Tuesday, November 13, 2007

NaNoWriMo: Ideas+Deadline=Motivation

My Dear Reader,

It's that time of year again. I breathe a sigh of relief every first of November for multiple reasons. One of them is that the dreaded Halloween season is finally over (we'll have to delve into my deep-rooted aversion to Halloween in other entry). Another is that Thanksgiving is in sight, and beyond it (but not at the same time, as others have mistakenly supposed) is Christmas. By November I'm already burned out by school, and for good reason: October is the only month in the Fall semester without an extra day off. So there's a lot going on. My excitement for Thanksgiving is fed by my need for a break, and even though professors tend to pile on the assignments at this time, I become less and less enthused. It seems counter-intuitive, then, that I would decide to write a novel during this season of stress and inactivity, but I have, and I will.

It's this thing I heard about last year in a creative writing class: NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month. Essentially, it's the writer's version of Around the World in Eighty Days. You think I can't write a 50,000 word novel? Are you willing to stake your reputation on that, gentlemen of the Reform Club? And the race has begun. There are thousands of us who have taken the challenge, but who will conquer? Why, my money is on the brilliantly clever Cecily Jane. With absolutely no real novel-writing experience under her belt, she's an obvious choice.

Okay, so maybe the real reason I took the challenge was the fact that I've been working on this young adult novel for over a year and I haven't done any actual writing since I began. I've done brainstorming and pre-writing, though; I have a little notebook that I keep in my backpack to write ideas in when they come, but the writing process had been put on hold due to a serious lack of motivation. This has become a problem because my novel's fan base, namely my brother Youngest, will soon be too old to be interested. My novel's geared towards ages nine-to-eleven, and Youngest will be eleven in December. I have to get at least a rough draft done by then because, after all, I'm mostly writing it for him.

So I'm going into NaNoWriMo with a purpose. I'm also going into it with 6,000 words or so, which means I'm cheating. Still, "winning" (i.e. writing 50,000 words) means I'll need to add about 1,667 words a day, so the head start I got shouldn't make that much of a difference. The key here is motivation. I've been attempting to write a novel for a year without much success. Now I've got over 18,000 words, which puts me a little behind, but it's way farther than I would have been on my own.

Sometimes, all you need to do what you really want to do is a little push. For a writer, next to inspiration a deadline is the best sort of push that you could get. So even though this deadline is artificial, it's still a deadline, and it's still motivation, and I'll take it.

I'll see you at 50,000 words.

Regards, best wishes, and budding novelists,

-Cecily Jane