Tuesday, October 23, 2012

To NaNo or Not to NaNo...

November is just around the corner.  The mention of November generally conjures up images of Thanksgiving turkeys and Christmas shopping, hot apple cider and pumpkin pie.  While writers of course love these things too, the mention of November means something a little different to us -- NaNoWriMo!

While the word sounds strange and imaginary, it actually stands for "National Novel Writers' Month."  The thirty days of November act as a ticker, each day causing you to race against the clock to churn out a 50,000 word story by the time the calendar strikes December 1st.  Stressful, masochistic, yet strangely exhilarating, NaNo gives writers a chance to put their inner editor to rest and write their hearts out.  It is all about the process, leaving the characters, plot and pacing to be addressed by the aforementioned inner-editor during the second draft.  It is such a rush to upload that story for the final word count on November 30th.  The sense of accomplishment you feel is second only to actually being published.  I've participated twice in the festivities and have thoroughly enjoyed (while of course hating it) each time.  NaNoWriMo causes you to confront your inner control freak who wants to re-start the story every time you read through and dislike what you've written.  With NaNo, there is no time to re-read and re-write.  It's the beauty of the whole process!

So, the question is, should I participate this year?

I keep going back and forth on that very question.  The fact is, I love the process.  I am never as productive as I am during those thirty days, staying up late, getting up early and stealing every spare second I have to meet my daily word count.  NaNoWriMo is the sole reason that I have two novels waiting to be edited (again, having edited each of them at least twice each already).  But there in lies the problem -- do I want a third novel to edit when I'm not even done with the first two?

Part of me says, "Sure!"  After all, I have an outline ready to go and a story I've been mulling over for the better part of three months.  I'm excited to write it, and without the deadline, I'm not sure when I'll finish.  A procrastinator from way back, I always find something else to that requires my attention.  This story could sit in my head indefinitely as I complete my daily mother-wife-self tasks.  And then there are the short stories that pop in my head which offer a much quicker satisfaction than the long, grueling novel process.  Why wouldn't I knock this novel out and then keep it on the shelf until I can get to editing it?

The sane part of me asks, "Are you crazy?"  NaNo takes a lot out of you.  It's almost like the rest of your life comes to a stop while you type and type and type, hoping to hit at least 1700 words each day.  While you're characters are running amok on the page, your children are doing the same in your house and your spouse is counting down the days until December.   

What's a girl to do?

Even as I'm writing this, I've changed my mind twice.  NaNoWriMo is not for the faint of heart, but can be a very fulfilling endeavor should you see your challenge through to the end.  I guess I'll know my answer on November 1st.  Good luck to all those participating!  Maybe I'll see you at the finish line?