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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)

23 October 2013


 by Dan Gleibitzon at The Verge

Each year, hundreds of thousands of regular people pledge to write a novel. In a month. And that month is November, which is also known as NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

In the words of the organisers:

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to creative writing. On November 1, participants begin working towards the goal of writing a 50,000-word novel by 11:59 p.m. on November 30. Valuing enthusiasm, determination, and a deadline, NaNoWriMo is for anyone who has ever thought fleetingly about writing a novel.

It’s a pretty simple premise. Just write 1,667 words per day, each day, for a month. At the end of the month, you’ll have a novel, or something approximately like one.

NaNoWriMo is also a (totally optional) fundraiser for the purpose of promoting writing around the world.


2013 will be my fourth NaNoWriMo. The first two went fairly well for me, resulting in manuscripts quite a bit larger than the 50k word goal. Last year I stumbled and ran out of steam before I hit 20k.

My writing is still pretty bad. My plots are pulpy and cliched. But I find the forced productivity very satisfying, and it’s nice to look back at stuff I wrote years ago and find that it’s not all as awful as I thought it was.

So, is anybody else on board? What’s your story this year? Plotter or pantser?

Read the rest here and for more info on NaNoWriMo click here.

From Guest Blogger Randall

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43 Comments to “National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)”

  1. Did it in 2006, and then had kids, which made it a lot more difficult to do. But I think I’m going to give it another shot this year. I might even hit some local events.

    At any rate, I recommend it, especially for writers who are just starting out. It can really kickstart productive work habits.

  2. NaNo was how I learned that what I wrote didn’t have to be perfect and actually finished a book. That was eight years ago. I “won” several years in a row, then, as I started writing on a more serious, regular basis, November turned out not to be such a good time for me. I always seemed to be in the middle of writing or revising something else.
    This year I’m going to try to complete the first draft of the first in a new mystery series I’ve wanted to write for years. As I furiously try to organize all those vague thoughts floating around in my head, I’m watching the calendar and wondering if I’m going to actually have a plot before November 1st.

  3. I first did NaNoWriMo in 2003. I won. It (eventually) turned into my first novel (Pay Me, Bug!, available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iTunes OK I’M SHUTTING UP NOW). I’ve done NaNoWriMo every year since — won 5, lost 4. We’ll see if this puts me in 6 out of 10 or 50%. Right now it looks more like I’ll drop to 50/50, but even the years that I lose I find I wind up getting something out of it I can use later on.

    Which is the main thing for me: not everything I work on comes out of NaNoWriMo, but everything I’ve done for NaNoWriMo has turned into something I work on. It’s an incredibly useful productivity crucible for me.

  4. I’m so looking forward to next week! NaNo has been a pipe dream since I was transferred to a mall store four years ago. Trying to write a novel during New Hallothanksmas insanity? Not possible.

    Pumpkin pie, chocolate, caffeine, and a new fun project to start? *squee*

    • There are two Nanowrimo camp months, May and July I think. Same setup, but free to set your own word goal.

      • Sorry, Tina, I left out the fact that I quit the day job and I’m writing full-time now. I did the July camp one year. The only thing missing from the camps is leftover Halloween candy. :grin:

      • I did both camps for the first time this year and they were so much fun. The private cabin was the best feature and I wish they could do something similar with the main event.

  5. I look forward to this month all year long. Thinking of what projects I want to write for it. Preparing the outlines. Having fun with other writers. There’s something amazingly energizing about writing along with thousands of other writers all across the world at the same time.

    Back in 2007, NaNo proved to me that I could finish a book, all at one go, and darn it, it wasn’t that bad! I learned how to turn off the internal critical voice, which I had never succeeded in doing before. Learning that has had the longest-lasting effect on me. It’s something some writers never learn to shut off. I thank Nano for teaching me how.

    Every year, Nano has resulted in first drafts that are worthy of revision and publication. I think 6 of mine are now available? Hmm, might have to recount. But, not right now. I’m in the midst of getting outlines ready for THIS Nano, and I don’t wan to get distracted!

    Yes, I’m one of those annoying Nano overachievers. :P

    Bring on Nano!

  6. Love NaNo. I only began (and finished) once. This year I have to do it because my son’s 8th grade English class is doing NaNo. They write a shorter book, but the prep is awesome. I was looking at the worksheets the teacher sent home–outlining plot, conflict, setting, character–and I was shocked how good they were. Turned out the school district had nothing to do with it: NaNoWriMo prepares the sheets to encourage kids to write.

    Anyhoo: can’t wait. I have to set a good example for the kiddo.

    • And THIS is why it helps to donate to NaNoWriMo if you can–to support their Youn Writers Program. If you can’t directly donate, or want to make a bigger donation, you can round up some sponsers to pay you X per word, or X per hundred words, or whatever works. Then donate the funds to Nano. This sounds like SUCH a great program!

  7. Can you help me? hi there everyone, as always such good insights you give. I’d not known of NNWM before [i keep thinking its nonowomo, lol] and I’d like to try it but not sure I am doing it right? I signed up and my name is Archangel007 [thought often I feel like archangel zero minus five, lol] Can you help me understand

    1. writing buddy?
    2. I wrote in on the nanowomo page where they asked for synopsis and a few paras and the title. I wonder if I wrote too much re the public paras part? I wrote the whole concept.Is that alright, or too much, or?

    Can you help me?
    Much appreciated.

  8. I’ve written two novels during NaNoWrimo. The first, “The 15th Star,” the year I won, and the second, “Angel in the Storm,” is currently optioned for a major movie, through Motion Picture Pro Studios and is now in movie development.
    Last year we (Indie Authors with host Jason Matthews) interviewed Grant Faulkner, the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo.org, and you can watch the interview here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUesdYTU8Uo

  9. My first year at NaNoWriMo was 2007. I trashed that novel in 2010, because it was HORRIBLE. I published one of my 2008 NaNo novels in 2010 (Deadlands Hunt-I ran out of steam on the first one after 12 days), and my 2009 one (Arcane Solutions) in 2012.

    I didn’t win in 2010, and can’t even remember what I tried to write, thanks to a super evil day job and back injury. But I’ve won the other five years and have three more novels to finish and publish at some point thanks to it.

    I’ll be doing it this year too. My NaNo handle is Scath. =)

  10. I participated in 2005 and 2006, but never since. (Didn’t “win” either year, and haven’t finished off those projects, though one is sure-fire going to be finished off. Mixed feelings about the other – not because I don’t like it, but because I think I need to rework the world setting to feel comfortable doing so.)

    I haven’t participated in so long that the NaNoWriMo site seems to have deleted my profile. Oops. Oh well. Was able to sign back up with the same username as always (klawzie), so it still worked out.

    Decided to try again this year just because I know I can easily make the word count (I struggled with it in ’05 and ’06 – so progress!). The problem is the daily habit thing and I’m hoping that this will make it more of an incentive to do so.

  11. I’m giving it a go this year as well. I signed up last year, but barely started before having to give up because of life reasons. Going to make a fresh start this year and I am excited!

    My username over there is Fionnuala Alphroval.

  12. I’m doing an unofficial NaNoWriMo for myself, because I’m nearly finished with one WIP and I want to move on to the second story in the trilogy in November (but I’ve already started on it). I’m taking off virtually all of November to do this; however, I gather you’re not supposed to already have a work in progress when you participate officially. I wish I could, because I think it would be as good for me as it has been for all of you. Good luck to you all!

    • You know, there’s no such thing as the NaNo Police. And I haven’t seen the actual rule that says you can’t work on a WIP. I’m doing it, and so are many friends (my novels tend to run about 100K words, so NaNo is only half a novel for me anyway). I have another friend planning to do 25 2000-word short stories. Another planning two novellas (which he’ll consolidate for word counting purposes). And really, isn’t the spirit of NaNo just to fling rules to the winds and write? I’m “officially” doing it, and doing it my way. Write 50,000 words in 30 days and to the devil with the rule makers.

      • Grant Faulkner, (the Executive Director of NaNoWriMo)calls those of us who put in 50K words of a WIP “Nano rebels.” He only requests we don’t take the “free” copies from Create Space.

        My first two years I did it the correct way, starting fresh with 0 words. But I have done one year as a rebel. I never requested the free copies since, for me, the whole point is to make sure I get 50k out in one month.

      • Thank you, this cheers me. I just signed up; I’m Dragonflydamsel.

        For some reason I thought NaNo was similar to a “Journalism Olympics” I did in high school (took 2nd place), where you really did write from scratch. So thank you for the clue train tickets. For my WIP I challenged myself to only go to 120K, but it looks like I’m going to go over. C’est la vie.

        I used to have the spirit of NaNo when I was younger, then I think I let the rules take over too much. Now I’m determined to get back to my NaNo-self. Prognosis is hopeful.

  13. My first NaNo was in 2007 and I’ve done it ever since. I LOVE it! My region is very active, posting on our forum and having many, many write-ins. I spend more time socializing in November than any other month (or several months combined).

    I’ve won every year, and published two of my NaNo novels with a third coming out shortly.

    This year I’m writing a YA Paranormal Bromance. :)

  14. I did my first NaNo last year. I got only about 10k done, but that was still 10k more than I had had before, so it was all to the good. But the best part was travelling from the UK to Boston in November because of work and being able to meet five NaNoers there at a write-in one evening. That was brilliant.

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