Tuesday, November 02, 2010

National Novel Writing Month: Dispatches from My Living Room #3

--by Hanje Richards

As I write this [on Sunday afternoon], National Novel Writing Month (aka Midnight) is about eight hours away. I am excited, nervous, and wondering why, indeed, I am doing this to myself.

This week, I read No Plot? No Problem by Chis Baty (the founder of National Novel Writing Month, aka "NaNoWriMo"), which both terrified me and excited me. He had some wonderful hints, some of which I will share with you. He also warns about the cycles that one goes through during the 30 days and, of course, he speaks from personal experience, as well as the experience of thousands upon thousands of other NaNoWriMo participants over the years.

I have received encouraging emails from the NaNoWriMo organization and from my Elsewhere, Arizona, Municipal Liason... some of which I will also be sharing here.

If you have not decided if you want to participate in this madness, I would suggest that you still have time to decide, even if you are in a time zone that is already experiencing November [and it actually started here in Arizona about 24 hours ago]. I haven’t heard any actual statistics, but I am guessing that if you decide to participate within the first three or four days, it is still entirely possible to catch up and your chances of finishing are very close to the same as those who begin typing at 12:01 a.m. on November 1.

The NaNoWriMo organization has set up forums and chat rooms and all sorts of aids, most of which I have not yet spent much time exploring. I expect they will be welcome distractions as the days pass.

If you have decided to write a novel this month, when you sign up at
www.nanowrimo.org , set your home region and your time zone. You can also fill in other information about yourself, your reading tastes, what you do when you are not noveling, the genre and title of the novel you are writing and of course, you can upload a picture.

All of that behind me now -- or in process -- I have been trying to clear the decks as much as possible, because quite honestly, I have no idea what it is like to write every day or more specifically to write 1,667 words every day for 30 days. Needless to say, I will still be going to work and church and various other commitments, but I am not taking on much extra, beyond, “Oh, yeah, I am kind of busy right now. I am writing a novel in 30 days.”

The first video pep talk on
www.NaNoWriMo.org was posted November 1; watch it, and then write your first 1,667 words. You can also update your word count in the box in the top right-hand corner of the NaNo website (or, of course, in your Author Profile.)

Eat. Sleep. Repeat 29 times.

Nim, my Elsewhere, Arizona Municipal Liaison, reminds us to: have a comfy, quiet writing place, room on your hard drive (or notebook) for a 50,000 word work of art, munchies and most importantly… Coffee! Whatever you need to do to make yourself feel free to write, write, write in November, now’s the time to do it.

-- I am not a coffee person, but I have laid in a supply of Dover Sugar Free Chocolate, water, ice cubes, and lemon. I am a napper, so I'll probably power nap when energy is low. I have also set a few standards for the month to increase my ability to rest and decrease my stress level. For me, I must have clean sheets at least once a week, no matter how bad things get, so I have started on this eve of NaNoWriMo with a set of clean sheets on the bed and another set just washed.

-- I have had problems with my right wrist in the past when I have typed a lot, so have unearthed my wrist brace, just in case. I also have Advil available for headaches and aches of any kind.

-- I have started a list of books that I want to read when November is over, and I have lots of comfy writing clothes in my dresser, including socks, leggings, sweaters, soft cotton shirts and lots of layers for various types of weather.

-- I have been having rushes of ideas, and although I have not been a good example of writing those ideas down, I am hoping that they continue to come when I apply fingertips to keyboard and that I will not have forgotten some of the best ones that I have had already. (And I hope I don’t have to get into the bathtub every time I need to have an idea; our water heater may not be able to take that!)

Now I will share a little bit from the beginning of the first chapter of No Plot? No Problem from Chris Baty, our fearless founder.

Mr. Baty says: “Deadlines bring focus, forcing us to make time for the achievements we would otherwise postpone, encouraging us to reach beyond our conservative estimates of what we think possible, helping us to wrench victory from the jaws of sleep.”

He then talks about something that I am hoping this experience will teach me about, and that is what he calls “exuberant imperfection.” He says, “Exuberant imperfection encourages you to write uncritically, to experiment, to break your time-honored rules of writing just to see what happens… Stay loose and flexible, and keep your expectations very very low.”

A reminder for those of you in the Bisbee area who have decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, or for those who are still on the fence: You are invited to participate in our first NaNoCon Circle at the Copper Queen Library from 10-11:30am every Tuesday morning in November. The Circle offers an opportunity to share NaNo experiences – both good and bad – with other participants.
The library is also offering Quiet Write time in the Meeting Room 16.5 hours each week in November. Check our Facebook page for further details.