I joined for the first time in 2006. Being a goal oriented person it appealed to me to have a deadline. I was very enthusiastic and also signed up online for a local Nanowrimo group that met in person once a week at Panera Bread (free wifi, and unlimited coffee for the sleep deprived). For reasons I can’t remember I did not meet these fellow Nanos until the halfway mark. By this point I was exhausted and exhilarated and couldn’t wait to hear what others were writing. There were four of them at a round table with their laptops clacking away. I didn’t bring mine. It was a letdown to discover that the majority of them were writing things like “I am sitting in Panera drinking my fifth cup of coffee talking to a newbie Nano. Her name is Lisa and she didn’t bring her laptop. Now I’m drinking a refill and soon I will go to the bathroom.” They were all about the word count, not about the content.
After that meeting I tried being less rigid in my writing and threw in a free association or two along the way. I didn’t stress about structure or grammar or where the story was going. The neighborhood Nanos encouraged me to “let the characters take over the story.” Unfortunately my characters were undisciplined and lost the plot completely. “Edit in December,” the Nanos advised. By December I didn’t recognize my writing and I had no energy for revision. I made it to 30,000 words though!
Sara Gruen wrote “Water for Elephants” in Nanowrimo. She is everyone’s Nano-hero.
I have concluded that for now, Nanowrimo is not the right format for me to accomplish anything remotely useful. It may work for you, however, so check out www.nanowrimo.org if you are so inclined.
The discipline and deadline were helpful to me so I have developed my own 2011 November challenge:
- Spend time on writing every day.
- Time writing.
- Time editing.
- Time researching.
- Time revising.
- Time agent hunting.
- Log B.I.C. ("Bottom in chair") time. It is an essential element to success according to every conference I have attended.