Thursday, 19 May 2011

NaNoWriMo

I'm not disciplined enough to write a book. But I would like to have a go. If I ever do write one I don't think it will be fiction as I'm not imaginative enough. It'll probably be more like a fictionalised account based on a true story. Because I think this will be very hard for me to achieve I've included 'writing a book' as a separate challenge to actually being a writer on my list. If I write a book but never write anything else, I'll only tick off the book task. If I write and get published regularly, but don't write a book, then I'll only tick off the writer challenge.

I heard of NaNoWriMo recently on another blog. I had no idea what it was about but a bit of googling soon sorted that out. It stands for National Novel Writing Month and takes place each November. It started as an American thing, hence the 'national', but is now global.

Basically you register, and then spend November trying to write a 50,000 word novel. By the end of the month you have to upload your novel to their site and their special counting machines do a word count. If you've achieved the magical 50,000 you get to copy and paste an online certificate. So no big prizes, but then it is free. And it gets people writing. The best reward of course is that by the end of the month you have 50,000 more words than you had at the start and so have something to play around with and try to turn into an actual novel.

When I was a student and had to write essays I always struggled with the traditional 'make a plan first' approach. I agree, this is a very sensible and practical approach and I can't fault it. But I couldn't do it. I would write my plan and then stare at the page not knowing how to turn it into an essay. So I came up with my own technique. After doing some research around the subject area, so I at least had a bit of a clue about what I was doing, I would sit down and time myself for one hour. In that hour I had to write my essay. This killed two birds with one stone. It was great exam practice and it meant I had something on paper that I could then edit and turn into an acceptable essay. After reading it through I'd have a good idea of what I could actually do with the essay, what changes needed to be made, what needed to be added (or left out), and so on. Then I'd make my plan and write my essay in the conventional way.

With NaNoWriMo I'll have to use this technique. There'll be no time for edits, drafts, research, plans, or any of the other stuff that you're supposed to do first. Sounds perfect for me!

So depending on my workload, and how my college courses are going, I'll be giving this go. Hopefully this November, but if not, then the one after.

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