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I’m not a fiction writer.  As you may be able to tell from this blog, the stuff I write is non-fiction.  I like to write travel tales, memoir, poetry, essays.  I think if I have to pigeonhole myself into a category, I’d call myself an essayist.  It covers a lot of ground. 

I had heard about NaNoWriMo – which, if you don’t know, is National Novel Writing Month – a few years ago from Kelsea’s school.  I think there was a “junior” version which the TAG (Talented and Gifted) kids were encouraged to do.  Kelsea’s been at work on her own novel for a couple of years now, so the program wasn’t quite for her.  She’s happy with her progress, and seems to know what she’s doing.

But due to some flicker of madness that crossed my mind a few days ago, I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo this year.  In NaNoWriMo, you make a committment to yourself to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.  Over 165,000 people participated last year.  You start on November 1, crank it out, and upload it by November 30 to “win”.  Winning really means that you DID IT!  A lot of people say they are working on a novel – and say it for years and years – but few ever actually complete one.  This is about quantity, not quality.  The editing comes later. 

Since I don’t write fiction, this project feels like a real challenge – but I felt like challenging myself.  I’ve now got 2 ideas, both in very abridged outline format, and I have 5 days to choose one, think about my characters, and sharpen my pencils. 

It seems (now) very doable to write 1700 words a day.  We’ll see how it feels when I’m a week into it and floundering.  The NaNoWriMo people give you a few tips:

“Tell everyone what you are about to do. The more people who know what you’re up to this November, the less likely you are to slink away from victory in a rare moment of exhaustion or doubt. Friends, neighbors, family, pets, coworkers, civil servants, and strangers—tell ’em all!”  —  OK, via this blog, I’ve just told a whole bunch of people what I’m doing.

“Bargain with those around you. Suggest to your housemates that if they take care of chores during November, you’ll cover the following two months. Make sure you’re not signed up for soccer game snack-duty, volunteering in the neighborhood—any helpful or productive task that isn’t writing your novel—until November is past.”  —  This one?  I live alone.  No bargaining possible.  And I’m not missing Kelsea’s basketball games.  We’ll just have to make it work.

“Incentivize success! To reach 50,000 words in November, treats work well but the threat of awful tasks works better. Tell your neighbors that if you don’t reach your word-count goal, you’ll mow their lawns for a month. Promise your boss that you’ll work one Saturday for every thousand words you fall short of the 50,000-word mark. (For my part, I’ve already pledged to buy Chris Baty a coffee for every day that I don’t reach 1,667 words.)”  —  If you have any suggestions for negative incentives, let me know.

“Put away the time-wasters. On November’s eve, unplug the cable box and ask your roommate to hide the cord. Give World of Warcraft to your friend for the month. Lock your remote control in a safe and give away the key. You’ll thank yourself come November 30!”   —  The cable box isn’t going anywhere.  But I have committed to not going online each day until I have completed my 1700 words, since I know I’m most productive in the mornings.

More details about all things NaNoWriMo can be found at http://www.nanowrimo.org/.

There are groups all over the place in the Boulder/Denver area – people who are planning to get together to write their hearts out in one another’s presence.  I don’t think that will be me, but I will use this as an opportunity to find new places to write – coffeeshops, libraries, who knows?  I’ll find places and it will be fun!

Since I got my first rejection email the other day (which is actually a yippee – other rejections have just been silence), I feel like I need something to give me some confidence with my writing – this should help.

Wish me luck!

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