Archive for October 24th, 2012

#Flashathon Week: Day Three

Wait. What happened to Day Two?

Today, I’d like to bring up the elephant in the room. That other fiction writing marathon looming just a few days after Flashathon. I’m talking, of course, of Nanowrimo.

Anyone who has followed me on this blog and over on Unleaded knows I have a sort of love-hate relationship with Nanowrimo. I am a former Nano participant, and I think it did a lot of good for getting me over the hump and discovering that I could create novel-length stories. Then I walked away when I realized I was almost exclusively writing in Novemeber because Nano would leave me burned out for a few months. This isn’t going to turn into my annual Nanowrimo blog post, that’ll probably go up next week on Nano Eve over on Unleaded. Instead, recognizing that there will be an overlap between Flashathon and Nanowrimo participants, I wanted to discuss the two together.

First, yes, Flashathon is shockingly close to Nano. Typically I’d have hosted Flashathon last weekend to create a little more space between the two events, but life got in the way, so this year Flashathon will be that critical last Saturday before Nanowrimo. It’s a day I know some people spend outlining or preparing, and others spend putting their affairs in order before monastically locking themselves away for a month. If you can’t participate because it’s too close to Nanowrimo, I understand. No need for apologies, and good luck with your novel in November.

Second, yes, Flashathon is massively inspired by Nanowrimo. Not entirely. Some of the origin came from other blogs that do some form of “-athon” that typically deal with around the clock posting of entries. But in terms of this being a marathon of creative fiction writing insanity…yeah, the comparison is easy to make. Really, it’s based on what I think Nanowrimo should be, and how I treated it. One of my first years of Nanowrimo I came across the Staters of the Rules. These were the folks who said your Nanowrimo project had to be fiction, had to be started no earlier than November 1, and that words 49,999 and 50,000 needed to be “the” and “end.” That last one never made sense to me, but some insisted the goal was to write a 50,000 word novel, not a 50,617 word novel. I didn’t like the Staters of the Rules. The next year, they were largely gone. Or, perhaps, I didn’t just see them. The Nanowrimo that I walked into that year was a more open event that acknowledged creativity as the core principle. Adding 50k words to a work already in progress? Go for it. Want to write 50k words of short stories? Kick some ass.

I liked that second Nanowrimo better, and felt it was more in the spirit of creativity and fun. That’s why I tried to make Flashathon as rules light as possible. The prompts are there for the hard-core or the writers’ blocked. If you know something else you want to write, please write it. With that in mind…

Third, yes, Flashathon can be integrated into Nanowrimo. Last year we had people working on flash fiction pieces, certainly. But I know some Flashathon participants were using the hours to prep for Nanowrimo. They were world building, outlining, character sketching, and I fully welcomed all these activities. The only thing I don’t really count is “research.” No sitting on a wikipedia article during the hour and calling that a success. Other than that, if you feel like you did some writing during that hour that you wouldn’t have otherwise done, post what you did as a comment. Stand up for it and feel proud. And, perhaps, one of the prompts might give you that little extra element that you need for your story.

Though, even from the few prompts I’ve already looked at and scheduled, I would argue against trying to integrate all the prompts into your Nano.

So come along, one and all, and use the event as much or as little as it helps you. Then good luck in November!

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