The NaNoWriMo Treatment
National Novel Writing Month 2015
On the 1st November this year I embarked on my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month; an opportunity for writers of all levels, from all over the world to “get together” and write furiously for a month. The point? Write a novel in 30 days, with a target of 50,000 words over the same period.
So how is it going? Well, just over a third of the way through I am at a little over 21,000 words and so still ahead of the curve. It isn’t easy though. The target for each day is 1,667 words which takes a couple of hours. If the words aren’t flowing or a scene/chapter/section isn’t playing ball, then it can take even longer. It is a very different discipline from screenwriting. Obviously some of the principles are the same, but I have found myself trying to unlearn a lot of the rules (yeah, I know) and techniques I have picked up while working on my screenplays. Writing longer, more descriptive passages to set up scenes, and being able to deal in thoughts and feeling more readily has been a bit of a struggle. I am getting used to it, although I worry it might mean returning to he return to the screenplay format might be another shock after NaNoWriMo.
I’m beginning to think that I may not be naturally gifted in the novel department. To be honest, I may not be a natural with screenwriting either, but I find that more of a comfortable approach for me. Not because it is easier (it isn’t) just different in ways that I enjoy. Despite the shorter form of descriptive passages and the battle against using too many words, I find it easier to express myself in a screenplay as opposed to a novel.
Of course, this may change as we head towards the end of the month and the challenge itself.
I’m still hopeful that I will get to the end of the month and hit the 50,000 word target, and I have accepted that I won’t work on anything else, writing-wise, while NaNoWriMo is ongoing. However, even if I don’t I will, at least, end up with the best, most detailed treatment I have ever written.
And that is a real revelation from NaNoWriMo. Writing a novel this quickly is like writing a very detailed treatment (albeit with dialogue). I might even try it again on the future projects. I spent about a month researching and planning and another month writing shorter treatments and a chapter outline. Another month to write the novel and a month after that for preparing the screenplay, and you have a first draft in 4 months, which seems a reasonable amount of time for churning out a story when writing part-time.
I have said in the past that I struggle with planning and writing treatments; I usually itch to just get down to the “writing”. NaNoWriMo has given me another insight into how important planning is and, while I suspect 50,000 word treatments won’t become the norm for me, it has (so far) been a great writing exercise in planning ahead to make sure I was able to make the target. I don’t think I would have made it through NaNo without planning. If I had tried making it up as I go along, I suspect I would have stalled early on and would now be struggling to meet targets.
But, for now, I was short on my target for today. I’m still ahead of schedule and will make up some words tomorrow and, fingers crossed, keep it up for the next 20 days.
Good luck to anyone else working on a novel for NaNoWriMo. Feel free to comment on your experiences below!