Why Try?

NaNoWrMo is bigger than 50,000 words.
By Elizabeth Cutright
© 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

Why did I decide to attempt the NaNoWrMo project?  That’s a good question.  While I’ve always harbored fantasies of being a published novelist, the truth is that it’s been a while since a long-form narrative has sounded appealing.  My life is so immersed in journalism and new media, and it’s sad to say that on average I’m sure I read more blogs this year than I did novels.

So why even try?

Well, I like a challenge.  And I’ve always loved setting goals, even if I don’t always reach them.  I’ve talked about the power of “to-do” lists before, and there’s no bigger “to-do” than joining a volunteer army of writers on a 50,000-word quest.  And making my participation public also makes me accountable – it may not happen right away, but eventually the questions will seep into conversation – “how’s that book going?” “How far have you gotten?”  “Do you realize there’s only ten days left?!”

I also like to think that trying different things can have a multiplying effect – you don’t just participate in a new experience, you also end up opening all kinds of different doors.  Taking that one step can unveil a whole host of fresh opportunities.

And I’m also a huge fan of expanding my knowledge base.  I love learning – even if I don’t particular enjoy lectures – and in one day I’ve already just about overwhelmed myself, clicking from one blog post to the next, chuck full of advice and long lists of strategies and writing tips.  Why on Galley Cat alone, you can access “60 NaNoWrMo Writing Tips In a Single Post”.  I don’t know about you, but that’s probably about 50 tips too many for my writerly saddlebags, which are already bursting with information.

New things that I’ve learned so far:

There are a ton of online tools designed for the focused writer.  We all know about Google Docs and Dropbox, but did you know about “My Writing Nook”, which works with your Google account and includes a dictionary and a thesaurus (as well as that all important word counter).  There’s also WriteRoom  and Omniwriter for Mac and Darkroom for Window: aps that hide desktop clutter and work to keep the focus on the page.

Did you know you can use to web to search for Clichés?  Cliché Finder is a database that allows you to search for clichés by typing in a word (like “cat” or “day”) or a series of words into a search menu.  Hit “return” after you entry, and the site will comb through over 3300 clichés – an easy way to see if you’ve fallen into the cliché trap.  Oh, and for the record (thanks Galley Cat), a cliché is “ a metaphor characterized by its overuse.”

Are you searching for a great surname or nickname for your character, or a locale that doesn’t have a real world counterpart? Maybe you just need that one little plot point to get you started… Galley Cat suggests you go here, where a writer named Manon has created a huge database of “fiction generators.”  The site can help you name a character, set a scene or even build a city.

You can also try the Brainstormer app to “generate new angles to your story.”  Developed by Andrew Bosley, this online tool can “randomly churn out dramatic twists for any story by combining three randomly generated phrases.”  There’s even an iPhone version for brainstorming on the go.

If you decided to throw your lot into this crazy adventure, I highly recommend a daily check-in with Galley Cat.  The site runs a daily NaNoWriMo tip blog, along with plenty of other resources, including essays from professional writers and first-person accounts of the NaNoWriMo experience.

I’m only about ten items in on Galley Cat’s exhaustive list.  I’ll keep you all updated by highlighting anything I feel is particularly helpful.  I’m already feeling the strain this morning, after realizing that starting off on that first 1900 words without a plot, main character or central conflict in mind may not have been the best idea.  I shouldn’t be surprise, I’ve always been pretty good at beginnings – it’s the long haul that always trips me up.

Which is one of the reasons – to answer the question at the beginning of this blog – I’ve decided to embark on NaNoWriMo.  I want to see what it really takes to finish a novel, not only to dose my daydreams with a heavy dosage of reality, but to also prove to myself that it can be done.

All original content is the sole property of Elizabeth Cutright and The Daily Creative Writer. If you are reading this blog on another website, it has been reposted without the author’s permission in violation of the DMCA. © 2012 The Daily Creative Writer

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16 thoughts on “Why Try?

    1. Are you staring NaNoWriMo too?
      There are sooo many great tips – and so many great bloggers – it can get overwhelming. I’ll keep trying to find what I think works best.
      Thanks for the follow!

  1. I’m not because I write creative nonfiction and poetry, not fiction. But these are great tips for any writer. Good luck with your novel!

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