5 November 2014

#NaNoWriMo is live - But is it for You?

It's November so it must be (Inter)National Novel Writing Month, when hardly souls sign up to undertake cracking 50,000 words in 30 days. 

If you have, then you certainly won't be reading this post. It equates to 1,700 words per consecutive day, 7 days a week, or 2,500 words per day, 5 days a week if you wish to remain on speaking terms with your nearest and dearest during December.

A straw poll from close writer friends found that half wouldn't even attempt it because to write at the required speed over such a period would produce "...substandard crap, riddled with plot-holes and trillions of adverbs..."

This brings to the fore my misgivings from last year [read here]: most participants expect to produce a typescript near enough there bar the polishing, when in truth what they are more likely to have is a very dirty draft. And chances are that participants will be so emotionally exhausted they won't be able to tell the difference.

Not everyone I contacted thinks this way. Two who accepted the challenge in previous years found there were pros and cons. Tiredness was certainly a factor, both mental and physical, and after putting in so much work the fear of missing the target, no matter self-imposed, crept in when the cascade of words turned to a dribble. On the other hand, procrastination was eliminated, and hitting the deadline gave a real lift to the senses. As one put it "...I felt energised and renewed...".

If your immediate domestic circle isn't on board to support and gate-keep for you, it won't happen.
Being normally disciplined in your writing is a great help.
Pre-planning is a must: characters, outline, research...
Never look back; keep ploughing forward.
Remember that what you have at the finish is a draft.

So, if you are reading this, were you tempted but didn't sign? Why not?

It is always good to push back the boundaries; we never know what we can accomplish if we don't try. But there are other ways, and I'll be covering these in later posts during the month. In the meantime let's consider quality rather than quantity. If you have a finished script, or a work in progress, this could be useful.

For a short period I'm offering a complete chapter of Reading A Writer's Mind... to anyone who signs on to my occasional Newsletter - see top of the page - and subsequent posts will carry a tip from the editing chapter of the book.

In the meantime, do leave a comment on the blog. I'd be interested to hear if you've undertaken NaNoWriMo in past years, or what you undertake as an alternative.


  1. Ah Linda, if you weren't a friend I would have to come in and prove many of your points are false. ;-) Okay, a bit of that: this is my 11th Nano year, I've won all but the first, one year I got to 97K without exhaustion, and I'm here reading this. Perhaps I'll go over to my own blog and do a counter post. In all fun, of course!

    1. Oh a counter post would be good. Go to it, girl, considering you seem to have the time!

    2. :-) http://lkhunsaker.blogspot.com/2014/11/if-you-dont-have-it-make-it-re-nanowrimo.html

    3. And reading Ella's counter post is *very* interesting. Fast Fingers Ella!

  2. NaNoWriMo is definitely not for the faint-hearted. Neither is it a route to a quality first draft. But for those of us who are pantsters anyway, it can be a useful device. I've had a go twice, churning out over 100k on the 1st and 83k on the second, if my memory serves me right. On the first try, I did actually produce a 'book', but I have yet to publish it, as it was missing serious elements. On the second try I used the discipline to finish an already started and well-planned third volume of a fantasy trilogy. You can read about my progress at http://stuartaken.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/november-was-nanowrimo-month-so-what.html#.VF8RnVOsXwM Would I try it again? Possibly, but only for a novelette, I think. Though the second challenge did help me get a trilogy completed and, after some significant work on that, it was most definitely ready for published - in fact, it's due out before Xmas.

  3. Thanks for adding in your experience, Stuart. It all helps others. I have to add that a straightforward novelette, even a novella without too many sub-plots or hidden themes, looks a decent prospect - for me, never mind a beginner.

    If I've done it correctly, here is Stuart's link, live: Stuart’s link