I’m up early, getting some work done before going for a run, and apparently this morning thing is making me ambitious. Every year around this time, I ask myself: Should I participate in National Novel Writing Month? (NaNoWriMo for short.)
This event — really, a challenge — involves writing a 50,000 word novel in the 30 days of November. While one could, of course, choose any 30-day stretch to bang out that number of words, it’s kind of fun to know that thousands of other people are playing along. Whatever you write in 30 days won’t be a good novel, but it will be a manuscript. You can then take your time editing, but in my experience, it is much easier to turn something into something better than to turn nothing into something.
So, that’s the appeal. Since I’ve done this challenge a handful of times (including with Juliet’s School of Possibilities! Though that’s shorter than 50,000 words) I know I can do it. I also know how. Write 1667 words per day, or, if you only intend to work 20 days in November (more likely — everyone loses a day here and there), write 2500 words per writing day. That takes me about two hours. Some days I might be better or worse than others but probably I could do this whole project in 50 hours or less.
The upsides: I’ve been complaining that I’m not doing much creative just-for-me writing. I enjoy writing fiction. I wouldn’t mind having another novel manuscript to play around with. Long-term, maybe I could get it out into the world.
The downsides: Well, two hours a day isn’t nothing. My travel/work schedule is much lighter for November than October, but I will be even more pregnant and possibly more tired. I could invest this time in getting ahead for January and February. Perhaps most importantly: I don’t have a burning idea of what to write about. I’d need to spend the next few weeks pondering an outline. I might also feel guilty neglecting the 50,000 word novel I wrote LAST YEAR. Theoretically, I could turn that something into something better. In 40-50 hours of editing, it would definitely be better than it is now. So should I double down on that? Hard to know.
I could do a hybrid — adding 50,000 or so words to my existing novel. That would change it quite a bit. Broaden the scope, which might be fun. It might also weigh it down like snow on a too-old roof.
In any case, these are the things I ponder. Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? Are you thinking of doing it this November?
(Note: Word count a little less than 500 words on this post. It took me less than 20 minutes to write. That suggests a rate of 1500 words/hour but I think that’s too ambitious a goal to sustain for a whole manuscript).