Running into the Jaws of NaNoWriMo

I’m not actually writing this today, as I’m taking a long weekend so my husband and I can celebrate our 22nd wedding anniversary. But my ghostly alter-ego is appearing, to point you toward a post that’s been getting a revival lately: The 6 Golden Rules of NaNoWriMo. And, from the year before last: Launching Headfirst into NaNoWriMo.

What makes NaNoWriMo the event that it is?

  • Is it the time of year?

    Late—we’re all tired of the year by November, tired of the political and economic catastrophes that keep collapsing on our heads, tired of the ever-present, never-ending pressure of our jobs and regular daily routines. We’re looking forward to the holidays, and at the same time the angst of preparing for them is the perfect fuel for a cross-eyed, inexplicable blast out of our blessed minds.
  • Is it having a goal?
    • A wordcount
      And not the real wordcount for a modern salable novel either, but a cheat for today’s industry, a wordcount that harks back to an earlier time, a less restricted market, a less vicious competitive pool. A wordcount that reassures us that all those books we grew up on and have loved all our lives are perfectly good lengths for novels, no matter what anybody in the industry says now.
    • A time limit
      Which, as it happens, incorporates a hidden reward embedded in our calendar eons ago by those wacky Romans who made it up: November only has thirty days. So when you get to that one last day and realize you simply can’t go any further (this game has chewed up you and spit you out). . .you don’t have to. You can collapse right before the finish line, as we are all so tempted to do, and find yourself lying smack-dab flat across it. Hurrah!

  • It is the fact that so many others are doing it too?

    We who spend a lot of time online live in a virtual world simultaneously far more crowded and far more isolated than anything the human animal could ever have evolved to expect.Millions of us are out here in both real and virtual time.

    And yet it’s so darn quiet.

    But once a year a time rolls around in which thousands band together in a single project built around this craft we love. And we can find each other. We know we can.

I try to post stuff for you guys every week throughout November on how to produce great work in only thirty days that’s also (most importantly) fun, but what I don’t usually mention is that I used to write a book myself every November, and I did for ten years. They’re children’s books for my son.

I didn’t do it for NaNoWriMo. (In fact, I think my November habit began before NaNo. It certainly began before my awareness of NaNo.)

I did it because I wanted to give my son a new book that would make him laugh really hard every year, and I always procrastinated until November. Also, I’m 32,000 52,000 80,000 words into a ghost story planned to come in around 75,000, plus I now have three mystery novels written, on top of a two or three of literary novels and a couple of books of short stories—that just kind of happened.

So while you’re reading and wondering, ‘Does this stuff really work? I mean—how would she know?’

Rest assured: yes, it does work.

I know because I keep doing it.

[YES: I finally turned off comments because of the spam. Thank you for all your comments over the years! You’re such a joy to write for. If you like these posts, please feel free to click StumbleUpon and/or Facebook and/or Twitter.]

2 thoughts on “Running into the Jaws of NaNoWriMo

  1. Renee says:

    I look forward to seeing your tips each week!

  2. Hey, Victoria! I am one of those millions that participates in NaNoWriMo. This will be year 3 for me. Looking forward to hearing more of your tips and insights

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