Friday, November 04, 2005

Nanowrimo Day 4

Last night I was afraid I wouldn't get any writing done today. I really felt I was already squeezed for words as I wrapped up at around midnight.

This morning, I felt reasonably better and had an angle by which I could continue the previous chapter. However, I had a biking run with Dean Sinco, Alex Pal, and their biking buddies at 5:30am. This being my first long trip in a while, and the first with a large group, I definitely did not want to miss it. So off I went.

Where I decided to get a large chunk of writing time in mid-morning, I found Sacha my girlfriend online. I did not want to miss that either. So we talked for a while. And then it was time to go back to the store.

I finally got started at 2:30PM, continuing where I left off last night. Clackety-clackety-clack, went the keyboard of my Thinkpad for a good solid 2 hours, a feat of which I am proud of, and out comes 1,800 words. Slowly and painfully, yes, but I did get there.
So now I'm at 11,191 words, 800 words short of my target for the day. Could I have hit 12,000? Sure. Except that I had a dinner with friends and a guest, and a suddenly-remembered deadline for the Dumaguete Metro Post tomorrow.

I did get the article done first, but now I really am dead tired and severely wanting for sleep. So I'm not going to push myself anymore. I'll make up for lost time tomorrow. I hope.

The nice thing about this foolish undertaking is it has significantly reduced my writing time. For that I'm glad. I banged out the Rational Technology piece in half the time it took me before. And here it is:

Rational Technology for November 6, 2005

What does it take to write a novel? Try 50,000 words. Well, no, really, the answer is a little more complicated than that. There's the plot, there's character development, there's the pacing of the story, and the dozens of other things that make a novel a novel. But if you're taking the traditional route, then you'll most definitely need to work your way up to at least 50,000 words (at which point, it might be called a novella, but literature is not really my field so I won't quibble further.)

The 50,000 words of story is no laughing matter, mind you. This column is roughly 400 to 500 words, so by the count definition you would expect the novel to be 100 times longer. And this is where the task of writing a novel becomes daunting: because it's a lot of work that requires discipline. To be sure, talent and inspiration are equally important, but what separates the dreamers from the doers is the drive to hunker down and actually write it.

By this same token, a novel is also what they call a "one day" project. As in: "one day, I'm going to write a novel." More often than not, that novel never gets written.

This is where the NaNoWriMo Project steps in. NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's a bit of a misnomer, really, because the project has already gone beyond the boundaries of its home country, the United States. But conceptually it's the same as when it first started out. Starting at the stroke of midnight of November 1, participating authors take to their computers, typewriters, or pens, and start writing their novel. Not a day before, mind you. The work has to start on November 1st (though there's nothing in the rules that says you can start later.)

The goal is to have a 50,000-word novel before the end of November 30. It sounds a little extreme, but it has been done several times before. The threat of a deadline is actually an effective spur for some people to get cracking on the project. It helps greatly to know that you're undertaking your project with several other folks of the same persuasion.

There's no guarantee of the quality of work that results from such a mad rush, of course. The goal is to get that novel out. This is not to say that publish-worthy works cannot come out from this endeavor because they have. One of the participants from last year's NaNoWriMo submitted his work to the Palanca Awards and won the Grand Prize. Other international participants have had the same golden experience. What's important is to actually get it out.

So am I participating in this year's NaNoWriMo. You bet I am. It's my first time to do so, and though I sometimes wonder at the practical and monetary value of such an undertaking (I don't expect my output to be publish-worthy, so there), a big part of me is saying that I should do this now before it turns out to be one of my "could've beens." I'm at 11,000 words so far, and I hope to carry this through the end.

If you've been itching to write that novel in your head but just never found the time to do it, why not join me and the thousands of other writers, both aspiring and accomplished, who are going through this mad dash this November? Sign up at and break out that word processor.

Better hurry, though. You only have 24 days left....