To NaNoWriMo or not to NaNoWriMo

Let’s talk about National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). For those who don’t know, please remove yourself from the rock you’ve been living under.


Isn’t this better?

Wait, don’t go back yet.

NaNoWriMo is where anyone can participate in the month of November and try to write a novel in a month, or at least 50,000+ words. For more information you can check out their site and get all the details.

I’ve written about NaNoWriMo in the past, and just like last year I’m not sure if I plan on participating. I have several ideas I could explore and possibly have the makings for at least a short story or novella, maybe a novel. I’m not worried about meeting the 50k deadline since I fell short last year. I wasn’t sad about this because I actually had accomplished a lot in a relatively short amount of time (43k word) and even had a vacation where I didn’t get much done. The main thing that would need to happen is to psyche myself up enough to actually do it… Again. Why shouldn’t I? Why should I?

If I do decide to forgo the loss of any nonexistent free time I currently have then I have to get a few things done first.

1.)  I need to decide which idea to tackle. I currently have three ideas, two of which are expansions of current fictional universes I’ve developed, and one idea that actually came to me from a dream. I need to decide which one of these I want to focus on before I can move on to the next step.

2.) I need to take one of my ideas and outline it. Outline sounds like a harsh term for some, but my version of an outline would make neat freaks squirm. It’s not much in the form of structuring how the story should be, but more along the lines of certain events that might happen within the story as a whole. Here is who is supposed to be in the story. And so on. Notice the word “might” and “supposed to be” in there? That’s because my outline is like a horrendous first draft that consists of maybe a few pages, and everything on those pages are subject to change. I’ve found this is the best way to have some sort of mapped out trail through the woods of writing where no trail exists. Plus, it allows me to mess with the characters a bit. I should be coming up to a stream in the next bit to get some water, oh wait the stream is dry, and half of the trees are gone due to what appears to be a bombing.

3.) I need to decide who the people in the story are and learn everything I can about them. For some people that statement might sound weird since the people I’m talking about are made up by the writer. Yet, any writer knows that making a convincing person can be a tough business. Can you describe everything about yourself in just one paragraph? Probably not, unless you’re one of those rock people from the start of the blog. Even so, every person is complex in their own way and everyone wants something even if it’s only a piece of bubble gum. So they have to be believable not only to myself, but the reader as well. Character tropes are something to avoid, but they can be a stepping stone into developing a character into more than just the initial perception of who the character is.

4.) I need to carve out time for when I would write. I’m not picky when it comes to writing. I don’t have to have my pens lined up a certain way, my computer screen at a certain angle, or be in a certain chair to get words on the page. What I do need is time. Do I get up early? Stay up late? Write in short bursts or long strides? The answer is yes. When there is a deadline of 50k words in 30 days then it’s important to write whenever you can and meet the daily word count goals. If you don’t then you have to meet goals and catchup by writing more. This happened to me last year, but I did it to myself and I’m not sorry for having to write sometimes up to three thousand words in one sitting. There were some nights where the normal daily word goal was only a starting point since I had fallen so far behind. The problem with doing this is the burnout I felt once I was finished.

5.) I need to finish what I start. Even though I didn’t reach my 50K goal by the end of the month last year, I did finish the story I was working on. At least, I finished the 1st draft. That in itself is something. There are not many people who can say they have written a book, and I’m sure there are less that can say they did it in one month (plus the time after to reach the end of the story).

6.) I need to follow up with my story after it’s done. This is where I slacked off. I did manage to get a few beta readers, and I have a list of things I need to do to last year’s NaNoWriMo book, but I haven’t taken the time to get it done. This of course requires more time. I could list out the reasons why I didn’t follow through, but there is no excuse except to say that I didn’t do it. Perhaps this year I’ll go further than I did the last.

Whether I participate in NaNoWriMo or not I have the ideas to turn into stories. I just need to do the work to bring them into the world.

Good luck everyone.

You guys who were living under those rocks, you can go back now and start working on your ideas.



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