Is NaNoWriMo Worth it?

There are naysayers, who claim that writing a novel in just 30 days is a cheap tactic – that the writing that results from National Novel Writing Month is terrible and that it doesn’t encourage good writing.NaNoWriMo

I disagree. Yes, the writing that results from frantically writing 50,000 words in just 30 days can be awful but that is why the next 30 or 60 days that follow NaNoWriMo should be for rewriting, and revising. Once those 50,000 words are finished, the work is not done! That may put you on the right track toward a complete novel, 50,000 words does not a novel make.

For those who don’t agree with NaNo, and for those who have thought about participating but might be on the fence, here’s what makes NaNoWriMo great:

  • It encourages daily writing habits. The naysayers say that REAL writers should be writing every single day no matter what, not just during the month of November, and to a point,
    I agree. I do try to write every day and I believe that A Writer Writes. But many writers know what a difficult goal this can be to attain. NaNoWriMo gives me a goal and a deadline. Does it make me less of a writer to get excited about Nano when I should be writing everyday anyhow? Absolutely not. The excitement of NaNoWriMo reminds me not only why I write but why I need to do it every day.
  • It encourages setting word count goals. 1,677 words a day is not a daily word count goal that typically works for me and my writing routine. In November, I set everything else aside to write as much as possible in order to make that 50,000 word goal. It helps me set my sights higher and learn that I can write 1,700 or even 3,000 words in one day if I really focus and make the time for it.
  • It’s a great method for us writers to get out of our own way and get words onto the page. Writing a novel is an overwhelming, time consuming and – at times – daunting task. With a word count goal and limited time in which to reach it, there isn’t much time to stress over details. Instead, we must plough through and worry about the details later.
  • It allows us to explore an idea or a set of character without taking up too much time. With only 30 days to write a novel, NaNoWriMo is a great time to flesh out that character that has been in the back of your mind for a while or try out that plot you’ve been thinking about but weren’t sure where it would go. Writing quickly allows to explore ideas and see where they take us. When an idea doesn’t work out, I don’t feel too bad at the end of the month for only have spent a few weeks working on it. It feels good to know I tried without wasting months and months of my time. And on the flip side, if you like where the story is going, you have a draft of a novel in the works!
  • It helps us connect with other writers – During November, I know there are a whole lot of other writers out there who are going through the same thing I am and trying to reach the same goals. I love the sense of community NaNo offers, whether it is a virtual community through the NaNo site and social media, or a local community through write-ins.
  • It encourages writing for all one-day novelists NaNoWriMo reinvigorates us writers who are supposedly at this everyday while also invigorating young writers who could be playing video games or perusing Facebook but are instead trying to write 50,000 words in thirty days. Nano encourages people, young and old, to attempt their first novel, regardless of whether it ever gets published. For those who decide to try their hand at writing during National Novel Writing Month, even if they fail or they write 39,543 words of garbage they did something probably few of their friends would even attempt.

What are your thoughts about writing a novel in 30 days? Is it worth it or is it just a cheap tactic for wannabe writers?

If you will be participating in NaNoWriMo, please comment below! I’d love to hear from you and keep up with how you are doing in November!

This Week: What I’m Reading, What I’m Writing

Inspired by the New Hampshire Writer’s Network Live to Write – Write to Live blog, I’ve decided to start my own regular posts about what I’m currently reading in books, audiobooks and blogs, and what I’m working on in my writing. I hope to make this a regular (weekly or biweekly) feature on the blog.

I hope you’ll share what interesting things you’re reading and writing in the comments, and please feel free to link back to your own blog!

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What I’m Reading

Falling to EarthI picked up Falling to Earth, a debut novel by Kate Southwood. The story is set in 1925 and centers around the Graves family. Paul Graves and his young family are the only ones who still have everything after a devastating tornado flattens their fictional town of Marah, Illinois.

When I read the description of this book, I just knew I had to read it. I can hardy put it down.

 


What I’m Writing

With NaNoWriMo approaching, I’ve started preparing for my NaNo novel. I’m mostly freewriting to get to know my characters. Last year, my struggle was that I didn’t feel I knew my characters well enough to tell their story. I fizzled out about halfway to the 50,000 word goal. This year, I’m preparing and on November 1st, I’m going to start over. This time, I’ll tell the story from a different perspective. I’ll be blogging about my progress!

 

My Favorite Quote of the Week

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
–  Louis L’Amour

 

Blogs and findings around the Interwebs

Your Writer’s Mind
I loved this relatable post from blogger Jamie Lee Wallace about the mind of a writer.

5 Ways to Write Like Your Hair is on Fire
On the Today’s Author blog, I love Jacqui Murray’s suggestion to “Write everything as though I have a deadline that must be met.”

Writers, you’ll appreciate these 10 Thing Writers are Tired of Hearing

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Read any good books lately? Are you preparing for NaNoWriMo? Share your reading and writing adventures in the comments, and feel free to link back to your own blog!

NaNoWriMo : Not a Win, but not a Failure

I had hoped to start a winning streak. After experiencing the joy, the relief, and the satisfaction of winning NaNoWriMo last year, I was hopeful I could do it two years in a row. But I didn’t even come close.

I started out strong the first week. I was committed to making time for multiple writing sessions to write 1,667 (and often more) words each day. I started to struggle around the 18,000 word mark. I got through the excitement of the first few chapter and found myself unable to determine what happened next. I had a rough idea, I had an overall outline but it wasn’t enough. I had hoped the plot would come to me as I wrote, that I’d be able to write my way through the mushy middle of the story. But I was stuck.

I felt my trouble was that I didn’t know my characters well enough yet. How could I know where the story was going without truly knowing who my characters were at their core? So I started on a blank page and started writing journal-style from the points of view of my different characters. I got a few thousand more words out of that and got to know them a bit better in the process. But I still didn’t know how my characters were getting to where  I saw the story ending. And that’s when I knew I wasn’t going to reach 50,000 words this year. Instead, I made it about halfway to the goal.

Looking back at last year’s Nano, where I broke the rules by writing a work-in-progress rather than starting a new story from scratch, it was much easier to get to those 50,000 words because I was so familiar with my characters and their stories. Those characters have been with me for years, from their humble beginnings in a short story I wrote in a writing workshop years ago. My characters for this year’s Nano are still new to me. They are like new friends I am still getting to know. I haven’t given up on them, or their story. I just need to spend some time with them, and get to know them a little better before I can tell the story.

Participant-180x180-2Though I didn’t “win” NanoWriMo this year, I don’t consider it a failure. NaNo provided the push I needed to experiment with this story that’s been floating around in my imagination for a while.

And it has given me the motivation to treat every month as if it is National Novel Writing Month. While I often find 1,667 words a difficult daily goal to maintain, I will set a more achievable daily word goal for myself. Let the spirit of NaNoWriMo live on!

Congratulations to those who crossed the 50,000 word finish line, and good luck to you in your editing endeavors in December for National Novel Editing Month!

NaNoWriMo Day 18

I’d love to share my successes and how great NaNoWriMo is going but the truth is, I’ve fallen way behind. I’m at the point where I’ve written the first several chapters and now I’m not certain where to go next. I’m running out of steam and seem to only be able to write a few hundred words at a time. I’ve started writing the story out of chronological order for the sake of moving forward.  I’m not even to the halfway point and feeling a bit discouraged at my slow progress.

I’m also struggling with tendonitis and some pretty serious pain in my wrist. I’m trying to rest it and take frequent breaks, but that isn’t helping my word count!

Even though I’m now several thousand words behind the goal and not sure I will catch up by November 30th, I’m going to keep writing. I’m going to keep pushing though and hope for a second wind.

I’m going to sit down and write every day because after all, that’s what NaNo is really all about. While the goal of NaNo is to reach 50,000 words, the real reward comes in the habit of daily writing and making the time to write when there seems to be none. And why stop after November 30th? It’s my goal to continue writing every day – no excuses.

Words Written Today: 1,748
Total Words Written: 22,520
Words to Go: 27,480
Percent Complete: 45%

NaNoWriMo Week 1 Wrap up

We’re one week in to NaNoWriMo, and it has already had its ups and downs.

I got off to a good start with solid word counts the first few days. When the weekend rolled around, I was determined to use those days to get ahead, and I did, writing nearly 5,000 words over the weekend, bringing me ahead of schedule.

But then, my muse took a day or two off. Blame it on gloomy weather or the lack of daylight after daylight saving time, but I found myself apathetic and unmotivated. I had some pretty dismal word counts for a few days and I went from being ahead to being behind.

After a few lousy days, I think I’m back into the writing groove and got back on track today.

Word count aside, it’s important to keep in mind what we’ve all accomplished so far this month. I have sat down to write every single day for the past week, multiple times a day in fact, even though some of those days I wrote less than 1,100 words which isn’t much by NaNo standards. I’ve been waking up early each morning to write before work, plugging in earphones and tuning out the word to write on my lunchbreak, setting aside time each day to write. And because of that, I have a quarter of a novel written in just one week’s time.

Words Written Today: 2,004
Total Words Written: 13,554
Words to Go: 36,446
Percent Complete: 27%

NaNoWriMo Kickoff!

Today marked the kick off of National Novel Writing Month. For the next month, I will be working toward writing 50,000 words of a shiny, new novel.

I have spent the past few weeks fleshing out my characters, creating an outline and drafting scenes. Today the writing officially started. Here is a glimpse at the story I’ll be working on for (at least) the next 30 days:

After a failed marriage, Eden Stone is determined never to rely on men again.  She and her daughters, Sam and Nora, learn to support themselves.

When Eden’s estranged sister, Annette, has an accident and ends up in a coma, Eden suspect Annette’s husband had something to do with it.

Everyone must adjust when Annette’s daughter, Veronica, comes to live with Eden, Sam and Nora – her estranged aunt and cousins. As Eden faces the possibility of losing her only sister, she begins to discover how little she truly knew about the life her sister was leading, and has to confront her own demons.

I hope to post updates regularly with my progress, here’s where I stand after day one:

Words Written Today: 1,966
Words to Go: 48,034
Percent Complete: 4%

Preparing for NaNoWriMo

There are only a few days left until National Novel Writing Month officially begins for 2012, leaving me with not much time to finish preparing and outlining!

I was reflecting on last year’s NaNo, and here are a few things I learned in the process:

1. I am capable of getting out of bed  early every day to write. I am not a morning person. But it’s what I need to do to make the time to write.

NaNoWriMoThough I am a night owl, I had some of my most productive writing sessions before the sun came up. Evenings, for me, are full of distractions and temptations I can’t resist (read: prime time television) If I want to make writing part of my day, mornings may be my answer. And coffee of course.

TIP: Find out what time of day you are most productive and make that your writing time.

2. A little brainstorming goes a long way. I never thought taking ten minutes to think about my writing could be all that beneficial. But several times during NaNo 2011, I picked up a pen and paper on my lunch break and just started writing my next scene. In just a few minutes time, I gave myself a jump start on what I could work on writing that night when I had more than ten minutes. It helped me overcome that glaze of starting at the cursor, trying to figure out where to begin.

TIP: If don’t already carry a notebook with you wherever you go, make sure you do in the month of November. Don’t be caught unprepared if you find yourself with sudden inspiration. Take a few moments of your day to jot notes about what you intend to work on that day, plan your next scene or your next chapter. A few moments of preparation is worth pages of writing.

3. Valuable writing time can be wasted in hitting the snooze button and the few moments it takes to make a cup of coffee, turn on the laptop and get settled in my writing spot. I needed to give myself a few extra moments so that these seemingly quick tasks didn’t cut into my writing time.

TIP: Do everything you can to prepare, so that once you sit down to write, you don’t need to get up for at least an hour. Have everything you need within reach including a beverage or snack, a pen or pencil and a notebook nearby to take notes –  if you suddenly decide what you want to happen in the next chapter, write it down to go back to later, then keep writing.

What have you learned from past NaNoWriMo’s? What tips do you find useful to help you make the most of your writing time?