Tuesday, November 1, 2011

For Those Of You About To NaNoWriMo, I SALUTE YOU!

Oh, Mes Anges, today is an EXCITING day! For it is the day that some of you may start NANOWRIO, aka That Time In November When A Whole Bunch Of People Attempt to Write a 50K Word Novel in a Month, and Lo, It Is Awesome.

I LOVE NaNoWriMo. Like, Pink Puffy Heart Love. Love ALMOST as much as I love Jon Snow.

Oh, that Jon Snow. Always saying the sweetest things...

Now saying that, I should add that, much like Jon Snow, NaNoWriMo remains undone by moi. (Bah-dum-BUMP!)

Mostly because my deadlines for the past few years have been November 1, so I've always spent the month of Thanksgiving (and my birthday and my anniversary...)frantically FINISHING a book, not starting one.

But I love it nonetheless! There's something about the spirit of NaNoWriMo I find really appealing. People are SO EXCITED! About WRITING! And for one whole month, so many more people are learning that secret that all of us who take pen to paper or fingers to keyboards know: That writing, even when it's hard, even when it sucks, even when it HURTS LIKE SOMEONE IS PULLING YOUR SOUL TEETH is the Greatest Thing In The World.

I mean, how many people get to live in TWO WORLDS ALL THE TIME? And not wear straight jackets and only be allowed to eat with spoons?

This dude cannot be trusted with forks, OBVS.

I also love that people do NaNoWriMo for all kind of different reasons. Some of you really want to become authors, and are using this month as the time to finally, finally, FINALLY write that book you've always dreamed about. And that, my lovelies, it BAD ASS. GO FORTH!

And then some of you are already published authors, using this month as a kind of "Writing Vacation," giving yourselves permission to write that book you NEVER thought you'd write. Maybe because it's not in the genre you usually work in, maybe because the idea seems too big, too crazy, whatever. This, incidentally, is what happened to my friend Chantel. She talks about it here, and guess what? That book she wrote for NaNo 2 years ago? You can buy it HERE. (And you should, because it's SO GOOD, and I want everyone to read it so that we can fight over Team Galen vs. Team Nikolas, and talk about how we love/hate Zoi. GET ON THAT.)

This? Using NaNoWriMo as a time to go crazy and write The Impossible Book? ALSO SUPER RAD. DO IT TO IT!

Maybe some of you attempting NaNo have absolutely no interest in being published. You just want to do something fun during November, something that will give you a good excuse to hide from obnoxious relatives on Thanksgiving.

"Eff OFF, Nana, I'm writing my NOVEL!"

You wanna play around with words, with ideas, with stories, and do so at a time when thousands of other people are doing the same thing. Guess what, you guys? THAT IS AMAZEBALLS! GO GO GO!

And then, of course, there are those of you who are like, "NaNo is dumb, and in no way fits the way I write. 50K words in a month would kill me dead, and all my words would be crap." And to that I say...wait for it... AWESOME! No, really! Because knowing what does and doesn't work for you as a writer is an important part of the process. And NaNo is supposed to be FUN. If it won't work for you, DON'T DO IT! And don't let anyone make you feel bad about that! Just don't poop on everyone else's fun, either, okay? Because when you're all excited about doing something, nothing makes you feel worse than having someone go, "Oh, that? It is Made of Stupid and you are Doomed to Fail."

So now that we have established that Whatever You Choose To Do During NaNoWriMo (Even If It Is Not To Do NaNoWriMo) is Super Mega Ultra Valid, let's get on to some of the finer points.

1) RACHEL! I have heard that you cannot write a good novel in one month? So, forsooth, whateth be the point?

Okay, first of all, stop yelling at me. Secondly, when a writer uses the collective "you" to talk about any part of writing or publishing, what they should really write is "I." So when someone says, "You cannot write a good book in a month," they mean, "I cannot write a good book in one month." Which is fair enough! It all depends on what kind of writer you are, what kind of book you're writing, etc. I tend to draft relatively fast because my books are more plotty and dialogue-y, and that goes more quickly. But I totally believe a good book CAN be written in a month.

2) RACHEL! This is excellent! I cannot wait to start querying agents with my 50K word draft on December 1!

I said stop yelling! And as The Husband would say, "SLOW DOWN, BUCKWHEAT ZYDECO." (I don't know why he says this, BTW. He just does. He often refers to Small Son as "Buckwheat," too, but Small Son, in his Small Son way, has misunderstood this to be "Butt Wink," and he now calls people this and gets in trouble because that is both a nonsensical AND horribly graphic insult. I digress.)

First off, most novels are longer than 50K. 50K is really closer to novella size. Yes, there are some YA books that length, and lots of MG books come in around 50K, but still. It is SHORT. For example, HEX HALL is around 63K, DEMONGLASS is like 66K, and SPELL BOUND came in near 70K. The standard length for adult novels is close to 100K.

Also, THINK about how many people dash their books out on December 1! Do you want to be part of that wave, inundating agents with books that the agents KNOW ARE NANOWRIMO BOOKS? Or do you want to spend Christmas editing your 50K words under the tree, knowing that in January or February, you'll have a much shinier, tighter, LONGER book to send out into the world?

"YES, Nana, I am STILL WORKING ON MY NOVEL! Jeez! And bring me some cocoa!"

3) RACHEL! I have done NaNoWriMo before, but when I get to around 20-30K, the book suddenly gets REALLY HARD. This means I should quit because my idea is bad, right?

Mes Anges, let me tell you something. That 20-30K stretch? It is hard FOR EVERYONE. Seriously. I'm working on my 5th book right now (FIFTH! HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?!), and I'm there, and it is only the knowledge that I have pulled four other books out of this stage that keeps me going. Otherwise, I would listen to that voice in my head that tells me, "HOLY SHIZZ, YOU HAVE FORGOTTEN HOW TO WRITE A BOOK." I hear that voice every. time, Mes Anges. You'll hear it every time, too. Soldier on!

4) RACHEL! What if I don't get to 50K words, and lo, am marked as a FAILURE?

Did you try? Did you get words onto paper, and spend several consecutive days working on one idea? Then you know what? You've already done what SO MANY PEOPLE have not. Do you know how many people talk about writing a book, but never actually WRITE? So many! But you made an attempt! you put butt in chair, and hands on keyboard or pen or iPad or whatever, and WORDS ON PAPER. You win, my friend!

So, for those of you doing NaNoWriMo this year, I hope you kick ass! I hope you write books so good that I stay up at night worrying about them. I hope you have fun. I hope you get a peek into why this is the best job in the world. I hope you don't let anyone tell you you can't do it. I hope you dance. No, wait, that's that lame country song, isn't it? Yeah, I don't hope you dance.

Shut yer face, Womack! I will dance when and if I see fit, damn it!

And without getting sappy or earnest (two things I am allergic to), know that I believe you can do it, that I love you for trying. Or for not trying! I AM VERY FREE WITH MY LOVE!

But not in the, shall we say, Amber Way.



Shelagh said...

*wipes away tears of laughter* I don't think I could have put it any better Rachel. :)

This will be my third run at the chaos and joy that is NaNoWriMo and you know what, I may not have "won" before, but it taught me I could write and that my dream may one day make it. For me that's the beauty of NaNo.

I think it rocks that you, a published author who all we book nerds look up to, thinks we have a chance.

Thanks for the enthusiasm and the smile Rachel.

The Word Fiend

Ann Marie Gamble said...

I'm not doing NaNoWriMo this year--SOB--and that is because I did it two previous years and won, so now I have TWO novels to revise! (Actually, three novels and a screenplay, so clearly it's time for me to push the revision stage of things, not the drafting.) Without NaNo it would have taken me a decade to get to that point.

Sophie said...

What a inspiring post. Made me smile and smirk. Thank you, Rachel, for telling us how it really is...

A. Knight said...

*ROFFL* Oh, my Gosh, Rachel, you convinced me to try. I thought, heck, if Rachel is taking the time out to encourage us potential authors, then I might as well effing try. No matter if I'm worried about my parents, siblings, and, of course, nana will think. I will plunge forward and try really really hard. And in good faith, I've just registered! *crosses fingers* I will succeed!

- Asher (from Paranormal Indulgence)

prerna pickett said...

thanks for the encouragement! This is my first NaNo and I'm super excited. I tend to write long novels so 50,000 words shouldn't be too hard, but in 30 days? Yeah, that's where the challenge presents itself. On a side note, can't wait for Spellbound!

LoopyWriter said...

I love your blog Rachel. I was reminded about NaNoWriMo through your blog archives and I signed up because you made it sound so awesome.

Now I have new writer friends from my area that I can talk to about it all and I've got a time limit and impetus to actually work towards finishing my novel for a change.

It's so nice to hear that successful authors still take part in it and love how much encouragement you give all us little NaNo-ers.


Jodi said...

RACHEL!! Whoops...sorry about the yelling, but I do love this post ever so earnestly much (and I mean that in a sappy way). But take a benadryl and read on...nanowrimo is only at day 1 for me and already it has worked a small miracle. I'm honest to God writing something! I'm writing something about a character I would take a bullet for (figuratively). And I feel excited and energized...and I just know that 30000 word slump is a horrible lie created by published authors to scare off the crazies (it is right? you can tell me, boo). Anyhow...thanks for being a huge piece of my puzzle (extra points if you can name the band I ripped off), and for continuing to cheerlead all of us wannabees out there. Big hugs!

Jess said...

Love this post! This is my first NaNo and I'm so excited! Thanks for the encouragement and I especially loved the Womack part. :)

Jennie Englund said...

SO GOOD to know about the word counts...I'm always stumped by it!

Yes! Go NaNoWriMo-ers!!!!

Incredible that these guys can still blog with all the NaNoWriMo-ing going on!!!

Your sister-in-agent,


smileynann said...

RACHEL!!!! You are the BEST EVER, no lies. I was having a bad day and checked out your blog again. Before I even reached the end of the FIRST page, my husband heard me LAUGHING SO HARD from the other end of the house (and that is saying something, because we try to be VERY quiet at night because of sleeping children) and came to make sure I was all right. I think your sad kitten is what really put me over the top.

There were actual tears. of joy. At the risk of using too many capitals in one comment, let me just say YOU ROCK. Thanks for the uplift!

Kirstin said...

I did NaNoWriMo last month....it was my second year. First year I was no way close to my goal. But went above and beyond this year so YAYYYY!
You're words were really inspring and true. I love your writing and personality Rachel. Your books are equally amazing. Can't wait for next blog post and book!

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Ashtyn said...

First time with NaNo and I am very excited/nervous/anxious to begin! This post just made my day and gave me so much more confidence! I'll have to bookmark it for those down and out writing days! Thank you for the word of wisdom!

Dot Hutchison said...

You make my heart so happy; thank you for that.

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