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writer w typewriter 8440250_sVirtually all the writers I know, and a whole lot of readers, know that November is National Novel Writing Month, affectionately called NaNoWriMo. Many authors participate, typing their fingers to the bone as they strive to reach that golden mark: 50,000 words and a novel written. Writers don’t have to stop at 50,000 words, but they do have to reach that mark in order to display the “winner” badge on their site or blog.

I know quite a few authors who are participating this year, and who have participated in years past. Most make it to the goal. I’m not participating, nor have I ever. My longer novels were all written before NaNoWriMo came into being, and these days, I write 40-45,000 word novels. I don’t want to “pad” my material in order to win a distinction that is more about spurring on writers who don’t turn out work as quickly as I do.

Although outlining, plotting, and character sketches are all allowed before NaNoWriMo begins, there’s no requirement for quality in the end product. It is unfortunate, but the book doesn’t have to be readable or at all polished. It does not have to be publishable. Nor do I think it’s honestly possible to write a full-length novel in a month and have it be ready for prime time.

However, all those caveats aside, most of the writers I interact with on a daily basis make a huge and commendable effort to get the job done within a month. A slew of them succeed, too. To those people, and the many writers who might not quite get through but who try hard, I commend you. NaNoWriMo is nothing to be sneered at. It’s a big challenge, and a respectable one.

Write on!
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8 Comments

  1. I participated last year, as you know, but didn’t even attempt to do it this year. I never considered my book to be in a “publishable” form when I finished NaNo. When I received my certificate, I viewed it as having successfully completed my first, very rough, draft. I think that’s all anyone expects to accomplish in one month. It’s a hurry up and write activity, not a complete and submit scenario. There is a driving energy that comes with committing to the project that’s great when you tend to drag your feet. But you’re a fast writer, Trish, so I don’t think you need it. I, however, could benefit from the occasional spur to my flanks. 😉

    • We all use the tools that get the job done when we can. I would have a very hard time “blurting” out a rough first draft. I tend to edit as I go, which slows down the process. And, although it’s always so tempting to participate, I think the pressure would make me freeze up. I like to give myself deadlines, but I always know in my heart that if I go over a week, even two, I’m not screwing anything up.

  2. I think the idea of NANO is wonderful. If only my schedule would allow me to compete I think it would help so much in getting a first draft done. I tried one year–got two chapters done–and then work crashed back in and I had to quit. I’m looking forward to the first NANO after I’m a full-time writer. 🙂 Great post, Trish!

    • I’ve give NaNoWriMo thought every year, but every year, I’m either already working on a book or the next book I’m supposed to begin doesn’t lend itself to 50K words.

      I’m sure you’ll get to participate, Jenna. Probably sooner than you think! 🙂

  3. The goal is not to publish what you write during NaNoWriMo. The goal is simply to write. I would hope any author who reached their goal limit would edit the hell out of their project before they publish it, just like they would any other story. Otherwise, they may have won the challenge, but they’ve just failed themselves!

    Also, it doesn’t have to be 50k words in a single project. It just has to be 50k words. You can write a full book and a little bit, and still win. 🙂

  4. Nano is a great project and a great idea. I remember when this concept was new. The excitement! For me (and I’ve never completed it), the fun is watching writing become “cool” even amongst my non-writer friends who think it’s great to give writing a try. I love the sense of community and cheering on others.

    But for me, I’m actually writing more slowly these days and finding it helps me with the revising/editing process. To each her own. 🙂

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