Saturday, October 31, 2009

NaNoWriMo - Pre-game

WHY, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE. That's what this post is about.

Why: A friend of mine was asking herself this question today. She was going to participate in NaNo this year but today began to question whether she really wanted to spend her time this way. She questioned whether her time could be spent in ways that were more fulfilling to her. I think that's an important question that everyone should be asking themselves today. There's
this idea in the writing world that there are two types of writers: The types that do it for fun and the types that do it for money. I don't think that's true though. Sure, some writers sell stuff, but if writing isn't fun for you, whether you're getting paid or not, then why do it?

So why am I doing it? First and foremost because I love writing. But mostly because this is like a marathon. I know I can write a book, but this is like an endurance test. I have something to prove to myself.

What: The all important what. Having figured out why I'm doing this, the second most important question is: What am I going to write? I'm going to write a middle grade novel that I've been thinking about for some months now. I'm not a crazy outliner. I admire those types, but for UNDO BUTTON I only really know two things for sure: how the story begins and how it ends. To some people, that may sound like a lot, but it's really not. There's that whole middle section--how my characters get from the beginning to the end--that I have to worry about. I have some ideas...lots of ideas actually...but most of the time my best laid plans go out the window when I'm in the thick of things. And that's kind of the fun part.

When: After the what is the when. When am I going to write an 80,000 word novel in 30 days. Because that's about the size of the book I'm envisioning. I've already done a great job of carving out 4 days a week that I'm able to work uninterrupted for 3-4 hours. But I need more. So for this month I'm going to put aside television (for real this time--no cheating!!), books waiting to be read, and most everything, and just focus on the writing. I know that sitting in a chair for most of my waking hours won't fly. I'd be writing my book in dirty limerick by day five, so I'm going to take frequent breaks to exercise. I have my elliptical here at home and my
knee is feeling good enough again that I'm going to get back on track with running. So that's it. For the next month my schedule will revolve around doing 4 things: work, writing, exercising, and sleeping.

Where: Well that's actually the easy part. I think I often get too tied to ritual. In my old apartment, I could only write outside in the fresh air. In my new apartment, I only write
inside at my desk. I enjoy coffee shops, but lugging my laptop is a pain. I have a 15" Macbook Pro, and it's a heavy beast. Plus, the battery life stinks and finding a seat next to an outlet is usually nigh impossible. But this month I'm unshackling myself from ritual. I'm going to write whenever and wherever I have a few free seconds. To that end, I hacked a Dell Mini 10v to run OS X. Best move I ever made. The thing is tiny, light, and I've equipped it as just a writing computer. It's got no games, not extraneous applications. Just Word, access to my cloud where I keep my documents, and a good writing mix. The keyboard is a touch smaller than what I'm used to, but I've typed this on it with no problem.

So those are my W's. And since everyone approaches writing differently, I'm curious to hear about your W's. Even if you're not doing NaNo, I'd love to hear why those of you who write, do it and what your other W's are.

Also, my demon dog says to have a happy Halloween!


  1. Why: Because I've done this the last 5 years and I don't want to stop now.

    What: This is a spinoff/rewrite of my 2007 attempt.

    When: Every day, I hope! At least for a few hundred words. No procrastinating till the last week for me this year.

    Where: I also have an ultra portable computer, my eeePC with Linux. I'm bringing it with me everywhere this month and will have no excuses not to write.

    Good luck to you! 80K is a lot. I've never tried that. I just want to get into a real habit this time around.

  2. And good luck to you! Getting into a habit is the hardest part. The funny thing is that now that I've been doing it for long enough, I can't imagine not doing it. Even when I don't have a project that I'm necessarily working on, I dust off something old and write a chapter of it, or I write a chapter of an imaginary book that I haven't even though about yet. For me, that's the key....sticking to the routine.


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