Friday, October 30, 2009

Why I NaNoWriMo


National Novel Writing Month.
The goal: write a 50,000+ word novel in 30 days.
Why do I do it? Why put myself through 30 days of hell? Well, let me tell you a little story. It was 1985. I had just graduated High School. I had already been accepted to college, but I had little to do that summer. I might have had some kind of job, but I don’t really remember. What I do remember is sitting out in the back yard and working on a grand post-apocalyptic story. In longhand (probably the last time I ever wrote a novel longhand).
I worked out mankind’s future history for the next 3000 years. At the time, the Cold War still raged, so I started with an East vs West World War set sometime around…I don’t know…2015 or so (gasp). I also predicted orbital colonies and colonies on the Moon and Mars. I did think that everyone would have these networked computers that would provide them news and information, so I wasn’t all wrong.
Anyways, by the time school arrived, my school work precluded any time for writing. Months passed, and at last I found myself at home on Winter Break with my shiny new Mac 512K. In those days, Macs were the modern equivalent of laptops…a whole computer in one box. Anyways, I decided to finish the story I had started during the summer. But unlike NaNoWriMo, I only had three weeks to write a complete novel. I literally wrote all day, from the time I got up ‘til the time I went to sleep. Then, on the final day before I had to head back, I would print the whole thing out. I repeated this the next two winters, not finding time to do writing during summer break.
I’ve looked back at that writing, and it’s crap in its purest form. But I’ve never forgotten the intense satisfaction I got from the pure creative process. Since that time, I’ve always planned to have a second career as a writer. NaNoWriMo answers the call I have to be a writer. I’ve always worked best under pressure, and watching the word counter move every day is great motivation. I want to recapture those days, except I want to produce writing that’s not pure crap.

NaNoWriMo 2009

So now on to this year’s project. The last two NaNoWriMo’s have been just for fun. I created a fictional blog and wrote the story in real time. It was a blast and I might pick it up again someday. But this year, I want NaNoWriMo to count. I’ve spent the last two months outlining a new book in a new genre (or two) that I think is totally marketable, if I can nail it. So I hereby present to you:

The Battle for New Britannia
Steampunk Romance

New England a Monarchy? Pennsylvania populated by Germans? Armies composed of airships and mechanical horses?
All Prudencia Stratton wants is to restore her family’s name by finding a nobleman to marry. When she discovers that her country is on the brink of civil war, she sides with the devious Duke who knows no boundaries on his quest for power. However, when a handsome Sky Captain sweeps her off her feet, a new civil war begins—the battle over Prudencia’s heart.
Okay, I hope that blurb isn’t too sappy. That’s the core conflict of the story, your classic love triangle. But there’s a bajillion subplots and substories and a slew of characters all waiting to be fleshed out. I’ve created an entire new history of North America, where Steam Power is the norm and electricity hasn’t become popular. If you want a longer synopsis, check out my NaNoWriMo Profile (user Iapetus999). You may have already noticed the slow conversion of my blog over to a steam-powered motif.
My goal for November is of course to hit 50,000, but my target word count is 90,000 overall. I won’t be upset if I don’t hit that larger goal by Dec. 1. I know the purpose is to write with “reckless abandon,” but I think that woks best when you don’t really know what the story’s about. In this case, I have it plotted down to individual scenes, but I’m not committing to staying within the outline. We’ll see what happens.
So now a note to my loyal blog followers as to what to expect over the next 30+ days. I’m probably not going to read a lot of blogs. I’m not going to be posting much except NaNoWriMo updates. If your blog post doesn’t contain the word “NaNoWriMo” I probably won’t read it. But if you comment on this blog, I will take the time to check yours out. I’m going to spend my free time on the NaNoWriMo forums which only seem to have life October through November then everyone disappears.
Lastly, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo, comment here and I’ll add you to my NaNoRoll on the side of this blog when I get a chance, so we can compare progress and hopefully motivate each other.
Good luck everyone, Happy Halloween, Happy NaNoWriMo, and see you on Dec. 1st!


  1. I'm not doing NaNo, but I wish you the best.

  2. All the best with NaNo. I'd love to make my ultimate word count, too, but 50,000 will be okay.

  3. We'll both be NaNo'ing our way through November and hoping to end up on December 1st with the basics of a novel worth pursuing. Happy writing, and good luck to both of us!

    Carol Garvin

  4. I think the novel sounds interesting! Best of luck with NaNo! I myself won't be participating in an official capacity.

  5. Best of luck with NaNo. Your project sound fantastic!

  6. Thanks everyone! It will be an Awesome November whether you are NaNoing or not.

  7. I *am* doing NaNo (for the 6th time). I'm looking forward to it, and hope for nothing but success for you in yours!

  8. This is my first year for NaNo. Best of luck to both of us!


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