Notes on NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo starts today! For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which challenges participants to write a 50,000-word novel (or 50,000 words of a longer novel) during the month of November. I have been participating for years in this event and in Camp NaNoWriMo, a more flexible, informal version that takes place twice a year and allows you to set your own goals and work on a wider array of writing projects.

I’m a self-designated NaNo Rebel, which means I’m not strictly following the rules this year. Rebels are allowed, and even encouraged. In my case, I’ll be using the time to work on a book outline, not on the actual book. I started the outline over the summer, but the bizarre year we’ve been having has distracted me terribly. The pandemic has changed everything. My writers’ group has had to cancel our in-person coffeeshop sessions and moved to outdoor meetings, which means that we don’t always have internet and that we frequently have to cancel for bad weather. My son started his first year of college, which switched from on-campus to at-home and back to on-campus, and is switching back to at-home between the Thanksgiving holiday and winter break. And the general election this week has been a huge suck of volunteering time and the mental energy that goes into being constantly outraged while increasingly terrified of the possibility of Donald Trump being re-elected.

In any case, I have been beating myself up for my lack of consistent progress on this book, but I plan to get an outline, even if it’s a preliminary one, finished this month. It won’t be 50,000 words. I don’t care about the 50,000 word goal, which is rather arbitrary. I just want to feel that I’ve made some progress on this book, a science-fiction novel for teens. I don’t want to go into any details about the plot and setting right now, but I hope to post updates throughout the month.

One caveat: I’m not working on the book this first few days of the month. The election is Tuesday and I have no mental energy to spare until it’s past. But I plan to jump in on Wednesday. Stay tuned.

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