A record number of people have signed up for NaNo this year. Last year, it was about 250,000. This year, with sign ups still coming in, it’s about 270,000. The percentage of winners doesn’t change much from year to year, because NaNo is now an Event, and people who really have no interest in writing sign up for any number of trivial reasons. The result, which is much more evident this year, is that the forums are cluttered with questions that have already been answered, either on a forum or in the FAQ, duplicate threads, which are locked by the moderators, and threads in the wrong forums, which are also locked.
Normally, I don’t spend much time on the forums, because I’m actually — brace yourself for it — writing. I’m more of a lurker than a participant on forums, anyway, but this year’s NaNo forum has turned into such a free-for-all that it’s hardly worth scouting for interesting threads. NaNo has metastasized into a circus, and that’s really unfortunate.
I’m way ahead of my own minimum goals, with a little over 17,000 words in the hopper at the end of the fourth day. I’m not sure why I’ve been able to maintain a daily average of over 4,000 words a day when I’d already be slowing down to a more reasonable pace, and a slow down is going to happen. Writing gets easier every year, of course, but I think it might have something to do with the stories.
It’s easier to sustain forward progress in a story than a novel, something I was beginning to realize after writing The Darkest Prison and Within the Silence. And it helps to have someplace else to go when a story bogs down temporarily. The equivalent, with a novel, would be skipping to another section. But that can create continuity problems that have to be fixed later, adding another bit of frustration to editing.
I have a folder full of story ideas, some of them with extensive notes and even a stab at getting some of them underway. Originally, I thought of them as future novels, but that has changed slowly over the last year or so. There is the time factor, of course. How many novels can a slow writer expect to finish? But as I delve into the story structure more intensively, I’m beginning to appreciate it in a way I haven’t as a reader.
So this NaNo may be a turning point in my writing. Which might make the next year very interesting. Looking at next year’s NaNo, if I do it again, I’ll be thinking seriously about another story collection.