Friday, October 19, 2007

Coming Soon: National Novel Writing Month, pt II

NaNoWriMo 2007 iconPart II: The NaNo nuts and bolts

So you have decided to try your hand at writing a novel in a month; or you are seriously entertaining thoughts of participating in NaNoWriMo next month, now what?

Actually you could do nothing except show up at your computer on November 1st, open a document file, and start keyboarding. That is how the original 21 members did the first NaNoWriMo and you can make it work. However, there is the experience of previous NaNo-ers out there and why reinvent the wheel when it isn’t necessary. There are tons of resources to guide your preparation including a little book titled Not Plot, No Problem written by Chris Baty; the brains behind the first NaNo writing marathon and still a major guru of the movement. I found an available copy at my library so I could test-drive it this year.

Of course the obvious, or maybe not-so-obvious, thing to do would be to sign-up at the NaNoWriMo website. Yes, signing-up actually requires you to sign an agreement to attempt to write a novel in a month as part of the National Novel Writing Month and other terms of services agreements, but you only have to deal with your own internal critics about that. If you have decided to sign-up, great but here are a couple of hints to save your sanity. After you go through the sign up – screen/user name, password and agreements – you arrive at your “author” page (profile) you’re in, but the system doesn’t exactly recognize you yet. You need to “edit profile” and go into “My Region” to select and set a home region, and how much email you want from your region.

Now the system recognizes you and you start accumulating statistics related to your activities on the NaNoWriMo site. The specifics for setting this will be in the email that confirms your registration, user ID and password; however your account activation is not tied to the email so you aren’t prompted to check for an email with instructions (I found out it was in the email after I finally figured all this out by dead-reckoning).

Once you have basic housekeeping accomplished check in and introduce yourself, especially in your “home region” and the Newbies forum. The Newbies forum also has a thread for finding a “buddy” who has completed a NaNoWriMo in the past and can offer support and encouragement. You will need your buddy and your home region comrades to see you through. But check in here too during the month. From time to time I'll ask people to post their progress and we can have a little blog party to cheer us on.

Now that you’re in and recognized you have access to unfathomable resources for succeeding at NaNoWriMo whatever you define success as being. The key thing though is to stick to it for the whole month because you won’t really know what is or isn’t possible until 11:59 p.m. on November 30th. You should also tell a few key loved ones and friends. Maybe they can lend support when you hit the wall or at least there will be an explanation when you’re cranky or sleep-deprived or not available.

To keep track of your progress there are two methods, set a daily word quota and upload daily word count to your profile. The level-word entry approach to writing 50K words is 1667 words for each of 30 days. If you miss a day quota, start over the next day with its 1667 word quota first. Then, if the day has time for more words, work off the deficit. Set your own goals, the 1667 is just one option, and link to a buddy who will offer support based on your goals. Remember, it’s about the journey as much as it’s about the book.

Traveling mercies.

Previously: Part I Countdown to National Novel Writing Month

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chelle said...

This is something that is in my goals for the next five years ... moving the next two years and then the kids should be old enough ... I think it is an amazing writing exercise! Good luck! I look forward to reading your thoughts on it.

Pieces of Me said...

Too bad I didn't 'know' you before NANOWRIMO... I would have loved this mini-tutorial. You explain things ever so friendly and helpfully.God bless.

Tim Draayer said...

Hmm, perhaps this his just the push I need to get the momentum going to write my book. :) Like I need more on my plate... hehe.