NaNo 2008: An Introduction

National Novel Writing Month [or NaNoWriMo, for short] begins Saturday, November 1st.  The idea behind NaNoWriMo is that you are supposed to write a 50000+ word book, from start to finish, during the course of the month.  You can outline/prepare before it begins, but the only words that count are those actually written down during November.

The big positive is that it encourages you to write something.  There is a non-profit that helps ‘organize’ it, there are a bunch of other people in your area with whom you can find mutual motivation, and there is the stress of looking at your word count every day mocking you.  In a haughty voice it mocks you.

The negative is that you are going to write utter crap.  There are special events, themes, word-offs, and such to help get those word counts up.  Writing a cohesive story is the least of a daring writer’s concern.  Only the word count matters!  It’s word count or die.  Let me put it another way: it would even break a mother’s heart to see the sort of drivel that is likely to be turned out by participating ‘writers’.  [ed: which shouldn’t be a problem for the writers of, since that’s the normal quality of writing on this site]

A typical NaNoWriMo will go something like this:

  1. October 31st, 11pm.  Show up, in costume, to Denny’s with laptop.  Don’t have any idea what to write.  One Luddite shows up with a pad of paper and a pencil like its still 1783 or whenever it was before laptops were invented.  Research only serves to limit word count, so it doesn’t really matter what year it was.
  2. The clock strikes midnight.  The fingers begin their divine, dirty work.
  3. Watch as someone next to you writes 2000 words in the time it takes for you do decide what directory to create your word document in.  They’ve gone home, hit the gym, and cleaned their bathroom by the type you’ve settled on the title for the document.  Don’t get me started on their ability to solve the derivatives market through a multi-sided credit-swap that ushers in a new age of peace and prosperity while you’re finishing the title page, headers, and footers.
  4. Anyway, you leave at 2 am tired with one thousand words.  It’s a this point you realize it might have helped to work on the outline in October.  Or even come up with an idea of what to write other than ‘giant robot paranormal romance’.  However, you’ve got a thousand words so you feel pretty good about yourself when you…
  5. wake up at 11:14am the next day.  [ed: this year November 1st is a Saturday, but that is not always the case]  You can always get to writing more later.  I mean, you already have a thousand words!
  6. Three days later you realize that those thousand words you wrote are getting kind of lonely.  You struggle in front of your keyboard for an hour, cranking out a measly 416 more words, and decide to watch Heroes.  Which has really gone downhill since the first season.  Now it is just the Petrelli family drama hour.  It’s almost like a ‘CW soap opera’ now, but the only difference is that the cast of Heroes is not comprised of cute twenty-somethings pretending to be in high school.
  7. You decide it might be a good idea to go to a write-in.  A write-in is where a bunch of NaNo participants sit together, normally in a public place (like a coffee shop, library, or conference room).  The idea is that you might actually write something if there are other people around you writing something (the kickoff above is actually a super-write-in).  So you go online to see where the write-ins are going to happen…
  8. …but they are all in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the day.  It’s like everyone else participating doesn’t have a job and lives out in the country.  You end up finding one you can actually make, but there aren’t any single, hot chicks there.   What the heck?
  9. To make matters worse, you manage to figure out how the Wi-Fi at the write-in’s coffee shop works.  The Internet prevents you from writing more than 217 words in the two hours you spend there.  On the bright side, one of the other writers there has a thousand words less than you, since they only heard of NaNoWriMo a week ago.  It feels good to not be in last place.
  10. Every week an ‘encouragement’ e-mail hits your e-mail inbox.  These are sent by the organizers of NaNoWriMo, and often feature famous, published authors that you’ve never heard of.  People who found eternal fame and success by writing outside of NaNoWriMo.  The messages have a different theme each week: starting well, hitting the 20000 word hump, the home stretch, etc.  Incredulous!  If there is a hump at 20000 words, then that’s going to be a problem — the 2000, 3000, 4000, and upcoming 5000 word humps have been quite troublesome.
  11. Thanksgiving is towards the end of November?  Great…  why didn’t someone tell me that’s when they scheduled it this year?
  12. At some point you’ll write something you’ll regret: a misplaced sentence, an unnecessarily verbose and redundant adjective or sentence clause, or even an entire chapter.  NaNoWriMo guidelines suggest that you do not delete it.  That is correct.  Erasing can come in December when you do not need the extra words.  I like panda bears.  Also, stop using contractions since they only count as one word instead of the two that you could get if you wrote everything out.  Sometimes random sentences also help (see the comment about panda bears above which might not be factually correct, or relevant, or accurate…)
  13. The stress might start to wear on you.  Relax, it is not the end of the world.  Imagine all of the people who have not even started NaNoWriMo.  At least you are possibly beating them at this point.
  14. Still, you will find each new day dreadful.  You are supposed to hit 1333 words/day, but it is impossible to not fall behind.  When you open up your laptop to look at your Word document, read the last page of crap you wrote, calculate how many words/day you need to ‘win’, I’m just going to watch some more Heroes or go to sleep or something…  I can just write harder tomorrow.
  15. You wake up early [or late] on November 30th.  This is it.  Going to sprint as much as possible after work!  I only need 42,879 words.  That’s only like 7000 words/hr.  If work only didn’t require me to stay so late today.
  16. At 9:47pm you set your alarm to ring at 11:55pm.  Nah, 11:50pm.  Then you get to writing.  And it flows and it is so beautiful and … ring! ba-ring! goes your alarm.  Right when you were getting to a really juicy part of describing how soft the rock hard, intangible melons felt between T.R.33V’s firm, but also intangible claws.  The way his vocorder crackled sweet subdivisions in her pert, intangible speakers.  Her gasps of delight were quickly lost under the pleasant hum of her cooling fans turning on.  Um…  But you don’t have time to continue!  Press CTRL+S, take a drink of water to cool down, and get ready for the most important part of NaNoWriMo: the validator.
  17. The validator is used to count a participants words, to judge if they ‘won’ by reaching the 50000+ word goal.  It takes 8 minutes to upload your word document to NaNoWriMo’s validator, but you make it with a minute or two to spare.  The validator tells you that you didn’t win, you didn’t come close to winning, and you need to eat more leafy green vegetables.  It’s basically your doctor without the coughing and the prostate exam.
  18. You might have lost by a large margin, but it feels good to have made that loss official.  Okay, it doesn’t really feel that good, but at least it is all over.
  19. So you tell yourself: ‘Next time!  I’ll get you next time!  I’ll have my revenge!’  Unfortunately, if you are at all like the writers behind, this draws a large number of stares since you just told yourself that aloud at the top of your lungs while in the middle of a coffee shop.
  20. When you wake up the next day there is a strange calm.  The pressure of hitting your 1,333 words isn’t there anymore.  Where the pain used to be is only… nothing.
  21. The only thing left is the TGIO [Thank Goodness It is Over] party a few days into December.  You show up meek and late.  It’s a mixture of people gloating about their 116,874 words before they started a second book in the middle of the month that they almost finished as well with people, like yourself, that didn’t even manage to crack the half-way mark.  Or even the quarter-way mark.  Well… you get the idea.
  22. Then you waste the next eleven months of your life living, breathing, working, eating, swimming, and reading quality Internet websites.
  23. GOTO 1

The staff at wishes y’all the best of luck with your NaNoWriMo endeavor.  At least, they would if there were any staff [ed: there is still no editor for this site] and if they didn’t consider it immoral for people to write works that don’t need to be read.  Which, unfortunately, includes your ‘giant robot paranormal romance’ masterpiece.  Sorry.

About lordpi

World's Foremost Satirist, Aspirant
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