I have participated in an event called National Novel Writing Month, every year since 2007. I’ve “won” one time in 2008. Life seems to get in the way every year since then. But it also takes an incredible level of discipline and creativity in regards to finding the time to put 1700 words on the screen each day. There’s also that nasty villain, the editor in my brain, to contend with. Or, with whom to contend. See?
The first year, I wrote a survival story, several details of which have surprisingly come true in real life – I now have a dog named Zoey, I live in North Carolina, and a few others which are a bit personal that I don’t need to share here. That year I wrote everything in a notebook because I didn’t have a working computer. It was torture and inevitable that I would not finish.
The second year, I wrote a story about a woman who survived the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11. She suffered PTSD, amnesia, and grieve the loss of a child. The story was twisty and turn-y, and maybe some day I can go back to it to edit and make something more of it. But for now, it remains the story that “won” me NaNoWriMo for the first time.
Subsequent stories included one about a young woman on a road trip to “find herself” who ends up joining a hippie cult somewhere in California; a story about an elderly couple at the precipice of death and the paths their lives took up to this moment; a mother guiding her daughter through her impending death; and a child lost in the woods after a family camping trip who grows up and survives into manhood. They were all interesting to me at the beginning and quickly lost their appeal which led to me not completing the 50k words on time.
I’ve been a part of three different writing groups, one in Seattle, one closer to me in the Seattle area, and one in Mebane, NC. I met with these groups at different times and I can’t say enough how helpful and motivating it is to have a group of other writers, professional and amateur, to encourage, compete (light competitions – who can get the most words in 5 minutes type of competing), inspire, and advise. I miss being able to find and confer with other “WriMos”.
This year I am considering trying my brain at some historical fiction, focusing on a specific tragic event that occurred not too far from where I live. As with any author, my inner editor immediately wakes up and gets to work, even before I’ve typed the first letter. My biggest fear isn’t that I won’t get all the words down in time or that my sentences will require heavy editing for clarity or interest. My biggest fear is that I will misrepresent the actual historic people in my story thereby offending an entire community. I have to remind myself that putting in on paper for NaNoWriMo in no way commits me to publish or even share. And while there are 30 days to get the words written, there are at least 335 more days afterwards to do the editing before I need to start the next story.
For all my fellow WriMos, good luck! Look me up on the NaNoWriMo website. We have 30 days to prepare for my favorite 30 days of the year. Get to planning!