Friday, December 3, 2010

What I learned During NaNoWriMo

During the month of November, I was involved with NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I’m one of those people who perform better if I’m accountable to other writers who actually expect me to stay in my chair and write.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write a book in 30 days. 50K words isn’t really that much if you break it down. It’s less than 2 thousand words a day. But there are a lot of days in your average month that make writing anything coherent downright impossible. Take Thanksgiving for example, not to mention the days of shopping, cleaning, and preparing that lead up to it. Many of us have kids and spouses and full time jobs and appointments and pets that want walked.

Sundays are hard for me. I attend church twice on that day, and spend the few hours between services watching the Bengals lose, spending time with family and napping…not necessarily in that order. There were several NaNoWriMo days in which my word count was 0. That meant on the other days I really needed to produce. No procrastinating. No waiting for inspiration. No distractions. I had to fasten my rear to the chair and write even when I’d rather watch TV or take another nap.

The best thing about NaNoWriMo is the sense of urgency to put words on the page. On the NaNo page you can become writing buddies with your fellow scribes. As I mentioned earlier, when I am accountable to someone I don’t want to let them down. Nor did I want to let my book down, or even myself.

November flew by while I jammed away on my keyboard. I even learned a thing or two along the way. 50K words don’t get written by thinking about it. You wont’ put the words on the page by talking about it or discussing your project or telling everyone where you’re going to spend your advance once a publisher offers you a contract.

I’m happy to announce I reached my 50K words by the 22nd. At the end of the month I had logged over 70K words onto my NaNo profile. If you’re not ready to think about publication NaNo is a great exercise to learn discipline and tenacity. The best way to master anything is to do it. If you are already published or seeking that elusive book contract, you might still need the discipline NaNo brings.

Best of all, you might end up with a pretty decent novel or at least something to build on. You never know. This might be the one to land you on the New York Times bestseller list. Or at least teach you that writing a novel is hard work but worth the effort.


Tracy Krauss said...

It was great to hear about your NaNo experience. This year was the first time for me and I highly recommend it for all the reasons you stated.

Cecelia Dowdy said...

It sounds like NANO is a perfect way to discipline that'll be used once you're a published author. Writing while under deadline is pretty close to what NANO is like, except, you'd probably push yourself a tiny bit more on those zero days if you've got a contract in hand. Great blog post.

Kim Teamer said...

Thanks for your NaNo reflections. I could relate.

Tea said...

Is it once a year?

Molly Noble Bull said...


Anonymous said...

I tried this one time. Loveswept was having a contest, and you had one month to send in your novel. Since I didn't have one ready and waiting to be sent, I decided to write one during that month. I managed, but it was rough. Definitely, there was that urgency to get words on the page even when there weren't any words in the head.