JuliWriMo Day 2: Breaking the Rules

I’m not one for following the rules – at least, not when it comes to National Novel Writing Month or Camp NaNo. And believe me, if you look for them, you’ll find many rules:

  • Write 50,000 words in 30 days
  • This means 1,667 words a day
  • But this should be a new project!
  • A novel!
  • You can’t start early but you can plan
  • Don’t touch that delete key
  • Block out that inner editor’s voice
  • Just get the words down, even if you find yourself describing your character’s bedroom rug for far too long…

Don’t get me wrong, I love NaNo – I’ve been doing it for 7 years and am a huge proponent for using it to better yourself as a writer. But not all of the rules are going to work for you, and nor should you force them to.

For instance, the “rule” that your NaNo project should be a completely new one just isn’t my thing. And I realize that. When I have a novel idea, I ponder it and love it and live it for ages. Sure, I can write the first draft in a month (if you haven’t done this before, trust me, it’s not as hard as it sounds!). But six months later, I will realize that I need to rework my draft or take my novel in a totally different direction, which requires rewriting. And if I started a new project three times a year, I’d have a whole bunch of unfinished manuscripts. So this month, I’m working on a novel that originally came from an idea 7 years ago. It’s gone through maybe 6 full revisions – completely different stories, really – and it’s my problem child. But I just can’t give up on it! NaNo and Camp NaNo 3 times a year gives me a set time and reminder to come back to this beloved project.

Another rule that might be better bent is that your project has to be a novel. I think the folks at nanowrimo.org have learned this, as there are now more options to announce your project as any length or type of writing. But when I decided to write poetry for Camp NaNo in April, there was no option listed for that. Poems take longer for me to write than novel pages. How do I quantify a word of poetry versus a word of fiction? Are poetry words worth more?

I ended up doing my own thing and deciding that valuing each poem as a whole rather than worrying about its length is what mattered for me. I think this is what it comes down to: do what works for you. NaNo shouldn’t feel restrictive; it should be a loose structure that encourages writing every day. Any writing is productive writing!

Writer life haiku of the day:

Oh, don't you mind me
I'm transcribing what you say...
You'll be in my book!

My current word count: 513 words (yeah, yeah, starting slow but still writing!)

Published by laurenhallstrom

Lauren is the author of two CIPA EVVY award-winning novels, both written when she was a teen. She writes contemporary fantasy for tweens and young adults. She holds an undergraduate degree in English at Colorado State University and currently works in a public library. More often than not you can find her there - promoting lifelong learning, staring off into space, and dreaming up new stories.

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