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Thursday
Nov012012

NaNoToons, NaNoWriMo & Nanomusical...plus why I'm a NaNoRebel this year

Starting today and throughout November, Errol and I are collaborating on daily comics about NaNoWriMo at http://nanotoons.net. You can also follow the comics on our NaNoToons Facebook Page.

Errol's doing NaNoWriMo, of course. I won't be participating in NaNo this year except as a NaNoRebel. If I had finished my outline for my novel, I would be so doing NaNoWriMo. And I -have- done NaNo without an outline before.

This year, however, I just have too much going on and also will be away for a chunk of November.

In the past, I've found NaNoWriMo a great motivational challenge in terms of getting me writing. Nowadays, though, I find I already HAVE that motivation -- my main challenge is more efficient time management. I still believe that NaNoWriMo can be a fun and useful event for aspiring writers as well as experienced writers, given the right mindset and situation.

 

Source: nanotoons.net via Debbie on Pinterest

 

For aspiring writers, NaNoWriMo can be a much-needed motivational kick in the pants, and a chance to prove themselves that they can write a novel-length manuscript. I've heard several pro writers who say that NaNo helped get them to finish their first novel. The key, I think, is to remember that the 50,000 words you write in November is a FIRST DRAFT. Don't make the mistake of thinking you've written a finished manuscript and DO NOT immediately send it off to agents and editors.

You will be doing yourself a great disservice by sending out a mss that you have bashed out in 30 days for the following reasons:

1. Your novel is not nearly polished enough for submission, no matter how pumped up you are about finishing it.

2. Editors and agents are likely already being inundated with naive NaNoNewbie novel submissions in the months just after NaNoWriMo.

3. If you are an unpublished writer sending out your first draft of a NaNoWriMo novel, there is a 99.99% chance (ok, I can't prove that but I still am confident that my stats are accurate) that you will be rejected.

My advice for NaNoNewbies who are writing their novels with hopes of eventual publication: let your novel sit for at least a few weeks before looking at it again. Then start proofreading, editing, polishing. Work on your craft. Study the industry. DO THE WORK.

For more experienced writers who like online communities, NaNoWriMo can be a fun way to work on your first draft of a novel that you've done prep for: an outline, character studies, etc.  Why fun? Because you can commiserate with other NaNoWriMo participants as you're writing. The atmosphere can be compared to writing to a deadline in the same room as other writers working to a deadline.

 

Source: pinerly.com via Debbie on Pinterest

 

You could also share your writing tips with other NaNotypes on your blog -- this will not only attract traffic this year but add permanent search-friendly content to your site. In 2011, there were over 250,000 NaNoWriMo participants and chances are excellent that numbers will go up this year. 

But in the end, NaNoWriMo is not for everyone.

 

Source: nanotoons.net via Debbie on Pinterest

 

I've seen a number of posts out there from pro writers who bitterly rail against the event, saying it's a waste of time. I believe that NaNoWriMo can be fun and useful for writers of all levels of experience, but it depends on each individual's mindset and motivation.

And if NaNoWriMo isn't your cup of tea or you don't need these kinds of motivational challenges to write, that's fine. Cheer on other writers and then go back to your work. :-)

If you'd like an ongoing writing challenge but don't have the time for NaNoWriMo, you could try my 250, 500 and 1000 Words/Day Challenge.

And speaking of NaNoWriMo, the first episode of the 6-part Web series NANOMUSICAL is now online! You can see me as a dancing extra (yes, I said dancing) in this episode, too:

Reader Comments (1)

I agree with what you say about first-time writers coming into NaNo and writing their first novel, and I want to add on it. This is for you, first-timers!

See, saying "Don't publish your first novel when you've written it!" sounds harsh. It sounds as if we're doubting you, calling you inadequate. In fact, when we -- or at least, I -- say this, we're not saying that you're a rubbish writer, that your plot is rubbish, or that your style is rubbish. You may be a great writer with a brilliant idea and a flowing style. Awesome!

We're not saying that you're not a good writer. We're saying that you haven't matured yet.

That sounds even worse, so I'll elaborate; say you have a child, and the child draws a picture of an elephant. He's very proud of it, and he should be; it has the big ears, the trunk, and even the correct amount of legs. You don't think he's a rubbish artist at all, yet at the same time you would ask him to reconsider when he starts prepping cover letters to local art galleries. It's just that he has yet to find his way, hone his skills and find his method of doing things.

I was a first-timer last year. I wrote a story called Space Boy and his Equally Spacey Dog, and I was proud of it. It also sparked a writing desire within me, and for an entire year I strived to write 1k words every day, at the minimum. I managed to get about 3 novels and 25 short stories done in that time, and my style matured as a result. When I look back at Space Boy now, I can't say it's an awful story. It's just one I wrote when I was still tinkering with this 'writing' thing.

Go ahead and win NaNo. Write your first story, and be proud of it. Do so! Be very proud of your efforts. How many people do you walk by on a daily basis that have written a novel? Probably enough to fit on your sofa for a cup of tea. What you've done is amazing, and you should be very happy.

Before you hit the Send button on the email directed to every agent and editor you know, however, take some time to get the most out of your writing. Write another novel. Write short stories. Write for a magazine. Write for your friends or family. Write for yourself. Find the essence that drove you to write your NaNo novel and dive head-first in it. Was it the humour that got you started, or did the dark and mysterious tone of your story drive you to 50k? Find that raw essence and fill yourself with it to bursting point. Find recommendations for authors who write in the style you love and stay up to ungodly hours in the morning reading them with sore eyes and a dread of the alarm clock the next day. In short, love your new talent. Cuddle it, squeeze it and make it the best it can be. Then when you're more experienced, with scores of stories under your belt and scores more read from authors that you love, you'll revisit your NaNo story and think "Man. That was a load of fun. Let's tidy it up and get it out there". Which is exactly the position I have right now with Space Boy!

And always remember; first drafts are meant to be bad. Never abandon a story just because a scene you had planned didn't come out right first time. Allow yourself to write a sub-par story, with the promise that one day, you'll come back and make it shine as bright as your inspiration.

Well, what are you waiting for? I hope you've hit today's target, because you've already spent a few minutes reading this. Hop to your manuscript and get 'er done!

November 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterS.E. Batt

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