NaNoWriMo ploughs ahead

The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it is vital not to stop. Industrious bods who write every single day need only bash out 1,667 words a pop in order to reach their 50,000 by the end of the month. Lazy people who get sidetracked, on the other hand, have a harder time of it: their wordcount goal creeps up and up by the day until they write themselves — or, rather, fail to write themselves — into an untenable situation, and are forced to either give up in ignominy or chuck a sickie and do 18,000 words on the last day of November.

Neither of these is an option that Betty will have the liberty of taking, and consequently Betty has been forced to repent of her previous ways and start writing in good earnest. Fortunately, she has one more week of the cushy cable-watching job, which takes care of writing time on Mondays and Tuesdays; Wednesday nights has been free for the past two weeks, due to the rest of the student group having exams, and so Betty has managed to hunker down in the Borders cafe with a sizable array of other November novelists, which is terribly good for the wordcount; Thursdays afford a certain amount of time between leaving the studio and starting at the third job, which also has some free time built into it, hence all the blogging. Fridays are a little tricky. Tomorrow will include a lateish client, which will mean that writing will only start in the middle of the afternoon. The weekend involves the third job, and plenty of time between client visits and non-clinical notes.

For the readers’ amusement, Betty will hereby enclose the official NaNoWriMo graph widget as of this morning. The red bars indicate absolute slothfulness; the green bits are writing; and the grey bits are writing that actually fulfilled the wordcount. Note that the red bits get added to the wordcount goals in the future. Note also, in case any reader is alarmed, that the wordcount at the time of posting is 19,034, which means that the end is in sight: Betty can do it.

Kinda. I hope. Stay tuned.

NaNoWriMo is in the air

November, as all astute and diligent readers will know, is a month devoted to the frenzied penning of an original 50,000-word novel. No cheats like using the one you got a third of the way through last year, of course, though shameless padding is allowed. I’ve done two NaNos so far. In 2007 I wrote a dreadful piece of experimental literary fiction called Tasting Shadows: it was about a girl with gustatory hallucinations due to a tumour, and it was mostly blow-by-blow recipes, with cryptic passages of exposition in between. Perhaps I shall post a brief yet humiliating excerpt in a bit, as a sort of Opus Dei-type confessional ritual. Nonetheless, the thing was over 50k — in NaNoWriMo terms, a win.

2008’s goal was a manuscript that, while still inevitably cringe-worthy, could be shown to family and close friends with relative impunity. End of Summer, it was called; I read the first half in instalments to my wee sisters and mother, who were duly agog. (The boy person friend, by contrast, read a bit and decided that a taste was as good as a feast.) I reached 50k, but the novel remained almost-finished. I’ll get to it.

The trick to NaNoWriMo, unless you have sixteen free waking hours a day in which to pen a hundred and four words, is planning: rigid, bull-headed scheduling and flexibly fertile plot outlines. You need at least 1,667 words every day, more if there are days off; they can be good or not, as you like; and they must be original. It’s perfectly acceptable to plan the structure of the novel in advance, but you can’t write bits beforehand.

October, therefore, is for coming up with ideas. As the kids say now, I got nothing. Stay tuned.