Thursday, December 26, 2019

Nano days and Nano nights

Last month I finished another Nano. It was the second year I had won. Nano stands for Nanowrimo. It, like most things, started small, but has grown to hundreds of thousands of participants all over the world. 

In case you haven't heard of Nanowrimo, it is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month. The basic idea is to write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. If you want to succeed, there is no editing, no stressing over continuity--you just let the words flow and flow.

It has always been in November, which, when I was working full time, was not convenient. Too much going on in the schools where I worked and in my family. I was certainly getting too old to stay up past midnight any more. Still, I made a valiant effort. I did 48,000 words five years ago. 

I think the other problem is that I am what is called a "pantser." I have story ideas, but they develop as I write. I have sometimes said that the characters take charge and demand that the story be written their way. That gets me in trouble sometimes. For the life of me, I have never been able to develop and stick to an outline. A page of notes is the best I have done. 

I did some practicing with something called Camp Nano, which are smaller scale Nano's. These usually take place in the spring and summer, where the participant can sign up and declare their own goals. A much less formal writing process. I did several of those, cumulatively completing a sci fi novel. My goal was normally 20,000 or 25,000 words in the month. Several writing friends and I banded together in our own "campgrounds" and encouraged each other.  I completed these easily.

In recent years Nano has done something I couldn't do for myself--motivation to write a lot. Last year I wrote all 50,000 words on one novel. This year I didn't have one story cooking--I had several. So my 50,000 words were cumulative. I finished a novelette for one purpose, I also finished a fan-fiction that I had almost finished a decade ago (a lost story!!), and the beginning of a sequel to last year's Nano. 

Depending on my mood, I worked on one or the other and got my 50,000 words by November 26th. I kept writing through the end of the month. It was a good feeling. Now all I need to do is figure out the motivation for the rest of the year!! 

First two pictures from Nanowrimo. Last picture from Pixabay.