Friday, October 26, 2012

Nanowrimo prep, part 2 (magical deadlines)

It's hard to believe that a week from yesterday  (yes, I should have  posted this yesterday, but I got busy)  Nanowrimo will begin.  I think I'm as ready as I can be...   I have plenty of tea..  I have some ideas rattling around about this year's story..  I've got my Scrivener software, and my flash drive for backups... I've got dropbox on the laptop, the desktop and the iPad.. and I even bought this year's nanowrimo t-shirt.  The adrenaline level is building, and all that's left is to wait until the calendar finally turns over to November.  And, as usual, I find myself wondering why I'm doing this, and why all the fuss.

Nanowrimo is not a real competition, there's no real prize, no one checks your work, and it's not possible to submit your writing to Nano, even if you wanted to.  So -- why is this such a big deal?  It shouldn't be..   except that it is, at least for me.

Except that it's not just me.  At this very moment, there are over 48,000 people who are on the Nano website.  Last year, there were over 250,000 people who took part...  that's a quarter of a million...  and it's an international event.  Although I'm sure there are a lot of people who sign up at the last minute, and there are even people who sign up after November 1...  I have to believe that well over 100,000 people have already signed up for Nanowrimo 2012.  And if the forums on the website are any indication,  a big portion of them are making preparations, checking their software, doublechecking their backup systems, and watching the calendar, waiting for November 1.  Just like me.

So, again, what's the big deal?  According to the Nano site, "NaNoWriMo is all about the magical power of deadlines."    And I think they must be right.  Many  claim to hate deadlines, but I have always had a love-hate relationship with deadlines.  I hate having them imposed, but I love the way they make me feel energized.  So I'd have to agree that deadlines do carry a magical power.  And that's certainly been the case, with my writing.  In my first 50+ years, without a deadline, I wrote -0- words.   My first nano, I hit the elusive goal of 50k words, in early December... so I took about 37 days to write my 50,000 words.  For my next two nanos, the goal was not so elusive, and I accomplished 50k in 30d.
At the beginning of this year, I got involved with some terrific people who write year-round, and I thought  Why not?  I enjoy writing in November, why shouldn't I enjoy writing in March?   But without the deadline, I found that things moved much slower.  Six months after I started, I'd written around 10,000 words, and now it was time to start pondering topics for Nano.  I think that story has some potential, or at least deserves to be completed, but for now, I've set it aside. Clearly, I need the deadline, in order to make this work.

So why am I doing this, why all the fuss, and why is it a big deal?  On the one hand, it's kind of like the old joke.. I put myself through this, because it feels so good when I stop.  But on the other hand...  it feels good to write, it feels good to be part of this international community, and it feels good to meet a deadline.

To all those taking part in Nanowrimo -- Write On!  good luck, and I hope your characters are good to you.
To those not taking part in Nanowrimo --  I'm sorry.  You're missing out on a great adventure and experience.  Perhaps you'll decide to join us next year.

And now ---  I think I'll doublecheck, and make sure I truly have enough tea to get me through another Nano.


  1. I'm looking forward to updates about your progress!! I agree with you that deadlines make a difference. I CAN procrastinate a bit if something can wait, but I'll try to beat a deadline every time. Good luck!

  2. Tea...and chocolate. Right? I am so ready for NaNo! At least mentally. I know where I want to start, but have no idea where I will finish.

    Can't wait for your next novel!

  3. Nicely said. I agree about the deadline power. It gives us permission to set aside other things (clearing junk mail, washing dishes...) because the writing has to happen before December First!

    Good luck to you, too. May your tea stash last well into December. (I think I need to buy another pound of coffee.)

  4. I'm not nearly as prepared as you - but then, I'm a pantser all the way - as you know. Still haven't decided if my idea can hold 50K words...but I guess I'll find out!