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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Deciding to do NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month...

The challenge: Write 50,000 words (100 pages TNR 12pt single spaced) in 30 days

The Pain: Writing 1,666 words every day

The Joy: A completed novel in one month

Is it worth it?


The answer is complicated, but aren't they all?

I've done NaNo two years now, 2009 will be my third attempt at the 50k goal. I've won every time I've entered and usually ended the month with more than 50k. I aim for a 3k/day goal to get a 75k book. Fifty thousand words is a wee bit short for a sci-fi novel unless you're doing YA or MG.

Here are the pros to doing NaNo:
1- A complete rough draft of a new novel in one month.
--> Even if you need 100k you have half a novel in November. Even if you don't reach 50k you have more than usual. My friend last year managed only 18k, but in an average month she only writes 5k. She tripled her output for a month. That's a huge advantage!

2- Form a habit.
--> This is the best part of NaNo, honestly. It trains you to sit down and write every day, rain or shine. It takes 30 days to form a habit and November is perfect for that.

3- You learn so much.
--> You do. You learn how to write around road blocks, how to deal with rough drafts, and how to write even when you aren't in the mood. I opened up my first NaNo attempt last night and read it over... it's far from perfect. Some scenes are laughable. But the pacing is good and I found myself reading the story for enjoyment until 1am. Not bad.

The excuses used to avoid NaNo:
1. Not enough time
--> People have this scary idea that writing 50k is going to eat up every free moment. It won't. Most people can write 500 words in under 15 minutes. That means you'll spend about 45 minutes meeting your NaNo quota every day. A slow writer might spend 90 minutes. The average person spends more time than that watching TV and writing Tweets in a day.

2. I can't fit it into my schedule
--> Really? Writing is like excercise. If you make the time, you'll always have the time. Write during commercials, or write your entire novel on Twitter (that could be fun).

3. I can't stay on task.
Name a writer who can! There are tricks for making NaNo work. Trust me, even the most ADD of us...ooo shiny! Oh... um, where was I? Right.... even the most ADD writer can focus long enough with the NaNo tools available. I have a whole list coming at you next week.

4. I can't think of a plot.
There are forums for that. And friends. And bags. And... you wouldn't believe how creative you can be until you try.

5. I'm afraid I'll fail.
Here's the nice thing about NaNo, there really isn't a way to fail. The idea is to write more than you normally would. Anything above and beyond is a success.

6. I hate rough drafts.
Most people do. That's okay. NaNo is about embracing the mistakes, riding a scene, and enjoying your characters. Your plot might diverge. You might find out 3/4ths of the way in that your antagonist is your protagonist. You might find a new genre you love to write. And that's a good thing.

7. I've never written a novel and I'm afraid people will make fun of me.
Ignore the hecklers. We'll send the plot bunnies to eat their shoes. It'll be fun!

8. I'm scared of the Traveling Shovel of Death
You should be! Bwhahahaha! Ahem... actually, NaNo challenges are a lot of fun. The challenge forums on the NaNoWriMo website can kick start scenes and give your plot fun twists. And, remember, you can always edit it later.

9. I don't want to waste time on writing junk.
So don't. Write something good. It can be done in thirty days, honest.

10. I know I won't write some days because of holidays/school/alien invasion.
I don't write on Sundays or over Thanksgiving. I figure the missing days into my planning and write more on the days I do write. Even writing 25 days I can manage 75k.

11. I'm working on another novel.
Hmmm.... this one almost works. Are you on a deadline with your agent or publisher? Are you ready to query? Are you really working or are you stalled out? If you aren't really making serious progress with your current novel consider giving it a month to stew and free your synapses with something new.

Any other excuses I need to shoot down?

Next week I'll post a tool box for surviving NaNo and a discussion on ways to outline!


  1. Great post :D I'm still waffling over NaNo, but I think I'll be doing it this year. I'll write something completely opposite of my WiP, just to give me a break, from both the genre and the story.

    Love your site - spent some time last night reading through the back entries.

    Courtney Johnson

  2. Great post! I'm doing it this year for the first time. It's a fairly big thing to add my List, since there's not a lot thst I can cut out to make more room for it, but I think it might make me develop some much-needed extra discipline even if my end product isn't that great.

  3. *slides in ninja-like* I must point out it should be 1667 words a day. Even if I like the triple-six better. *coughs*

    Annnnyway, great post. ;)

  4. ...The word verification here is 'reliv'. Anyone else find that ominous? O:)

    Anyway, Nano! yay! Shoot down those excuses! Go, L! *bounce bounce bounce*

    Yes, I get way too excited about Nano. Your point? O:)

  5. Courtney- I'm so glad you like the blog!

    Chris- I've seen you on Twitter, you have enough time to write a novel.

    Merc- Fine, whatever, 1,667. I aim for 2-3k a day so the novel actually gets finished. But, since you're better at math than I am I'll believe you.

    Inky- What are you writing for NaNo?

  6. I agree with absolutely everything you've written today! NaNo rules.

  7. I think I tallied it once, and 1667 gets you like 50k and ten words, but one less a day and you lose some words so... :P

    (I'm aiming for 2k a day too.)

  8. I'm waffling on this since I'm halfway through the first draft of a WIP (first in a planned series), but you've given me something to consider. Perhaps I could pound out a draft of the second book in the series. Hmmm...must ponder...

  9. Great post! I love how well you shoot down those excuses-all the ones I've heard about not doing Nano. This will be my first year and I'm VERY Excited!! I can't wait to start!!

    I'm a horrible write/delete person and my self-discipline, ummmmmm

    So-I'm hoping nano whips me into shape!! :)