The writers among this blog's readership likely already know about NaNoWriMo. For the rest of you, that's National Novel Writing Month--a group exercise in madness, now in its tenth year, wherein people around the world try to draft novels of at least 50,000 words during the month of November.
I've been aware of NaNo for at least five years, but I haven't signed up for it before because technically you're supposed to start a new novel from scratch on November 1. I've never happened to finish a manuscript in September or October, hence no NaNo. I'm not the type to stop mid-draft on one book to work on another.
And I'm in mid-manuscript now--17,000 words into my rewrite of Invasion, a rewrite so radical I'm using maybe 10% of the scenes from the first draft, tops. So instead of using NaNo to write 50K words on a new story, I'm going to try to add that much to the WIP.
It's ambitious, and I may not get there. It also seems counterintuitive to everything I've learned of late about not pushing myself too hard or killing myself over artificial deadlines. And if I'm stressed beyond belief a week in, I can and will quit. I already know I can finish a manuscript; that won't change if NaNo turns out to be wrong for me.
But I want to try. I think I need to test myself a bit, get my competitive juices flowing. I want to see if I can find ways to write faster. Maybe close my browser window when I open Word, for starters. I can always make a note to go back later to check the OED to see if some word is an anachronism, or to look up the exact date of some event in my protagonist's backstory. Because, let's face it, I spend less time in the OED or on wikipedia than I do obsessively checking Gmail every time the new message indicator appears. And maybe I don't always have to wait till my daughter is asleep to write. Not that I want to give her less attention, but when she's playing happily and quietly or watching TV, why not write a few paragraphs? And why not use my lunch hour at work for something other than obsessively checking political blogs? (At least after Nov. 4!)
Above all, I want to plunge into the story and out of my own head games--the usual doubt demons I think most writers have to some degree or other. I want to write with passion. So on the stroke of midnight, I'm going to write a couple of pages before I go to bed. When I wake up, instead of spending an hour cycling through political blogs, I'll write some more. And we'll see how it goes from there...