Saturday, September 17, 2011

The bad, the good, and NaNoWriMo

The bad news? I'm still in a writing slump. I don't know what it is*, but whenever I sit down to write, I find myself paralyzed by the blank page (screen). However, the other day, a very helpful Twitter friend, @noelle_clark, asked me if I had thought about doing NaNoWriMo this year, as she was sure that it would be just the thing to get me writing again. The good news? I think she may be right.

Most writers probably know that November is National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo). According to the Web site, "National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000-word (approximately 175-page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30." What's different about NaNoWriMo is that writers are encouraged to work on new projects and write without worrying about quality, reasoning that getting the words down is more important. After all, what "they" say is true: words can be edited later, but a blank page can't.

That blank page is a real issue for me. I think that part of my problem with writing is my desire for perfectionism. I want everything to be just right, so if, for example, the first line doesn't sing, I just can't get past it. (Hello, WIP.) It's okay to want perfectionism, but to expect to have it in the first draft just sets the writer (me) up for failure. (Somehow, though, I keep forgetting this.) Perhaps trying once again to abandon my inner critic and give myself permission to write--as the NaNo rules state--"crap" will help me to get over this hurdle.

I can't remember now how many times I've participated in NaNoWriMo, but I think a good guess would be about four. I "won" two of those years, which means that I made the 50,000-word goal before November 30. I did do what I call an unofficial NaNo last year--unofficial because I wrote a memoir rather than fiction. I ended the month with over 70,000 words on that project, so even though I didn't follow the rules to a tee, I definitely consider the effort much worth my time.

As of this moment, I'm leaning toward participating again this year, although I'm not sure what my project will be. I could do another unofficial NaNo and work on my Jed WIP, but I'm concerned that that particular project is the cause of my writing burnout. I think it might be better to work on something new--but what? Unlike most writers, I seem to have a problem with coming up with solid story ideas, but maybe by the time November rolls around, I'll be able to find a workable one.

What about you? Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you participated in the past? And does writing with no goal other than hitting a specific word count work for you?

*On second thought, I do have an inkling. See paragraph 3.


  1. I've never participated, but maybe this year. I'm thinking about it. It depends on whether or not I find a job, and have the time.

    It sounds like a promising idea for you, Dana, because it will free you to write the less-than-perfect page. You've got a great writing style. I hope this helps you to have fun writing!

  2. Thanks, Monica. That's really nice of you to say. Today I actually came up with an idea that just might work for NaNo; I'm going to see if I can flesh it out in the next few days. I hope you can participate too. We could cheer each other on!