Deadlines, Deadlines

November is approaching fast, and in the writing community that means NaNoWriMo is also approaching fast. What is NaNoWriMo? In a nutshell, it is a one-month challenge to write a complete novel. It is a great opportunity for writers who have day jobs other than writing to focus on a novel project. The definition of a novel, for the purposes of NaNoWriMo, is 50,000 words. While this may seem short for a novel if you expect 60,000 or 80,000 words or more (The Hobbit is about 95,000 words), it is a reasonable goal within the lower range of novel length fiction. For example, the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) specifies that a novel is 40,000 words or more for the purposes of its Nebula Award. My novel, Lesson One: Revolution!, was written for NaNoWriMo and it is approximately 52,000 words. If you have ever said to yourself, "I'm going to write a book someday," but you have never done it, I encourage you to sign up for NaNoWriMo. It doesn't cost anything other than time. Of course, it costs a lot of that! However, you might be surprised at how much time you can set aside for writing when you set your mind to it.

You might wonder what the big deal is about signing up to write a book in a month. NaNoWriMo offers a number of elements that actually help you achieve your goal. First, of course, there is just the positive impact of setting a measurable goal. More than that, however, NaNoWriMo gives you the sense that you are joining with thousands of other writers around the globe toward the same goal. Each writer works on his or her own project, but everybody is striving for that 50,000 word mark. This notion of "shared agony" can actually help you when you're starting to get down about whether or not you can complete your project on time. The pep talks don't hurt either, and they arrive with enough regularity to keep you moving forward on your novel. There are also "write-ins" and other in-person events that help maintain a community feel to the project.

Although I have not decided on what I am going to write, I do plan on participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I participated in 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010, and reached 50,000 words on time each time. This year I am giving myself the additional challenge of using new tools, specifically Celtx and Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I have not been doing as much practice with either one as I had hoped, and I know that sometimes poor recognition can cause Dragon NaturallySpeaking to be a frustrating tool, but at other times (like this morning) recognition is going well and it is looking more hopeful. (Ironically, in that last sentence, Dragon initially put "because" instead of "can cause" -- apt timing for a recognition error!) The NaNoWriMo site has been relaunched for the year, as they do every year. This time they are using a different framework, so I'm looking forward to learning about the changes. I logged in to my account this morning, for the first time since the change. Some pieces are missing (e.g., the Word Count API) and I hope they are in place before November begins.

Will you join me in NaNoWriMo by tackling your own book project? If you are an aspiring writer, I hope so! If not, however, I welcome you to keep tabs on my progress via this blog. If you'd like to support the nonprofit organization that runs NaNoWriMo, and also give me added motivation to complete the project on time, I will be looking for sponsors once NaNoWriMo begins. I know that has helped me in the past when I have started feeling like abandoning a project. To all my fellow NaNoWriMo writers: Good luck this year!


About the Author
Stuart J. Whitmore is an author of fiction and nonfiction, as well as a photographer, technology developer, and more. If you enjoy reading his blog posts, you might also enjoy reading his books. Take a look at the books by Stuart J. Whitmore today, and download your copy of one that looks interesting to you!