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Podcast Transcript: Hi, genuine writers! This is Innovative Editing’s Jeannette DiLouie welcoming you to episode #32 of The Genuine Writer Podcast. We keep things short, sweet and to the point here so that you can learn what you need to learn and get back to writing already.
Today’s episode – which is jumping forward a month or two to discuss the ever-challenging National Novel Writing Month – is sponsored by Book 1 of the Writing Your Novel series… Start Your Story: How to Get Your Novel Manuscript on the Move! This fast-guide booklet gets you to a genuine starting line for your story-writing journey, explaining what you’ll need to reach your destination. Which, of course, is a published work. It will help you understand what you’re doing by offering intuition about you and your particular writing style.
It’s just $1.99 on Amazon right now, and I’ll be sure to include a link for it in the description section below.
I’m actually featuring it this time around because we’re focusing on National Novel Writing Month, which is held every November. Again, I know this is a bit early considering that it’s only the very beginning of September. But being aware of what you’re getting into before you get into it is rarely a bad idea.
For those of you who don’t know exactly what National Novel Writing Month is, let me explain. Fondly or loathingly known as NaNoWriMo or NaNo, this event encourages novelist hopefuls to write a full 50,000 words between 12:00 a.m. on November 1 and 11:59 p.m. on November 30. They call it writing a whole novel, but there’s two problems with that depiction. 1) a novel by today’s standards is more than 50,000 words. And 2) Even if we’re going to go really easy on publishing word counts, what you can accomplish according to NaNo rules is still just a manuscript. And the first draft of a manuscript at that.
Semantics, right? Stop spoiling the fun of NaNoWriMo? Maybe. But if they get to choose one of the stupidest months of the year to write a full 50,000 words around the start of the official American holiday season, then I get to mock them for being utterly inaccurate in how they advertise themselves.
I’m sure it’s obvious by now that I’m more than willing to bash National Novel Writing Month. There are so many things to complain about it, including its very premise of writing 50,000 words in a single month. I could do that easily enough when my job consisted of sitting in my chair doing next to nothing other than eating bonbons all day. And yeah, really, that was my job for a while there. It’s not nearly as awesome as it might sound. Far from it. Except during NaNoWriMo.
Now that I’m running my own business, I will admit to missing those days a bit every November. Because, let me tell you, if you’re not working a dead-end job where you have nothing to do all day, NaNo is a pain in the you-know-what. It’s also an utter aggravation if you have a significant other. And/or have children. And/or have a life.
Even if all you really have is a pet, you might be in trouble. Well, maybe not a cat. And you could probably keep a goldfish and still survive. But a dog is definitely going to get in the way of writing.
I say all this because National Novel Writing Month really is the epitome of chaotic. Plus, it might turn out to be a giant waste of your month, which we’ll discuss next week. At the same time, it might be worth doing for the following five reasons:
It’s motivation to actually start the story that’s been burning a hole into your brain. You know very well that, any other month, you would find dozens of excuses to not start your story, even if it’s just that you want to watch a new show. The craziness of NaNoWriMo shoves all those unnecessary distractions (and admittedly some of the necessary ones too) into the garbage can with a “Too bad! Write anyway!” And so that’s what you do: You write anyway, getting down thousands of words that you otherwise wouldn’t have.
It’s motivation to keep writing instead of stopping to edit. I suppose that this one could technically be Reason 1.5. But it does take a different tack to it, which is why I feel pretty comfortable giving it its own spot. With this one, I’m talking about the kind of distraction that makes you go back and analyze everything you’ve just written in the last chapter. As I’ve talked about before, people can get caught up in this vortex for days and days, weeks and weeks, or worse: a whole entire lifetime. They’re so obsessed with making sure that their first or last-written chapter works perfectly that they never write anything else. Admittedly, NaNo doesn’t completely eliminate that problem. After November is over, participants are more than free to go back and edit their 50,000 words instead of continuing on with their remaining 20,000, 30,000 or 60,000. But when you’re on that much of a roll already? Naturally, there’s a much better chance of maintaining that momentum. So think about it: If you’re the type of person who fixates on your first chapter, constantly trying to rework it instead of turning to Chapter 2… NaNoWriMo might be your saving grace.
It’s motivation to finish working on that story that’s been burning a hole into your brain. For those of you NaNo experts, yeah, I know it’s supposed to involve starting a whole new story. I’m not trying to rewrite the rules and claim otherwise. All I’m saying is that there’s a very good chance you’re going to fail miserably in reaching that 50,000-word goal. More than likely, you’re going to finish the month with 20,000 words down or 30,000 words down. Even so, that’s still pages and pages and pages written, which should prompt you to keep writing right up until “The End” when you’ve already come so far.
It’s an opportunity to get together with fellow writers for further encouragement. NaNoWriMo only comes once a year, clearly. But it can create writing relationships that last a lot longer than that. Go looking for a National Novel Writing Month group to encourage you during the not-nearly-long-enough 30-day stretch. You might find your new best writing friend in the process: one who can hold your hand when you’re sobbing over writer’s block… who can tell you to slow down and breathe when you get a little too into your story (outside of NaNoWriMo, of course)… and who can act as your beta reader after you’ve edited the whole kit and caboodle a few times over.
It’s a chance to get your crazy out. We creative writers are naturally a little bit insane. We have to be in order to make up the worlds we do, the characters that we do, and the plots that we do. No matter how realistic our stories are, they’re still going to ultimately be unreality: things that have not happened and never will happen because they involve characters that never have and never will exist. That’s what “fiction” means. Ipso facto, we writers live part of our lives in unreality: in crazy town, you could say. Well, NaNo lets us get a lot of that crazy out in a month’s time, giving us the insanity-fueled fix that we need so we can then go into the reality of December without constantly feeling that pull back to first-class fabrications. We’ll be a bit sick of that insanity by the end of the month, in fact, which is perfect since we’ll have shopping lists and piles of to-dos to accomplish before the end of the year.
Alrighty, writers. That’s it! Those are the only reasons I can think of why you would ever want to do National Novel Writing Month. So thanks as always for tuning into The Genuine Writer Podcast. It was great having you here, and I’ll catch you again next time!