Friday, 15 October 2010

Will I NaNoWriMo or Won’t I NaNoWriMo?

nanowrimo zombie Pictures, Images and Photos
created by tempestwithin

I’ve read quite a few comments/posts lately from those who really can’t decide whether to go the NaNoWriMo route. It is a daunting choice. I participated for the first time last year and think it is a fantastic idea. I know we’re all busy with SO many other projects, but I’ve been trying to ‘clear the decks’ for awhile so I’ve not got ‘too many irons in the fire’ during NaNovember. Unfortunately whilst clearing the decks I've managed to pick up even more projects! Phew!

But I wouldn't miss doing NaNoWriMo and I'd like to help you make your decision. When I joined up last year it was at the end of October so I had no time to pre-plan but that didn't matter in the end. 

Here is some advice that I was given when I was starting out that I think is timely advice if you're struggling with indecision:

1) It's okay to not know what you're doing. Really. You've read a lot of novels, so you're completely up to the challenge of writing one. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do so. But it's also fine to just wing it. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you're not sure what that story might be right now.

2) Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December. Think of November as an experiment in pure output. Even if it's hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn't. Every book you've ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

3) Tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who've had to hear about your novel for the past month. Seriously. Email them now about your awesome new book. The looming spectre of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

4) There will be times you'll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through. Week Two can be hard. Week Three is much better. Week Four will make you want to yodel.

And we're talking the good kind of yodelling here.

5) Ignore or adjust the above points to suit your style. I find it seriously upsetting to ignore ugly prose and typos as I write, so I don't adhere slavishly to this advice. I do understand the psychology of it.

Okay, so now after the little pep talk, if you decide to sign up, buddy up with me and all your other blogging friends. There’s a great support system out there. Once you join your region you’ll see there’s so much work being done for you – on planning your outline, plotting, characterisation, even research.

There's also bloggers with planning helpers in progress - I'm using for some great tips. WriteOnCon has heaps of stuff too.

Go NaNoWriMo!

PS My region (Brisbane) is having its Kick Off Party BBQ at Roma Street Parklands on October 31st, so if you live in/around Brissie come along! Then there'll be write-ins each week, giveaways, can you resist?


  1. Awesome! I'm still on the fence to or not to just to get out my new idea but I can't honestly say I have a reason not to do it anymore.

  2. Well, if you decide to, I'm doing it. I'm at clarissa draper.


  3. Colene - just do it! And buddy up with Clarissa too!

  4. Great post! And NaNoWritMo is a great program. Thanks for passing along this info to all of us writers.


  5. this advice is brilliant! it's my first time doing nano and i'm a little scared - especially as i don't know what i am going to be writing about yet :)

    i think it will be hard to turn off my inner editor but it will hopefully be liberating!


  6. John, thanks, and yours was great too..:)

    Nomes: Of course it's gonna be hard whether you prepare or not. Great that you're on board..:)

  7. I'm still torn over whether or not to do it. I'm outlining a novel just in case I do decide to do it.

  8. Jeffrey, do it. You won't be sorry!

  9. Good luck and have a blast doing Nano!

  10. Lydia: Thanks.

    Alex: Yes, I know. I've added you as a buddy. I'm parisden.

  11. I just added you as a NaNo buddy! Yeah, I have no earthly idea of what I'm going to write about. I have a main character... who still has no name. But I have a vague idea of what she looks like. That's about it.

  12. Su: Do a character list answering these questions:

    • The character's name
    • A one-sentence summary of the character's storyline
    • The character's motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
    • The character's goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
    • The character's conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
    • The character's epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
    • A one-paragraph summary of the character's storyline

    Hope that helps for now. Do go to Dawn Embers site and do some planning there..:)

  13. Good advice and thanks for promoting my blog here. :-D

    One thing to remember about nanowrimo is that even if you don't make 50,000 words, it is still an improvement. My second year I only made it to 14,000 words but that was 14k more than I had before I'd started. That book is now in rewrite and getting ready to submit to agents hopefully next year.

  14. Great post L'Aussie. I'm so there, not sure whether to NaNo or not to Nano. Guess I won't know until right at the last second ;)


  15. Hi,

    I did Nano the first year it got started, really for the hell of it.

    Switching off partial editor was the hardest part, and just get writing no matter what. While doing it I had a friend also participating and he got a little bored and decided to play devils advocate to see if it mattered what was written!

    The bastard proved it didn't make sod all difference, because all he did was bash away on the keyboard - spacing naturally as though words - but the text was total gibberish and he still got the aclaim "Well Done" you've successfully written a novel.
    Hence I didn't bother the next year, but it did teach me I could bash out a novel in the allotted time, and could easily knock out four per year! The thing is, an electronic assessor can only read binal code it can't actually identify words as words, it counts the digits. ;)

    It's another great way of meeting new people though.


  16. Dawn: You're doing good work. I think NaNo is a great way to push yourself..:)

    Rachael: Hope you hop on board..:)

    Francine: I knew that! Apparently some people write 'nada' 50,000 times. What's the point?

  17. I love the idea: tell everyone you know that you're writing a novel in November ... not wanting to look like a failure is a great motivator lol.

    And who doesn't want a few more cheerleaders in their corner :D

  18. Congrats for completing last year's and for signing up! I'd love to do it but it's just not on the cards this year.

    PS- If I haven't already said thanks (I'm starting to lose my mind), then THANKS for posting the badge to my web splash! Much appreciated!

  19. not edit as you true pertaining to any writing project. Write the thing...there's all of eternity for editing:)

  20. I'll be doing it this year as well. I'm adding you as a buddy Clarissa and l'aussie are you under l'hussie?
    My nano name is : ladywriter1 if anyone wants to add me.

  21. I'll be there with you! I just buddied up with you. Good luck!

  22. Erica, yeah, funny. I don't tell too many people..:)

    Talli: Thanks for the thanks. I'm sure you're too busy this year!

    Elliot: Yeah but that's tough..:)

    Summer: I am parisden. I'll buddy up if I haven't already..:)

    Julie: Great. Here's to NaNo..:)

  23. LOL; I took a week off from blogging to finish a beta read/critique. Somehow during that time I managed to pick up three more "short reads".

    What part of "focus on only one project at a time" did I not understand?

    Well, I am not indecisive about NaNo. I know I haven't the time. I'd have to take the entire month off my day job.

    But I'd sure like to participate. I think it an excellent idea, and anyone who can participate should challenge themselves.

    Good luck to you, and everyone else who elects to pick up the gauntlett.


  24. Donna, you do sound busy. I know how hard NaNo is, but I relish it..:)

  25. Oh my gosh.....I'm literally shaking. I think I'm gonna do it. I need the accountability. What do I do?

  26. I did it!!!! I'm all signed up and now accountable....yikes! I even talked a friend into it!

  27. Words Crafter: Welcome on board! Join me?

  28. Fantastic! I'm doing my first NaNo this year. Gulp. You can find me under shatnerstupee.

  29. I'm another of the undecideds (and I'm running out of time to decide!). I've got lots of projects on too, but I'm sure I could concentrate on those during the day and write the novel instead of watching the TV in the evening. I'll see. (I'm velvetcupcake if I *do* do it).

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