Though I first signed up for NaNoWriMo 3 years ago this is the first time I have actually got as far as filling in even the briefest outline and working title of a novel. Just doing this scares me silly! Which is probably a Very Good Reason to keep doing it, and never mind the quality of the work produced. You know, feel the fear and do it anyway. After all Anne Lamott herself advises us to get the words down on paper, write that shitty first draft. For if we don’t write it, we can’t revise it. Still it’s a scary business, made even more so by my almost pathological inability to decide on which novel I want to write.
You see the problem is that there are more than one; lots more. Years of dreaming up ideas and never getting around to spilling them out on paper has left me with lots of half-baked plots and scenarios.
Except for two. One is an idea for a possible Pocket Novel, the other is The Novel. Now really I want to write the Novel more than anything. So, I hear you saying, just do it! Except that it’s not so easy. In order to do justice to my magnum opus I have a huge amount of background and research to do, so much that I could quite feasibly fill a few binders with plot outlines, chapter proposals, scenes and characterization. And I absolutely love doing this work. It’s not work, it’s fun. And it’s not finished. So to begin writing before outlining all the elements is a bit like undermining myself before I’ve even begun, setting myself up for ‘failure’. Bearing this in mind I should probably just set my Novel aside and pick it up again in December. [Here a little voice interjects and pleads with me not to let it go!]
Most likely I will hardly keep or use anything that I write in NaNoWriMo anyway, so even if I turn away from The Novel and work instead on the Romance novel, I’m still probably going to dump at least half of what is written. So am I better ‘employed’ spending my time on writing for The Novel instead, especially as it will be no problem, cause me little angst, to throw lots of it away? For even if the actual writing itself is of inferior standard, the effort expended will most likely generate at least a modicum of workable ideas. The writing can then be worked upon, perfected even, later.
Oh what to do? And what a to-do! Surely I’m not the only participant who cannot decide the most productive way to spend her writing time this November? But perhaps all this is merely another form of procrastination, another way of avoiding the work?
Having said all this I did make a start earlier today, writing my first 1,663 words. But then I changed my mind, only to change it back again…..! Anyway for today at least it looks like I have begun a brand new romance pocket novel entitled ‘Fisherman Blues’…but that may change by tomorrow…..who knows what the day break will bring?!
I wonder is this a mark of procrastinators everywhere, that is, the inability to make up our minds, or is it just me? Gotta admit, it’s the perfect procrastinating tool par excellence, and only because I had to get something down today, there wouldn’t be a word count at all!!!
Do you know exactly what you plan to write this coming November, or am I missing the point of NaNoWriMo? Is it really more about the process with all the fun that accompanies such a perspective, a simply letting go and writing with the flow, a living in and for the writerly moment?
I shall conclude with this quote from a newsletter received today courtesy of Gotham Writers Workshop
“National Novel Writing Month is a fun and frenetic approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30.
Valuing enthusiasm and perseverance over painstaking craft, NaNoWriMo is a novel-writing program for everyone who has thought fleetingly about writing a novel but has been scared away by the time and effort involved.
Because of the limited writing window, the ONLY thing that matters in NaNoWriMo is output. It’s all about quantity, not quality. The kamikaze approach forces you to lower your expectations, take risks, and write on the fly.
Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that’s a good thing. By forcing yourself to write so intensely, you are giving yourself permission to make mistakes. To forgo the endless tweaking and editing and just create. To build without tearing down.
As you spend November writing, you can draw comfort from the fact that, all around the world, other National Novel Writing Month participants are going through the same joys and sorrows of producing the Great Frantic Novel. Wrimos meet throughout the month to offer encouragement, commiseration, and—when the thing is done—the kind of raucous celebrations that tend to frighten animals and small children.”
Perhaps this says it all……..but which novel will take the hit?????!!!!