It’s that time of year again. Writers all over the world are sharpening their pencils, refilling their ink pens, and taping their fingers for the pounding they will be taking on the keyboard as they hammer out their novel in 30 days. I won’t be joining in the writing; I’ll just cheer from the sidelines.
NaNoWriMo seems to be exceedingly useful for a specific type of writer. I, however, am not one of those types of writers.
To the person that writes by the seat of their pants, the person that writes to discover what is going to happen next, NaNoWriMo can help overcome one of the most devastating obstacles: sitting at the computer, pounding on the keyboard, and ignoring the part of your mind that tells you that you’re doing it wrong. If one of the problems that is keeping you from writing is inner fear, and you don’t have to know where the story is going before you get there, then NaNoWriMo is fantastic.
I am not that writer.
I plan and plot, tweak and wiggle, poke and prod the story until it becomes the story that I want to tell. While I am in the plotting portion of creating a story, days or even weeks might pass with minimal words written. If I were to rely on word count during these times, it would appear as if I weren’t making any progress at all.
Some people would argue that I should do all this before I begin the November challenge of NaNoWriMo. But that doesn’t work for me either. I have written enough to know how writing works for me. I know what style frustrates me, and I know what style will ultimately make progress toward a finished work.
After the plotting, when I think that I am ready to tell the story, I begin writing it. I say begin because often I will come to a sudden halt without getting very far. I use the first writing attempts to find holes in the story. I will start to write and realize that I still don’t know enough about the world, the characters, the characters’ backgrounds, or some other critical aspect of the story. When that happens, I return to the drafting stage with an insight into were more work is needed. I keep repeating this process until the story is finally ready to push forward.
Once I reach this point, the biggest thing that remains is the typing. And I am a good typist if I do say so myself. If I could match this starting point with the beginning of NaNoWriMo, then I could participate in the challenge without simply failing and feeling terrible about my writing abilities. But I know that I am a good typist and I can generate thousands of words per day. Once I reach the typing stage, there isn’t really any challenge left. And since I would feel like I would be cheating if I were just to type during NaNoWriMo, I will confine myself to cheering for all the seat-of-the-pants writers that find the challenge valuable.