Day Four of NaNoWriMo is either just beginning, underway, or ending wherever you’re reading this. Twenty-six more to go.
For those of you participating in National Novel Writing Month, I wish you the best of luck. I admire your dedication and perseverance and creative talent under time parameters. You are all my writing heroes. 🙂
Unlike writers/bloggers such as Dreampunk Geek and Writing Underdog, I am not partaking in this 50 000 word fest of words, plot, and stress. There is just no way. I think it’s a great program for writers, and a great way to actually get a story from your head into paper (for those of us walking around with unused worlds in our heads). However, this is simply just not my can of beans.
Somewhat coincidentally a new novel idea sort of fell out of the sky on October 30th while watching the Scotiabank Giller Prize on CBC. I thought about doing NaNoWriMo with it, but decided not to.
Her name is Alton (Tonie) Marron, and she’s nothing like I’ve ever written before.
As a result of this new person in my life, and as a parallel to NaNoWriMo, I’ve come up with a proposal. I’m calling it National Write
Something Utterly Different Than Anything You’ve Written Before Month. Let’s call it NaWriSoUtDiThaAnYoWriBeMo. I’m sorry. No one said it couldn’t be unpronounceable.
Guidelines for NaWriSoUtDiThaAnYoWriBeMo:
As the name suggests, your piece must be utterly different than anything you’ve written before.
This could and should take the form of differences in:
-Likes and dislikes
-Continuity (write the thing backwards or not in chronological order)
-Format (poetry, chapters, by the phases of the moon in a year, diary entries, diagrams, songs, rhymes, etc…)
-Invent nonsense words (recommended reading: Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll, Frindle by Andrew Clements)
-Different planet/dimension (we’re not in Kansas anymore, or maybe we are)
-Social Classes (are peasants more important than nobles?)
-Protagonist experience in situations your previous protagonists haven’t had (love, crime, family, sex, health, drugs, etc…)
-Government system (olgiarchy, monarchy, democracy, lottery?)
-If you normally do plot outlines, don’t do it
-If you don’t normally do plot outlines, do it
-Write it backwards, in random chunks
-Write it forwards, in one fluid chunk
-Do a chapter in one paragraph
-Do a chapter in multiple paragraphs
-Try leaving out the intake of coffee (but only if you feel it’s safe)
-Take up drinking coffee (but only if you feel it’s safe)
-Write with a different tool (pen instead of computer, or Open Office instead of Microsoft Word)
-Co-write with a friend (or enemy, but that’s not recommended)
-Author something on your own
-Write with a group of people, or alone
-Eat while writing
-Fast while writing
-Listen to music or different kinds of music
-Don’t time yourself
-Don’t keep track of the word count
-Keep track of the word count
Other guidelines to consider:
- Everything written must be different than any previous pieces. For me the genre, world, and personal life of my protagonist is utterly new.
- Length doesn’t matter. It could be 500 words. It could be 100 000.
- Be scared. It’s no fun if you’re not.
- There are no limits. Want trees to be blue? Go for it. In fact, it’s encouraged, just so long as you haven’t done it before.
- Don’t keep track of your progress. If you must, record your word or page count at the end of every week or with the phases of the quarter moon.
- It’s supposed to be difficult.
- After the month is over you can do whatever you want. I don’t care. If you didn’t finish and want to, by all means do so. If you hated it and want to throw it away, by all means do that, too.
- If you decide that at page 82, when your protagonist is about to chase after her cocaine-addicted boyfriend, the story is over, then it’s over. We are not conventional. We don’t need to have by-the-rulebook beginnings, middles, and ends. We just write. And this time we’re trying to write something we’ve never written before.
- Get your friends or blog/Twitter/FB followers in on the party. Have ridiculous get-togethers where you write the most incredible pieces of literary garbage that sparkle in the sunlight. Just so long as you haven’t done anything like it before. Post excerpts on your blog (and then maybe kindly link them to the guidelines here. 🙂 )