Christina Vasilevski

Toronto Writer/Editor for Content Strategy and User Experience.

NaNoWriMo: Taking the Plunge

Yesterday a social-media friend of mine (Hello, Jonathan!) asked me if I was thinking about doing NaNoWriMo this year.

Short answer: Not really.

Long answer:  I’ve thought about it in the past but have always said no; I sincerely doubt that I’ll have the time to write 50,000 words in 30 days while working full-time, and I’d rather not start and end up failing.

But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the idea appealed to me. After all, I did have a bunch of story ideas rattling around in my head, and there was one story in particular where I had even gone so far as to take notes on what the main plot and the complementary subplot would be. Why not go for it?

So yes, I have decided: I will be doing NaNoWriMo.

However, I’m not doing this to prepare a manuscript for publication. I’m going in with a few reasonable assumptions:

  • My book will suck.
  • My pacing will be off.
  • My characters won’t be realistic or three-dimensional.
  • My setting will not engage the reader.
  • My diction will be poor.

If I’m so convinced my book will be horrible, then why am I doing it? Well, for reasons both personal and professional:

  1. I want to prove to myself that I have the discipline to complete a novel. I’ve never attempted writing anything as long as 50,000 words (I didn’t need to write a thesis paper to get my BA), and almost every writing resource I’ve read stresses that the most successful writers aren’t necessarily the best or most-skilled – the most successful ones are the ones who don’t stop and keep on hustling. NaNoWriMo provides an excellent platform for this because of the social aspect.
  2. I feel that writing a novel will make me a better editor. You know that old saying “those who can’t do, teach”? Well, I’m sure a lot of writers out there feel that “those who can’t write, edit”. If I actually take the effort to write a novel and realize how hard it is to do so (creating an engaging plot with believable characters, understandable motivations, evocative settings, and more), I’m sure that my understanding of how to make novels better will also improve. Plus, I’m sure I will be more tactful in my comments and critiques to the writers I end up working with.
  3. I feel that there is a good novel in me somewhere. I have lots of stories in my head that I want to develop further in text. But I want to give each story the attention and skill it deserves. I figure that if my first novel is something that I’m not too worked up about (remember, I’m assuming that this first novel will suck due to inexperience), I’ll feel more confident when I start subsequent projects. I’d rather not ruin a really amazing idea with bad execution when I can wait and really do it well once I have more practice.

In the meantime, I’m trying to gather up more resources about writing build up a cushion of support and encouragement. So far, I’m focusing on StoryFix and the I Should Be Writing podcast by Mur Lafferty. What writing resources do you have to share? Let me know in the comments.