Who’s Ready for NaNoWriMo?!

Saturday, October 31, 2015

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with National Novel Writing Month, fondly known as NaNoWriMo, since my first attempt in 2009. Tomorrow, November 1st, will mark the start of the 17th annual event in which writers worldwide attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in just 30 days.

No need to pull out your calculators because I’ve done the math for you: that’s 1,667 words per day.

My initial thought about NaNoWriMo was that it would be a breeding ground for a lot of terrible writing. Write, write, write, write, write and don’t think too much about it or you’ll run out of time! No time to contemplate or craft or agonize over the exact right word to describe the shape of your protagonist’s eyebrows.

But my friends were doing it, so I thought I’d try it, too.

I have tried – and failed – at NaNoWriMo twice. In 2012, I made it to about 30,000 words, my best attempt to date. And my initial thoughts were confirmed: it did elicit a lot of bad, bad writing.

But it also elicited a lot of really good ideas, a lot of excitement and energy, and it rekindled my fire for novel writing.

In bits and pieces over the next three years, I molded those 30,000 words into a nearly 70,000 words novel draft of which I am very proud. So did I “fail” at NaNoWriMo? I don’t see it like that. At least not anymore.

How many of those 30,000 words from the NaNoWriMo draft still remain in today’s draft? Well, I’m sure there are some similar words, as there are similar themes and similar characters, but the story now is very different, as it should be. It is the months (ahem, years) after NaNoWriMo in which you’re meant to craft and polish and shine the words that vomit from your pen (or keyboard, probably) in November.

So, who’s going to try it this year? Who has tried it previously? What have your experiences been like? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

I’m still undecided if I'll attempt it this year, but I still have a few hours left to decide...

Here are some resources to help you make your NaNo decision:

Ruminations by Anne Greenawalt


Sioux Roslawski said...


I've tried three or four times... I've lost count. One year, I crashed and burned within the first week. Yikes!

One year I got to the 50,000 mark and thought I had something worthwhile, but in actuality, it was a steaming pile of poop.

However, that stinky first draft was the skeleton for my current WIP, which is now 75,043 words strong. I tore most of the flesh and muscle off, trimmed off the fat (hopefully) and transformed the characters into more fictional beings. (They were too close to the truth.)

In the one year that I succeeded, I avoided contractions like the plague, since "do not" is two words but "don't" is only word. In NaNoWriMo size DOES matter...

Good luck if you choose to accept the 2015 NaNoWriMo mission. I will continue to work on my NaNo from several years ago... with the hope that it will be finished someday.

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