Saturday, July 2, 2011

Quibbles With Quality and How to Ignore Them: Camp NaNoWriMo

Is there anything more satisfying than writing unfathomable quantities of words in a very short period of time? Perhaps. I certainly wouldn’t complain if those unfathomable quantities actually translated into good writing. But that’s what revision is for!

                That’s right, boys and girls. It’s that time of year again. Kind of. While NaNoWriMo usually takes place in November, this year they’ve begun another venture: Camp NaNoWriMo. Two sessions, in July and August, for those who can’t find the time to write a novel in November, or for those of us who just can’t get enough of the event.

                Perhaps you’ve heard of National Novel Writing Month in the past. Perhaps it’s something you only vaguely understand, or perhaps it’s something that you’d like to do someday but haven’t yet. Perhaps you’re a veteran Wrimo, like myself. But for those of you who aren’t familiar with this grand tradition, one simple sentence sums up the lovely insanity of it all.

                Write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days.

                Yup. Pretty cool. I’ve actually blogged about NaNoWriMo and Script Frenzy in the past, back in the posts where I had no idea what I was doing with a blog, but this is a new era of Pro(b)logue, and a new branch of NaNoWriMo, so I figured I’d post about it once more.

                A lot of people have trouble getting started with their novel. Well, that’s not entirely accurate. Getting started isn’t the problem. The problem is the middle doldrums that strip you of your imagination and send you running for work, chores, TV… Anything to keep you from writing, because you just know that whatever you write will be awful and dumb and not worth seeing the light of day.

                That’s where NaNoWriMo and programs like it come into play. For one month out of the year (or two, or three, depending on how many events you choose to participate in) you have permission to write horribly.

                You sit down, open a new word document, and start writing. Very, very quickly. Your first paragraph sucks? Don’t worry. There’s sure to be worse. Your main character is flat? You can fix it later. Or spend three pages info-dumping his backstory, to be more smoothly incorporated at a later date. You have no plot? No problem! Insert ninjas and watch the fun ensue as the pages stack up.

                NaNoWriMo is for people who can’t bring themselves to keep going with a project. People who get bogged down with getting everything perfect. People whose inner editors hold them captive and stop an idea long before it gets anywhere exciting.

                With NaNoWriMo, you can write without worrying, and get something down on paper. Your rough draft will be awful anyway, so you may as well get it out of the way now.

                Take my Camp NaNo novel, for example. It’s the second book in a series I wrote the first book of almost a year ago. I have a rough (rough) plan for it, but not enough of a plan that I was looking forward to writing it. I was sure I was going to screw it up and lose my motivation for the rest of the series. I didn’t even have the first book revised to perfection, so how was I going to write a decent sequel? But a few days before Camp NaNoWriMo began, I thought about the two main characters and realized that they were so adorable, I had to get their story down on paper, soon.

                So, on July 1, I started writing Vermin #2: The Hidden War.

                Now, on July 2, my current word count is 5,206.

                Is it good? NO. Not even close. I have hardly any idea where I’m going with it, my description leaves a lot to be desired, and my narrative sucks. But I’m writing. And I’m writing a novel, which I haven’t actually done in quite a while – I’ve been so busy trying to revise old rough drafts and write short stories that I feel like I’ve gotten a little rusty with my novels. Another reason why I’m glad to be doing Camp NaNoWriMo this year. My hope is that, once I get further into it, I’ll be able to get back into the swing of things.

                Oh, and did I mention that I’m getting a lot of ideas that I want into the story? And I’m already discovering new things about this setting and plot and the aftermath of the first book? So, even if this novel is awful when I finish it (and trust me, it will be) I still think it’ll be salvageable. I’ll have a starting point to work off of, and for I think the first time (maybe second) I’ll have actually written the second book in a series I’ve planned.

                Which’ll be really cool, indeed.

                *sigh* I apologize for this rough blog post. I’m still in NaNo mode, so my thought process is a little jumpy right now, and I want to get back to my novel. Trust me, the whole thing is a lot cooler than I’m making it sound. Hopefully my next blog post will be a little more organized.

                Are you doing Camp NaNoWriMo? Have you done the event in November? What about Script Frenzy, or any other events like this one?

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