Throughout the month of November, I shall be setting out to do one of the things that would have been near the top of my Things To Do Before I’m 30 list, if I had such a list, which I don’t. From November 1st-30th, I’m going to be writing a novel. In its entirety. In one month. If blog posts become few and far between, you’ll know why.
As crazy as this undertaking may sound, I’m not alone in my madness. November is National Novel Writing Month, where everyone who has ever dreamt of writing a novel and said “One day…” is encouraged to finally sit down, set a deadline, and just write. Write and write and write towards a goal of 50,000 words. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a plot worked out, it doesn’t matter if you haven’t got a clue what the ending is, it doesn’t matter if everything you write is pure, undiluted tripe. “It’s about quantity, not quality,” says the NaNoWriMo website; the idea is that by lowering the standards, you’re more likely to go for it and get it done without spinning around in circles (as I’ve been doing for the past year or two), certain that there’s a novel in there somewhere but with no idea where to start or how to go about it, and stopping after every paragraph to review your text in an angsty, critical way that ends with you hitting delete and starting all over again.
With the NaNoWriMo project, you just write. At 50,000 words, they recognise your achievement and list you as a novelist. You’ve done it! This is precisely the sort of encouragement I need – the knowledge that I can, in fact, write an entire novel within a short period of time. That’s what I need in order to be motivated enough to start in the first place: the knowledge that I’ll be finished in a few weeks and not still flapping around in a disorganised mess 5 years later, with one chapter perfected.
Of course, it’s most likely that what you’ll end up with is 50,000 words of genuine rubbish. This does not matter. I mean, somewhere in the midst of that, a story’s bound to take shape, isn’t it? A plot is certain to materialise, characters will appear, something has to happen, right? So my theory is that at the end of the month I’ll have a novel that I’ll never want to let anyone read, let alone show to a publisher. But I’ll have a novel, all the same. Which will make it much easier, come December, to say “OK, time to think about writing my second novel. And this one’s going to be published next year.”. I’ll go back over my manuscript, pick out the decent bits, and do it properly, no longer starting from scratch but with a proper story in place.
I realise that this is a mammoth project, but it’s only one month, and let’s face it, I can write and write and write all the live-long day if quality isn’t a requirement. I reckon that this is the sort of kickstart I need to get started.
Small problem. I have absolutely no idea what to write about. The NaNoWriMo website (and delightfully encouraging email) assures me that this is not a problem, but I have a horrible fear of sitting down at the computer and staring despairingly at a blank screen for the entire month.
So here’s the deal. If you’ll be so kind as to give me suggestions, I’ll use them in my novel. Imagine the satisfaction of reading a book that includes your character or your plot twist; the smug “this wouldn’t exist were it not for me!” feeling. You’d love it. And I’d love some inspiration. In fact, I need it! So go on. A setting, a character, a plot, a twist, a random object (however small or apparently insignificant) or quotation to be included, a sentence or phrase, anything to start the creative juices flowing. I found that when I was short of inspiration for blog posts last year, throwing it open like this provided me with more material than I could ever have imagined. Fancy doing the same this time and giving me a nudge into the world of novel-writing? If there are a few suggestions, I’ll try to use them all in some way. If there are loads, I’ll pick at least three suggestions and work them into my story somehow – or, if your suggestion really grabs me, maybe it’ll actually be my story!
Leave a comment and help me out – the clock is ticking! The novel commences on Saturday…