No, not Christmas. NaNoWriMo-- the month of literary abandon wherein would-be novelists devote themselves to cranking out 50,000 new words. If you complete the challenge you "win" the month. In my book, if you attempt the challenge, you also win.
There are some (who shall remain nameless but survey your writerly twitter feed and you'll see them) who believe NaNo is a bad idea. "Not everyone can craft a novel," they say. "Novels take time to simmer and build," they say. "What's the point of pounding out 50,000 words if you're going to throw away half of them?" they say.
Insert my eyeroll here. Why? Because these arguments (and the many others you'll find) are bunk. First of all, part of the time and simmering process is drafting... which is what NaNo is. And second, well, what's the point of doing anything? Why train for and run a marathon if you'll never "win?" Why attempt cooking a fancy dinner if you'll never be a professional chef? Why take a photography class if you'll never be Ansel Adams? Hell. We should just all give up and sit on our couches and eat potato chips until we DIE.
Kidding. Obviously. The point of NaNo is not to crank out a publishable book in 30 days (ha!) the point is, like anything else one endeavors to do, to grow. To learn something. To experience a sense of community (there are NaNo meet-ups all over the country). To try. Or, you know, to have just FUN.
I know, right? Some of us actually enjoy writing just for the sake of it.
NaNo taught me that I am a fast drafter. I need to crank out a (as Anne Lamott says) "shitty" first draft as quickly as possible and if I don't, I lose momentum and thus interest. I'm a fickle writer, apparently. I never would have figured that out if I didn't attempt NaNo. Odds are I would be sitting here having never finished a single manuscript and wondering why I have all these partially finished ideas, why I get 20,000 words in and then stall out.
NaNo also taught me that I prefer revising to drafting because in the revising I see my book getting better. Stronger. More akin to the vision I have in my head. (In case you didn't know, it's DAMN hard to get the vision onto paper).
I fast-drafted a manuscript this summer (although by fast-draft, I mean over the course of 2-3 months), then revised a bunch. Now, I'm about to REVISE a bunch more. NaNo for me will be NaNoReviseMo-- I cut about 20,000 words yesterday, I've got to add back in that plus a good 10-20,000 more. Meep!
So. Are you doing NaNo? If so, the internet is laden with people giving tips but here are mine:
2) Keep writing.
3) Write some more.
Seriously. JUST. KEEP. WRITING.
Don't worry about plot holes, character development, missing scenes, bad dialog, nothing but dialog etc. etc. Your first draft is like a coat of primer-- it's laying the foundation for what can come next. What will come next if you're willing to put in the work (and it's hard work-- fun work, but HARD work).
My other tip: HAVE FUN!