As summer ends and fall approaches, those of us who are regular NaNoWriMo writers begin to plan for November, our month of committed writing. We are making notes to and jotting down ideas as they occur to us. Some of us are making brief outlines which we may or may not follow.
Some years I start with the idea for a novel. The first draft of Huw the Bard was written during NaNoWriMo 2011, although he wasn’t published until 2014.
However, for the last four years, I have written short stories and novellas during NaNoWriMo, because I have several fantasy novels in progress and what I really need are literary fiction short stories for submitting to contests and magazines.
I always enter November with my literary guns blazing. I have a list of ideas for plots and hit the keyboard at 12:01 a.m. on November 1st by attending a virtual midnight write in.
Many people have heard of NaNoWriMo, but think the month is only dedicated to novel writing. People are always glad to learn that many people with no desire to be published authors use this month to create 50,000 word manuscripts.
- Family historians
- Dedicated diarists
- People working on their PhD
- people writing cookbooks
Anyone who wants or needs a month dedicated to getting a particular thing written will do so in November.
More people do this during November than you would think–about half the NaNo Writers in my regional area are journaling or writing college papers. The support of our online group gives the graduate student an added incentive to stay focused on writing their thesis.
This support group offers moral support to diarists and encourages them to write more about their world, their thoughts, and their philosophies.
I’ve been asked many times what I see as the differences between journaling and noveling. (Sorry, word-nazis—”noveling” is a word. I invented it several years ago for a blog post and still use it regularly.)
Anyway, journaling is keeping a personal diary with an eye to stress management. As a self-exploration tool, journaling works best when done consistently. You write on a daily basis, or at least frequently.
According to the website, Very Well Mind: Journaling allows people to clarify their thoughts and feelings, thereby gaining valuable self-knowledge. It’s also a good problem-solving tool; oftentimes, one can hash out a problem and come up with solutions more easily on paper.
Diarists detail their lives, the world around them, and how the larger events of society affect them. A famous diarist was Samuel Pepys, whose diary details the Great Fire of London and include many tidbits about the famous people he knew.
From the fount of all knowledge, Wikipedia: The detailed private diary that Pepys kept from 1660 until 1669 was first published in the 19th century and is one of the most important primary sources for the English Restoration period. It provides a combination of personal revelation and eyewitness accounts of great events, such as the Great Plague of London, the Second Dutch War, and the Great Fire of London.
Noveling is telling lies, keeping them straight, and making the world believe it until the last page.
When I first began with NaNoWriMo, I spent some time lurking on the various threads on the national website. To my utter surprise, I discovered a contingent of writers who were not trying to write a book that could be published. For them, this was a game they wanted to win at any cost, and their goal was to see how high their word count could get.
One suggestion from them for increasing your word count was to use no contractions.
Let’s be clear: I do NOT recommend this. If you ever want to publish your manuscript, you will have a lot of work ahead of you to make it readable if you do that.
Whether you are journaling or noveling, participating in NaNoWriMo helps you develop the discipline of writing daily. Write for as long as you can when you can, and that will build your ‘writing’ muscles.
As a novelist, if I dedicate 3 hours of every day in November to just writing stream of conscious, I will chunk out 2500 to 3000 words a day, half of which are miskeyed and misspelled. No one is perfect.
When I can’t find a word to express a thought, I invent one. In reality, some words I invent, and some words invent me.
If you should choose to enter this highly addictive adrenaline rush of a month-long activity, go to www.nanowrimo.org and sign up! Pick your name, get your author profile started, and look up dragon_fangirl (that’s me). Add me as your writing buddy, and I will be part of your writing posse, cheering you on when you need a morale boost.
Credits and Attributions:
Wikipedia contributors, “Samuel Pepys,” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Samuel_Pepys&oldid=854824642 (accessed September 4, 2018).
Quote from Journaling for Stress Management, by Elizabeth Scott, MS for Very Well Mind, https://www.verywellmind.com/the-benefits-of-journaling-for-stress-management-3144611, Ⓒ 2018 About, Inc. (Dotdash) — All rights reserved (accessed September 4, 2018).
Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month.