Tuesday, November 9, 2010

NaNoWriMo is here again

This month is NaNoWriMo month. For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, NaNoWriMo is an acronym for: National Novel Writing Month. It's the month when thousands of writers attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in one month. Gulp! In one month?

I am not a fiction writer, and even if I were, I might not try this. On the other hand, I just might. I've gotten involved in these kinds of contests before that forced the writer to produce something every day for a period of time. And, actually, it was a good thing...not just for the end product but for the process. It's amazing how it pushes you into a "zone" and you just want to keep on writing.

Anyhow I've been curious as to how other writer's see this contest or approach it. I've collected several reactions from writers who are taking on the challenge. Here is the first one. Read and learn................Nancy
Guest post by Julianne McCullagh

View Julianne's Blog
"...the NaNoWriMo process ...[has] helped me recognize where I should be headed with my novel "Hey, Don't I Know You"

I’ve just had a revelation. No angels or skies opening up. (That would have been cool, though.) Just a regular ordinary revelation. A recognition. Yeah, I like that word– recognition. Like you’ve met somewhere before, and you realize, oh, that’s right. That’s what I’ve been waiting for.

This is the beginning of week 2 of NaNoWriMo– National Novel Writing Month. I started out amazingly well, for me. I am a slow writer. I dally. I dilly. I dilly-dally around words, around thoughts, around characters. That’s okay. All writers have their own style and pace.

All last week while I was trying to get my daily production of about 1700 words a day on-screen, I realized that no matter how I tried to steer the work, I kept coming back to the same themes and characters I’ve been working on in my novel-in-progress. I have about 23,000 words that I’m relatively pleased with (countless words of notes and trial and error and scenes that went nowhere), so, I thought, I’ll cheat.

NaNoWriMo is supposed to be 50,000 new words churned out with the internal editor away on vacation, too far away to interfere with the writer who’s hiding behind the censor. My editor/censor doesn’t take vacations. My censor like to work. What a pain.

But, that’s where I am. So be it. I can still try to shake up my censor and get one over on her once in a while. Like, this morning. I was so sure I had my first chapter written and the novel would proceed from the themes I set up in that chapter. But, I was stuck. Which is one of the reasons I started the NaNo process. I want to become unstuck. Free those words and ideas that the censor has cowering in the corner with the threat of being sent to the principal’s office if they squawk.

They squawked. The principal was kinder than the censor. HaHa!

Here’s how the revelation/recognition happened. Gene transferred my NANo words to Scrivener. Scrivener is this fairly new tool for writers that is supposed to be easier and more intuitive. This morning I was looking at this new creature and I could not find the last chapter I had written. So I summoned it from my Word files. I re-read it. I liked it. And then, (drum roll, please) I recognized that this chapter should be the first chapter because it introduces themes and characters that play out in the rest of the work.

So, thank you NaNoWriMo, for jiggling loose some thoughts that might have stayed in the wrong place if I hadn’t taken your challenge, and then modified your challenge to my own purposes. It’s good to recognize a friend you’ve met for the first time.

Rules of contest
  • Write a 50,000-word (or longer!) novel, between November 1 and November 30.
  • Start from scratch. None of your own previously written prose can be included in your NaNoWriMo draft (though outlines, character sketches, and research are all fine, as are citations from other people's works).
  • Write a novel. We define a novel as a lengthy work of fiction. If you consider the book you're writing a novel, we consider it a novel too!
  • Be the sole author of your novel. Apart from those citations mentioned two bullet-points up.
  • Write more than one word repeated 50,000 times.
  • Upload your novel for word-count validation to our site between November 25 and November 30.
Sponsers: Amazon, Createspace, Scrivener, Storyist, Scribendi, ThinkGeek and thousands of individual donors.
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to leave a comment


  1. Nancy,

    Thanks for inviting me over! These Na/Mo-challenges are something, aren't they? I'm enjoying blogging every day for the most part, but there are still worries. Will the idea well run dry? Will people stay with me? Overall, I'm up to the task and happy to make new acquaintances such as yourself. All the best to you.

  2. I'm not a novelist. I don't do NaNo. However, I do enjoy NaBloPoMo - blogging every day for a month. The last couple years I haven't done really well at making the challenge. This year I'm off to a good start and I'm enjoying being engaged in my blog again. I'm also enjoying meeting new bloggers and reading new blogs. Good luck to Julianne on her novel.

  3. @Amy: Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my site and commenting. To me, blogging is a great way to improve my writing, get out anything that might be on my mind, and make friend on the Net. I don't understand what you mean when you ask "Will the idea run dry?" Do you mean will you get tired of blogging? I just started a couple of years ago and I am really hooked on it. Seems like now, I just have to blog.

  4. @eve: Thanks for the comments...very much appreciated. Well, writing a novel and blogging are totally different. I don't think I could write a novel if I tried, because I don't want to comment to one project for that length of time.
    I am a writer, but I prefer to write journal articles and essays. Right now I'm working on a memoir. Although it's a big commitment, the focus is not on plot, narrative arc, and character development, which, in my opinion makes it a loy easier and more enjoyable.

  5. Nancy, my "idea well" referenced that mysterious source of all good blog ideas...but you're right: they come. I, too, enjoy blogging, though I work hard to make sure mine doesn't sound like a diary. No navel-gazing allowed! At least not for an extended period of time...

  6. Amy, I also try not to have mine sound like a diary...that's why I invite writer's I know to come and post whatever they like. I just launched a new site for writers at www.amemorabletimeofmylife.blogspot.com. If you check it out, I'd appreciate a comment and a follow. Thanks. Would love to have you post something.