that borders on witchcraft.

Recently, though, I’ve been in a bit of a writing funk. I’ve tried to write a number of different novels, but always get bogged down in the details, or lose interest halfway through. Basically, I lack follow through on long projects, so I’ve opted to give novels a rest for a while and focus on writing short stories, which I seem to be able to actually get through. I still want to harness the crazy motivational magic that is NaNoWriMo, though, so I’ve created my own version of the event. Instead of a novel, I’m going to write (a minimum of) 5 short stories, which add up to 50,000+ words, in the month of November. Hopefully, this will give me a solid body of work to start edits on, and at least one or two stories will come out of it that I feel comfortable submitting somewhere. If nothing else, I’ll have excised some of these loose-floating stories in my head and put them down on paper. I already have the rough skeletons of a few jotted down for later reference, because preparation is the key to success! Or something.

Maui05

Which brings me to why you should also do NaNoWriMo, even if you aren’t really a person who writes.

1. It’s fun & exciting.

Yes, trying to write 50,000 words in a month can be stressful as hell, and make you want to throw your computer across the room, but in the end there’s just something thrilling about having a deadline to meet. When was the last time you wrote something that had a due date? And writing a story isn’t anything like writing a paper. The whole point of NaNoWriMo is to leave your self-criticism at home and just have fun making something new exist. Bad writing is actually encouraged. There’s a forum for it. Loosen up and type some things, even if it’s just a diary or some stupid observations you made. Maybe you’ll surprise yourself.

2. You get to meet awesome people.

There’s a popular myth that writing is a solitary activity, but that’s pretty much bullshit. Writers throughout history have teamed up with other writers to sit together in rooms, maybe have some alcohol, and bitch about the craft we all love so much while occasionally writing things. You just have to find some like-minded folks, and November is the easiest time to do it. During NaNoWriMo awesome writers are everywhere, and they are clearly labeled. The Seattle-based NaNoWriMo club is the Hydrophobic Ducks, whose mascot is a rubber devil duck, which members purchase and take to cafes with them. If you walk into a cafe in Seattle in November and see somebody with a devil duck at their table, you’re welcome to sit down, do some writing, and make a new friend. There are also more formal meetups going on, all over the world. You can find ones in your city by picking your region on the NaNo website and finding a meet up that fits your location and schedule.

Maui03

3. Even if you lose, you win.

A lot of people see that big wordcount goal and immediately talk themselves out of doing NaNo. “I could never write that much,” they say. “I don’t have enough time or motivation or brain cells or blood offerings to appease the writer gods. I wouldn’t make it past 5k.” That is pretty much the stupidest excuse ever, though, because the thing about NaNo is that it doesn’t really matter if you make it to the end or not. Just by trying, you wrote more than you would have otherwise. Only made it to 20k? Well, that’s 20k more than you’d written before. Got tangled up in a plot and couldn’t figure out how to resolve it? That’s cool. At least you made it that far, and now you know what doesn’t work and can do it better next time. There’s literally no downside to doing NaNo. The worst that can happen is that you wrote some things you might not have written otherwise. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

So, to recap: you should do NaNoWriMo because it’s fun, you can make a lot of new, awesome friends, and the worst that can happen is that you are slightly more accomplished than you were before. If you want to be my buddy on the NaNo website, you can find me here! Let’s do something crazy together.

Also huskies are adorable, obviously. I hope you enjoyed this post. I’m going to bed now.

Huskily yours,
M.M. Jordahl

“There’s an old folk saying that goes: whenever you delete a sentence from your NaNoWriMo novel, a NaNoWriMo angel loses its wings and plummets, screaming, to the ground. Where it will likely require medical attention.” -Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo

P.S. Husky-ception:

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