Several friends have asked if I’m taking part in the NaNoWriMo, and I’ve politely said no, I’m not.

I’ve never even considered it before but this year, since it’s been coming up so often in discussion and because frankly, I AM in writing mode, I checked out the website and the ideas behind the premise.  Sorry, but I just can’t see how, for me, pushing to write 50,000 words in a month (which wouldn’t be hard for me in particular to do) will help my writing.  I’ve just spent the better part of two months on a single 3,000 word story, and still asked for help from a friend who’s a pro (and a prof) before I felt comfortable submitting it.  But for thems that can do it, I really admire the effort and hard work and time it’s going to demand.

But what I’m working on now takes more time to tweak than to write the first draft.  Quality, not quantity, is what I’m seeking to achieve, though I suppose if I had a rough writing spell this would be the ideal picker-upper.  Somehow, though, the whole idea of word count and fast and furious writing seems counterpoint to what a writer hopes to achieve.  Sounds more like a publisher’s thinking to me.  I’ve always hated the word count thing anyway; insisting that a sellable novel must be between 80,000 and 100,000 words.

I say, it needs whatever it takes to tell the story.

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7 Responses to WRITING: NaNoWriMo

  1. Ranjani says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! I remember a few of my friends complaining because I wasn’t doing it; I can’t finish a novel in a month, and not try to work on the one I want to. It’s probably fun to try (by fun, I mean deathly stressful, but some people dig that) but for professional novels?

    Now, quite a few good ones have been written via NaNoWriMo, but you have to wonder how much writing and editing went it to the novel afterwards! Novels should take someone time to write – then the story has a chance to get more developed.

  2. Swifty says:

    Yeah, I took part last year, in the end, for me, it was more like an exercise, or motivation for me to complete something that I would never get to finish any other time of the year. Pretty fulfilling, but me being me, I never really looked back at what I’ve written, and the story was left hanging after I got too busy with my filmmaking this year. (I reached 50 000 words, but didn’t finish the story)

  3. Much as I agree with quality over quantity, I like one of the lines written in NaNoWriMo.

    “Win or lose, you rock for even trying.”

    I think trying is the keyword here, and getting out of complacency and pushing yourself into an uncomfortable place is giving yourself a chance for breakthrough.

    As for the number crunch, I’d like to quote someone who taught me some drawing skills: “You have to get rid of the 10,000 (or more) bad drawings in you before you start coming up with good ones.”

    I believe it’s pretty much the same with writing, that we have to get some bad writing out before we go in with the good ones.

    Now that my 2 cents are spent, have fun, keep writing, and cheers. 🙂

  4. vikk says:


    I guess I have a different take because I’ve seen how these types of concentrated exercises can eventually lead to a published book. A friend of mine took a challenge to push through to get that first rough draft in six weeks. The result was that she got the raw material to then apply her craft. She did finish the revisions and eventually got an agent and sold the book. Another friend of mine, Chris Rogers, wrote her first story during the 3-day novel challenge. Now, she didn’t get an entire fully-fleshed out first draft but she did get a great start. She kept at it, finished the book, went on to the second, and then found an agent, an editor and a six-figure contract.

    I don’t believe the goal is to produce perfect copy, at least not for me. It’s just a good thing to do to keep that writing muscle challenged–at least, that’s how I look at it.

  5. susan says:

    Nanowrimo is probably the best thing going for a writer in a certain place in time–and I honestly admit that I really could have used its discipline and deadlines many times. Right now though I’m into prolific mode and the ideas keep coming (thank the Lord!), but it’s a matter of time and muse for each writer, as well as individual methods of working. I spend more time reworking things as I go–not interrupting the flow, but when it slows for a moment. That’s why it wouldn’t work for me right now. I sure as hell admire those who can stick with it under such pressure though!

  6. T says:

    I can appreciate that for a “real” writer who has already developed a method and rhythm that NaNo can be absurd, but I really like the external deadline as the kick in the pants I need to get writing into my daily life. Like a lot of people, I’ve let “real life” get in the way: Job. Kid. House crap. But I’ve had at least one book simmering in my head for literally 25 years, and the external deadline — and the community and additional resources — is what I needed to get this puppy typed in. I know I’m going to be doing a lot of revisions in the future, but for now, getting the story down, letting the characters tell me what happen, getting this information out of my head and into bytes and bits, it’s pretty awesome. And just the idea that HEY, I’m getting into the habit of writing, not just wishing I were writing, it’s really helpful to me.

    No more excuses. NaNo is giving me the urgency I couldn’t give writing myself.

    I know a few of my friends who have done NaNo aren’t doing it now because they’ve gotten into their own groove and they’re going for quality, or they know what pace they work best at, etc., and that’s great — but for some, it took NaNo to help them figure out where it fit. Congrats on knowing what you do best. I’m hoping this month kicks my butt into figuring it out for me. Twenty five years was too long to fester.


  7. susan says:

    It’s not a case of “real” writer; it’s whatever you need to jumpstart the flow.

    Ten years ago, all on my own without knowing about Nanowrimo, I decided to finally become more serious about my writing and wrote this 180k word novel in three months. I worked on it and tweaked it out, then proudly sent it off. Rejection came, of course, but it opened the faucet and it’s still dripping today.

    Go for it. I’m glad that when writers need something to drive them on, Nanowrimo is one excellent way to do it.

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