If you work backwards from November 30th, it looks something, in the United States, anyway, like this:
1. Shopping and getting ready for The Holidays (Chanukah begins on December 8th, Christmas, of course on December 25th, and there’s Christmas Eve, First Day of Winter, etc.)
2. Thanksgiving – where to go, what to eat.
3. Planning for Thanksgiving, especially if you are putting on the Feast.
4. Various birthdays.
5. Veteran’s Day.
6. Election Day.
7. The end of Daylight Savings Time.
8. All Souls’ Day.
9. All Saints’ Day.
10. The commencement of NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo.
OK, cover up The List. No need to feel overwhelmed. Yet. Without The List, the month still feels new. Let’s just look at #10, pertinent to writers.
NaNoWriMo, more formally called National Novel Writing Month, asks participants to sign up and spend the 30 days of November writing a 50,000-word (or more) novel. There are prizes and recognition and opportunities to meet and network with other writers – items that are in short supply for most writers, not to mention the fact that you end up with (the first draft of) your very own novel.
So, let’s do the math. If we divide 50,000 total words by 30 days, we must write 1,667 words per day. At 250 words per page, that is a mere 6 2/3 pages per day. I have friends who have done this – written every day, more or less hitting the proper number of words per day, resulting in a 50,000+ word novel.
A friend of mine from the Other Coast, Pat, and I have been brainstorming novels (and screenplays for that matter) together since at least 1997. Sometimes, it works like this: one of us might have seen a news item, say, that there are continent-sized waste-plastic masses in the ocean that fish ingest, and the other one is off and running. “What if, by 2020, all the fish in the Pacific had swallowed waste-microchips from old computers, and someone could send signals to them. Eventually, vegans would be the only sentient beings able to make up their own mind….” Then we think of who could play the lead vegan, and –
Since 1997, we have not completed any of these projects. Pat has, however, completed NaNoWriMo. She’s participating again this year, and invited me along.
It’s almost the end of the year and, in a future post, I will talk about some of the creative projects that I have begun – some only written, some purely visual, some a mix of both – and that are – er – in progress.
Now, let’s do the real math of NaNoWriMo, the multi-role-writer math. Go back to The List. Subtract 10 days from 30. Now, I know some of you might grumble that All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day do not demand much time away from a computer (including iPads and smart phones), word processor, pen and paper, or (gasp) typewriter, but birthdays and Thanksgiving prep alone (for those of us who must, or who choose to cook and present the feast) make up for that – and more. That leaves 20 days for 50,000 words. Thanksgiving weekend is also shot for those of us who visit the relatives that we didn’t get a chance to see on Turkey Day. Hence, 20-3=17. Let’s be optimistic and leave it at that. That means 50,000 divided by 17. Two thousand, nine hundred, forty-two words per working day, or about 11 ¾ pages.
I love writing. I can even see the possibility that, under the right circumstances, 11 ¾ pages per day might not be prohibitive, particularly if you have a strong outline from which to work before you start (totally permitted under NaNoWriMo rules). But not this year.
I have two other written projects, nonfiction, that I MUST write before undertaking something more speculative, more frivolous.
But what of the camaraderie? The prizes? The sense of accomplishment? The forming of a new, good habit?
In this, I am inspired by friend and fellow writer, MaryBeth Coudal, who has committed to NaBloPoMo, National Blog Post Month. Prizes and kudos go to those who blog at least once a day – and a post need not contain words! A photo or image or video will suffice! The theme is blogging for blogging’s sake, but even this prompt can be ignored by participants. NaBloPoMo seems a low-barrier way to connect to a (predominantly) writers’ and artists’ community, perhaps score some recognition and prizes, work on developing a good, daily habit, and be part of an effort larger than oneself.