NaNo always tempts me, I’m not going to lie. It sounds so simple to tuck in 50,000 words in a month’s time. What’s 1500 teeny tiny words a day? If I do it, I’ll have half a novel complete already! It’s great discipline and a way to either finish something I’m halfway through, or start something that’s been teasing me! (Rules say start something from scratch, but whatever – I’m a rebel.)


Look, I am all for people figuring out Butt In Chair Time. It’s the key to success in a lot of ways – having the discipline to sit the hell down, write, and finish something takes a certain mindset, and we all have to get there somehow. If NaNo is going to teach you that, you should do it, but I don’t think it’s gonna work for me for a myriad of reasons (beyond the obvious one of “I’m already productive re: word count”). Having to produce over 1500 words per day is going to force me to either THINK AND PLOT REALLY FAST or . . . add in filler to get my word count per day. I dunno, man. Would I rather write 3,000 words a week and know where those 3,000 words are going? That they’re quality? Or would I rather write a frantic 7,500 of potential shitty shit? And if they’re shitty shit, isn’t it going to take me a really long time to edit what I just produced, therein negating the fast and frantic mad dash of the original 50,000 sprint?

If I had to conjure a guess as to how NaNo would go for me, it’d be something like this.

1) Write the words IF I can cram that much word count into a day.
2) End the month, wipe brow, have momentary feeling of SUCCESS I DID IT. Hope that by putting off project already under way I haven’t killed my momentum with it.
3) Realize there’s still another 50,000 words to write to finish said book and I’m only halfway done and burnt out. Well, crap.
4) Reread what I wrote and see that it’s not top grade stuff. I’m going to have to rework a third of it, cut a third of it, and preserve a third of it, which means I only really have 15,000 viable words and there’s 85,000 words left to produce or rewrite to make a decent story.
5) Toss my hands up in the air in frustration and wonder why I didn’t just do what I do, which is make it National Novel Writing /YEAR/.

I know there are success stories out there about NaNo authors getting pub deals. From what I understand, Erin Morgenstern wrote the first incarnation of The Night Circus during NaNo. What people aren’t saying is that she scrapped that entire draft and started fresh later on, but hey . . . the seed was born.

Of course, I could NaNo just so I can write my Wicked Queen story.

. . . it’d be an excuse to pork another story behind the shed.

Damn it.

Anyway, are you NaNo’ing? Are you starting something fresh? Continuing a current project? Are you outlining in advance? TALK NANO, PEOPLES.

6 thoughts on “NaNo

  1. I’ve been debating… I don’t know if I really have time/energy for and yet it is a good way to force myself into making writing a priority, which it isn’t right now. In fact, I really haven’t written much since NaNo THREE years ago. Yeah, I’m a slacker with a million excuses.

  2. Oh god, NaNo. I forgot it was coming. Is it here already? Shit.

    1) You are not allowed to story-pork, so just forget about it right this second, young lady. Borealis first.

    2) I have found many excuses the last year not to cultivate Butt In Chair time. I could probably use the butt-kicking NaNo gives me, but I also don’t want to burn out and wind up with a half-cooked baby like last year. By baby I mean story, in case that was questionable. Actually, I think everything I do is questionable, so never mind.

    3) Still, it would be great to do it again. The sense of accomplishment that came from overcoming soul-crushing mental fatigue was–wait, why did I do it again? Oh, right. I was in love with that poor little story. I still am. That first ‘book’ is like a first kiss, in that it’s awkward and embarrassing and probably covered with spit, but you’ll never forget it.

    So I’m thinking that I’d rather just run parallel to NaNo on my own. I can write something at my own pace every day that month, but I’ll be furthering my current project instead of a fumbling literary grope.

  3. See, the thing I like about NaNo is that it gets people sitting and writing. In that regard, I don’t have TOO much of a problem with that. What I’m afraid of is people thinking that’s how the writing process IS SUPPOSED TO GO. It’s not. It’s really not. Taking longer to produce something worthwhile is not a crime and, in fact, is encouraged. Lit agents sorta dread the sludge they see in their inboxes post NaNo. I’ve read a couple blogs where they’re just like OH GOD.

  4. I did NaNo last year. I “won,” by meeting/exceeding the 50K goal. I even bought a tee shirt (never worn) and a coffe mug (used semi-regularly). Put the badge on my blog (removed last week). Yay?

    The story has promise, but I’ve rewritten a lot of it, and that which is not yet rewritten, will be, because it needs to be. NaNo was my first serious effort at writing something more than flash fiction, and for me, it was a success, just because of what I learned (and what I’m still learning).

    However, the ending I wrote was weak (and didn’t really resolve anything); my MC was even weaker; what little conflict there was, was too easily resolved. So yeah: lots of things need to be fixed.

    So will I do NaNo this year? Notwithstanding the fact we’ll be gone for a week over Thanksgiving, no, I won’t be doing NaNo. I think I took away most, if not all, I can learn from that particular exercise. Certainly one thing I learned is that writing is something I enjoy, but it’s not my passion, as it is for others. Perhaps someday it will be, but that day isn’t here.

    Besides, I have other projects to keep me plenty busy. Maybe I’ll commit to finishing the copyediting of Tami’s Choose, Vol. 2 by the end of November. 🙂

    • I imagine getting the word count in must feel great, yeah. You can sit back and say you scaled a literary Mount Everest.

      See, what I’m wondering about it reading your comment, Steve, is whether or not it burnt you on the process and made you think you didn’t have the passion when you might? Cause I dunno – most writers I know don’t put out 50,000 a month. I think that’s sorta freakish and shooting for the moon. Full time freelancers MAYBE, but I’m not even sure if they pull that. Over-saturation of a delightful hobby can make it feel like a job instead of the good time thing it’s supposed to be.

  5. Every year I think about it, and usually do some form of participation, but I’ve never actually finished it. Last year I aimed to write some short stories, got partway, and never finished any of them. I’d like to go back to a couple, but I just don’t know about the breakneck pace it would require.

    This is, however, the first time in nine years I’m not travelling at the start of the month, so I dunno. I know 50K is unrealistic for me, but the temptation to try to produce something by the end of November is definitely there. It’ll depend on where I’m at with Gid by the time 11/1 rolls around, I think.

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