How I plan to lose NaNoWriMo this year

NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month, is a program run out of Berkeley, California that supports writers, especially first time writers, in completing a novel in one month, November.

The numerical goal is to write 50,000 words. Don’t research, don’t edit, just get your story down on paper, and worry about fixing things later.  50,000 words is a shortish novel, but you’re only working on the first draft anyways, so there’s plenty of time for editing later. Continue reading


NaNoWriMo Update

As I wrote way back at the end of October, I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2012 and 2013 and completed the 50,000 words to be deemed a Winner.  This year I was going into it with a different goal in mind–to finally finish the novel I started during last year’s NaNoWriMo, or to at least write 20,000 words towards that goal.  As luck would have it, I heaved myself over both my goal lines yesterday evening, reaching what I envisioned as the end of my novel and topping off at 20,059 words.  I was much less diligent than I had been in previous years, but it worked out.

And when I say “finish the novel”, I mean, of course, “finish the first draft of the novel”.  While I quite like some parts, there are others that definitely need work, including the ending which needs major wordsmithing.  And I am sure that when I read it through again (sometime after the Christmas holidays), I will find plot holes and inconsistencies, characters who change names, and many, many typos.  I know this because I’ve gone through the process with my first NaNoWriMo creation. It’s the flip side of racing through writing a novel in 30 days–it can need more editing than it would have otherwise. And I’m ready for it.

Somehow though, the slower, lazier pace I set this year did not create the “magic” that I had found in previous years:  the magic of spending so much time in the world you’ve created with the characters you know so well that sometimes the story writes itself.  Put the characters in a scene, with the aim of doing something which advances the plot, and sit back and take dictation as fast as you can.

Is NaNoWriMo for everyone?  No, and I read a very good blog post lately that went through the pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages of NaNoWriMo.  Not everyone can sit down and write for a month straight, even if you’ve outlined the plot beforehand.  I’ve done NaNoWriMo because I need the discipline, even if it’s somewhat self-imposed, of sitting down and writing something every day.  Still I find myself wandering off and researching some arcane fact to ensure I get it correct, which is definitely frowned upon in NaNoWriMo.

What NaNoWriMo does provide is an insight into the life of a professional writer.  While I’m not sure if many writers manage to crank out 50,000 words month after month, it’s a reasonable facsimile, and valuable as such.

Will I participate again?  I’m not sure, and December 1 is probably the wrong time to ask that question.  Let’s wait and let the writing settle a bit.  There’s plenty of time–and plenty of words–between now and next November.

NaNoWriMo and the Accidental Novelist

I have participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, and will again this year, but more on that later.

To those unacquainted, NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, is an event that takes place every November in which participants are encouraged to write 50,000 words of a novel. The philosophy is to just get the words down on paper (or computer screen). Don’t worry about editing; don’t worry about research. Sit your butt in your chair and pour out 50,000 words over the thirty days of November. We’ll deal with editing later. Continue reading