Last year I failed to write a novel. I had every intent of writing a book and I even had an idea (think the results of apocalyptic consumerism encouraged by a greedy and controlling government). So, I signed up for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and gave it a go: I lasted two days.
I failed because I was trying to write a book that is fundamentally outside of what I read. The only novel of any kind I can think of that I have read in the last five years is Louise Penny’s Still Life, which I read because I was on vacation with my sister, who has read every single one of Penny’s mysteries. It was a great book and the perfect thing for me to read at the beach, but the reality is that when left to my own devices I read massive quantities of non-fiction.
This year, I signed up again, but I am going to defy NaNoWriMo convention and write a non-fiction book. My years of aspiring to write a novel have taught me that the goal of NaNoWriMo is overarchingly to get a first draft (at least 50,000 words) on paper in the month of November, so that is exactly what I am aiming for.
I have an outline of the book I am envisioning, but I have not done any research beyond sharing the outline with a few people to get their feedback. I have lots of questions. Will the amount of research that I’ll need to do be more or less labor intensive than my fiction-writing counterparts? Will the 1600+ words that I need to write per day to reach the goal be doable with my subject matter? Is 50,000 words a reasonable target length for my book or will it be shorter/longer? Will I have time to do this given all of the other personal and professional commitments I have in November?
NaNoWriMo also tells you to publicly commit to writing a book so that you’re holding yourself accountable to those you know. Last year I am pretty sure I told two people and that was it. This year, I am writing this post to force myself to be accountable. Writing this book is something I really want to do and so I’m sharing the goal with the world. I am not aiming for a complete, perfect, publishable book this month, but a first draft of something that I could polish and expand after November. I’ll report back in a month and report on how it went. I am determined to make sure that at that point, something of unknown quality and word count exists.