Thursday, October 24, 2019

Dear O'Abby: Should I do NaNo?

Dear O'Abby,

As you are probably aware, NaNoWriMo starts next week.  I've thought about doing it in the past, but I'm a pretty methodical writer and I like to research and edit as I go, so I've always thought it wouldn't suit me.  

Now I'm published and on deadline for my next book, I'm wondering if doing NaNo might be a way to get this second book my publisher is expecting finished.

Should I give it a shot?

X NaNoWaRy

Dear NaNoWaRy,

NaNo isn't for everyone and it's really up to you to decide if it is for you.  Personally, I love it, but I'm a 100% pantser and have no problem at all with reaching a point where I need to research something and just leaving myself a note in red or highlighted in yellow saying "look up the Korean word for Grandma" or "do combine harvesters really work like this?".  If this kind of thing is going to drive you batty and keep you up at night because you don't feel you can keep writing until you're certain you got that detail correct, NaNo might not be for you.

NaNo is a great way to vomit up what I like to call a "zero draft".  It's not even a first draft, really.  It's a bunch of words that may one day end up as a story.  It's a way to get that story out of your head and onto the page where it can begin its life.

Some people outline and prep meticulously before NaNo begins, and I imagine they might write something closer to a first draft during the month because they know what they're going to write ahead of time and have, in some cases, outlined exactly how their book will be structured and how to fit writing 1,667 or so words a day into that structure.

If you're someone who likes to go back and read over what you wrote yesterday and polish it up, moving commas and removing extra words, NaNo might not be right for you.

But as I say, it's a personal choice.  Maybe trying something different might be good for your creativity.   And you know what?  It doesn't matter if you don't make it through the whole month.  At least you've started.  You've written something.  Those words don't disappear at the end of November when you don't "win" NaNo.  You've started your book, and that's the best way to get to the point of finishing it.

So good luck, whatever you decide to do.  I've rather stupidly signed up to do NaNo again this year, so I'll be in the trenches with you, trying to write a book that at the moment has an outline that says only, "Fifteen years after Chasing the Taillights, Lucy and Tony are still struggling with their relationship".

Let's catch up in December to see how we did.

X O'Abby

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