Over-caffeinated novel writing is fun

Isabel Johnson

Fifty thousand words in 30 days is an overwhelming task. There’s no time to edit, or wring your hands over the plot. You just have to sit down and write. 1666.6666 words a day. National Novel Writing Month is underway.
According to its website (www.nanowrimo.org) NaNoWriMo was founded in 1999 by writer Chris Baty and “20 other overcaffeinated yahoos.” Last year there were 200,500 participants and 37,500 winners; in 1999 there were 21 participants and six winners. The event grew from more than 100 participants the second year to 5,000 the third.
Winning NaNoWriMo is only a matter of completing the 50,000 words and then at the end of November submitting it for word count verification. Until the end, you enter your daily word total on the website without verification.
If I can actually do it, that’d be amazing. I’m normally the kind of writer who edits and rewrites as I’m writing, so every chapter is hours of work. Strangely, that isn’t my problem in journalism. Hopefully I’ll be able to apply my just-get-it-over-with attitude about articles to my novel writing.
Across the nation, writers are pounding out word after word, or huddled in a fetal position crying. The challenge to write a full novel in one month seems unbearably daunting, yet awesome at the same time. If I can do this, I should be able to do anything. It helps that I’m determined to vanquish my friends.
I’m sure this could count as therapeutic for me. I’m a master of procrastination and the last time a finished a fictional story that was more than a couple thousand words long was when I was 16. The obnoxious thing is I have at least a dozen ideas for books in my head that would be really cool. If only I could get them out on paper (or monitor as I write on computers).
Creating a world in my own mind with living characters that struggle and triumph and sometimes die is one of my favorite pastimes. As long as I can remember, I’ve been making up stories in my head. Unfortunately, they never seem to live up to my imaginings when I try to write them out, and then I’m discouraged and give up.
NaNoWriMo is the perfect opportunity to get these insufferable characters and their stories to shut the hell up by sticking them somewhere other than my head. Instead of worrying about sentence structure and plot holes, I’ll be worrying about writing as much as I can as fast as I can. There won’t be time to verify that everybody has a fully formed, neat little back story and that everything in the world’s geography actually makes sense. I won’t worry about sounding intelligent or like I know what the hell I’m doing, because I just want to finish.
Maybe I’ll actually hit 50K words by the end of the month. Maybe I won’t. Hopefully I’ll at least get close, and the story that I write will be worth finishing, even if I don’t finish in time to win NaNoWriMo.