Wednesday, September 12, 2012

National Novel Writing Month 2012 (The first)

Hey folks.

Life has quickly turned into something terrifying and exhilarating as of late; Uni semester is heating up, I'm two weeks (barely) from a big Anime convention and three weeks from turning 21. (WHEN DID THAT HAPPEN?). And People make life interesting along the way. But it's good, I think. According to the breakdown of Relativity, time slows down the faster you go. Maybe that's why I'm always so temporally confused.


September is screaming by, and October is only going to be louder. And then:

There is Novemeber.

And November will be best month, because it's the month where I get to be a big shut in and do NaNo.

What is NaNo, I hear you all ask?

National Novel Writing Month is a project that happens online, every November. The project is simple: write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days.

And now I'm about to tell you why you should try it.

NaNo was something I had heard not a whimper of until a couple of days into November last year, where I had attended a birthday party for a friend. The theme for the birthday party was 'cool hats'.
So, with top hat attached to head, I attended. There was only one other top hat present at the party, and the owner and I engaged in light conversation until he mentioned NaNo.

And the rest was quite an interesting story.

Not a fifty-thousand word one. It was basically 'hey you should do this it's stacks of fun'

I had half an idea sitting in the back of my head from a dream earlier that year and started a week late.

It was only half an idea, but it was enough. Ideas are like fires. You get a small spark, and then feed it enough coffee, and suddenly you have this raging inferno of metaphor and concept bearing down on your keyboard like a truck with no brakes.

It's not that difficult to start a novel either.

Like I said, my novel from last year (Which ended up being called Shift) was about a guy with no memory and a time traveller. The time traveller sends the man with no memory to different points in time to stop events from taking place, in a bid to unmake the accident that destroyed the man's memory.

There was a lot more that unfolded from it, but the little thing got a lot bigger. I reached the goal of fifty thousand about half a week early, and then stopped writing, finishing the novel off later.

At this point in time, I've had people tell me that it's impossible; that they don't have time, or that they can't write.


I'll be posting up more exciting and helpful things on writing in a bit, as well as details on all the exciting things the Municipal Liasons in Newcastle are doing this year (That's me and my top hat-wearing mate Jo)


Why not at least consider it?

NaNo novels function differently to how a lot of people write. It's a self-driven project, and is about the word count. You don't have to write a Stephen King (And believe me, you won't unless you are Stephen King). The same would go for Dan Brown, James Patterson or Matthew Reilley.

By the way, most of the novels those authors churn out are enormous. 50,000 words is roughly the same length as, say, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, The Great Gatsby, Fight Club, The Notebook, The Invisible Man, Of Mice and Men and Brave New World. And odds are you have probably read one of these, for, like, school or something. They're not that big.

Comma explosion.

My point is, the word count is not that big. It's possible. It actually equates to 1,667 words a day in November. Which might sound scary initially until you realise that it's creative writing. It could be drivel. Doesn't have to be, but could be.

And because the MLs for Newcastle are going to be Wizzards this year, there will be a stack of things to do if you want to hang out with other people who are likewise tanked up on coffee. Or tea. Or chocolate.

Mmm. Chocolate.

Another thing that scares a lot of people is self editing. Coincedentally, it's the same reason why a lot of people I meet tell me they can't draw.

The conversation usually starts like that, and then goes "Oh, but you're an art student, of course you can draw".

hahaha. nah man.

I think I usually reply to that with, "It's more about not telling yourself that you suck"

See, when you write anything (or draw anything, for that matter), it's easy to immediately compare it to the other people you are interested in in that area (So, let's go back to Patterson for writing and, say, Rembrandt for drawing). Upon the immediate comparison that your work is not exactly like a Rembrandt, there is desk-flipping and walking away.

I think we tend to write ourselves off to quickly with regards to that.

The other thing about NaNo writing is that you simply don't have time to go back and edit everything; you could spend time making your grammar shiny and your sentances pretty, but in the end, it's too much time to go back and look at stuff. It's very easy to get self-critical, until the novel gets chucked out in frustration or anger.

Lemme tell you, I picked Time Travel last year. Didn't think through the mechanics of it. Had to decide halfway through the novel whether or not to kill someone because I couldn't remember whether or not time was linear or branching in nature.
(It's linear)
But at the time, I didn't think things through clearly enough. I could have spent ages going back and fixing things, but there simply wasn't time.

That's okay though, because the feeling of accomplishment at the end of the novel was great. It's the sensation of setting out to do something and achieveing it and getting to share that achievement with a whole bunch of people. Which is grand.

So. What do we have at the end of this post-with-no-pictures?

Try NaNoWriMo.
It's stacks of fun.
50,000 words in November.
You don't have to write a masterpiece.
Newcastle will have some really fun MLs this year.
It's achievable.
Lots of caffiene.
Stop telling yourself you suck.
Write like crazy and don't get caught up in re-reading or editing.
It's a big challenge with a proportionate amount of joy at completion.

Click here to check out the NaNo website. There's still plenty of time to consider giving it a whirl.

And I can promise you, if you do it, you'll never be scared of wordcounts again.

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