13 October 2011

Considering NaNoWriMo

Image: digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Everyone is talking about NaNaWriMo. For once I'm at a place with an MS (i.e. in the very early stages) where I might benefit from taking part. As you can see by the little counter on the right, I'm nearly 5,000 words into my new historical novel, with those words being a mix of scenes and outlined chapters from throughout the book (though mainly the first half). I could use some motivation and support to get into the nitty-gritty and get the thing really going.

I'm a little worried about having to be quite so consistent though, as I'm really more of a pantser. Sometimes I'll write like a crazy woman as scenes roll through my brain uninterrupted, but other times I'll need a few days or a week to mull over particular plot arcs or characters. The time away is required for the next bolt of inspiration to strike.

Before November 1 I'm going to attempt to do a more thorough outline, so that I have some kind of roadmap. The problem is that most of the time I get my ideas for future scenes as I'm writing, or in the mulling time afterwards. Plus sometimes when I'm outlining I can't resist writing scenes, and then I have to go back afterwards and fill in the gaps. Being able to say what happens throughout the whole book before I do any proper sequential writing is unlikely. It would be nice if my process could work that way, but I can't really see it working.

So I don't think I'll get near the 50k, but maybe 30k will be a good goal for me. 30k for 3 months and I'll have a finished draft. 

Apparently the next step is to register at the official site... but I'm not sure if that will be counter-productive, as the forums may just turn out to be a distraction? And I might feel like an under-achiever when I don't crack the 50k. If you've done it before, would you recommend registering? Have you "won"? Did you end up finishing and/or submitting the novel?


  1. I've done it three times before and the benefits have been amazing. What it really does, more than anything else, is give you a legitimate excuse to put writing first for an entire month.

    I find during the rest of the year people in my life generally don't think of me writing as anything more than a way to pass the time (since I have a full day job in addition). During November I can say to them all, "Look, I'm taking part in this Thing. It's a challenge and I have to finish and I won't if I get distracted by other stuff." And they have to accept that. I'm not rejecting them, I'm just committed to something else.

    I find I'm also sometimes guilty of putting other things first, and NaNo gives me permission to concentrate on writing for an entire month.

    There are plenty of other benefits too, which I mentioned in this blog post: http://bit.ly/qUny14

    The point of all of it being that it's less about what you write or how you write and more about the coping and writing mechanisms you learn during that time.

    My process is also usually to go through phases of radical writing, which is also why I think NaNo is a good thing because it makes it more of a commitment. In terms of registering on the sight, definitely do it. I don't find the forums distracting, but I find it really helps to see how far others are. Also they're a great help with the most random things like "what cigars would my character smoke?" and "I don't know how to solve this problem".

  2. Thanks for the advice tallyunlikely! I'm off to read your blog post. I signed up today, so it's offical!

  3. I tried it for the first time last year and failed miserably, and yet I'm contemplating going through the whole thing again... I think the most important thing is to concentrate on just getting the words down without really worrying where they end up, something that I couldn't manage last year, but I think realising it is key. There's no time to edit - just have to get the words out! The whole challenge is a great motivator as well... yep, think I might be signing up again. Good luck with it, you'll have to keep us updated! :)