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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

NaNoWriMo: Are You In?

November is National Novel Writing Month. For the past 10 years, writers have been participating in a growing phenomenon called NaNoWriMo. It started in the San Francisco Bay area in 1999 with around two dozen participants and has grown into an international creative event with around 119,000 entrants in 2008.

To "win" NaNoWriMo, a writer must complete at least 50,000 words of a new project between November 1 and November 30--an average of 1667 words a day. What is the prize? A website badge, 50,000 shiny new words and a sense of accomplishment.

I've never done it before because the creative voice in me says, "No way. I don't write on demand like that." On further evaluation, I've realized that indeed, I do write on demand. I've written 3 novels in less than a month each, not including revisions, of course. I've edited on demand for my agent, and hope to write and edit for a publisher, so why not begin and end on an artificial deadline for NaNoWriMo?

"Creativity can't be forced." Tell that to my published friends who write for multiple houses 3, 4, 5 times a year.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is quantity, not quality, which means turning off the internal editor. This can be good or bad--or both. The better I become at my craft, the harder this is for me, but I find my story suffers sometimes due my labors over sentence structure and word choice.

When teaching English, I would tell my students, "Get the words down, then worry about formatting and cleaning it up later." (Teens like to use creative fonts and formatting when publishing on computer.) I guess I need to heed my own advice to some degree. "Get the words down." I can always edit later.

I may have to revise more than I would on a relaxed schedule, but, hey, the words will at least be there.

One feature I really like is the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's program. Being a teacher and YA writer, I'm all about getting young people into writing.

My teen daughter, who is co-authoring a middle grade mystery/suspense with me, has registered and is looking forward to the workshops and productivity inspired by the program.

Here are some cool sites and resources:

I've registered and am totally in for this year's NaNoWriMo. What about you? Tips? War stories? Links to great NaNoWriMo sites?

Let me know your thoughts on this.



Unknown said...

I will definitely be participating. A friend challenged me to do it last year and that's how my writing journey began. A year later I'm still writing. Two novels later, NaNo will mark the start of my third.

Bible Devotion Fairy said...

I'm in! I reminded my Writers Guild about it last night at our meeting. I proudly display my "Winner" certificate on my own personal ego wall along with my other publications. My plotting is well underway and the title is in place for this year's novel! I'm also motivated to get some serious editing done before Nov. 1.

Christine Fonseca said...

I'm in - as are my two kids (for the Young writers program). Good luck everyone!

feywriter said...

I'm signed up. This will be my first year as well. I'm not used to writing something without months of planning and simmering, so this should be interesting.

Anonymous said...

This will my sixth year! I am a nano-addict. Last year I had a young writer buddy and I hope to have a couple more this year. Yay, nano!

Ian said...

This will be my sixth year. I've never not reached the 50k goal. The more I do NaNo, the better I seem to write my first drafts of everything. I believe it's a beneficial tool for improving your writing and storytelling skills. If you want to connect with me, I'm Edog on the nano site. I'm happy to mentor anyone who needs it-I'm a great cheerleader/drill sergeant, depending on your needs. :)

Kristy Baxter said...

I'm going to do it, but very carefully, because last year my plot turned into a big pile of crap. Bad writing I can fix easily; horrid plotting is a lot more complex, even if it is fixable (I eventually fixed last year's NaNovel, but it was quite taxing).

P.S. Your second Squidoo link is missing the "h" in "http". =)

Stina said...

I'm close to finishing the edits on my WIP so I'm going to pass on the NaNo. Technically I could do it since I'm already plotting and pre-planning a new novel. But maybe I'll do the contest in my own heart and not actually register for it. I'm going to check out the links, though.

Scott said...

Not this year, but I have done it in past years. I have too crazy a schedule in November to even attempt NaNo! Next year . . . well, that's another story (wink)!


Tere Kirkland said...

I'm going to try to finish my WiP's first draft, and if I do, then NaNo will come with good timing. Even if I don't finish it by then, I'll still have my own NoWriMo while I let my first draft sit for a month.

TeNoWriMo. ;)

Seems like a good idea to me, and it'll keep me from fiddling with my WiP before it's had the chance to properly rest before I start carving into it. (Ah, so many food metaphors, so much time before lunch.)

Good luck to everyone who participates! As I like to say, everyone who decides to NaNo is a winner!

Rebekah Prudhomme said...

I'm in! This will be my 1st year doing this so wish me luck. I'm really excited but at the same time a bit nervous. It sounds like a lot of fun and a lot of work. Only time will tell if I can make the goal!

Reesha said...

I'm excited for NaNoWriMo this year. It's my second. I didn't win last year but I've been practicing all year long on writing 1,667 words per day so I hope to do better this year.

My NaNo name is leolewis if anyone wants to buddy me.

Mary Lindsey / Marissa Clarke said...

Wow. I'm excited so many folks are doing it.

Thanks for the heads up on the link, Kristy. I fixed it.

Mary Lindsey / Marissa Clarke said...

I haven't figured out how to buddy yet, but my imaginative name is marylindsey on the NaNoWriMo website. I'd love to buddy up with you guys.

Pamela said...

I'm participating and excited for it. This will be my second year, however, last year I did not reach the 50k for various reasons. I'm going into this year's with more hope of finishing though.

It's a great experience with great people to meet. I wish you the best of luck.

~ Pam
Two to Write

Henri said...

Lat year I attempted NaNoWriMo and I kicked out about 33,000 words to a novel that probably needs another 70K to be complete. That novel still sits in a drawer, but since that time I used the energy I discovered during last November to convert a collection of short stories into a completed novel, which I had the pleasure to shop around to literary agents during this past summer. Still waiting for that phone call, but another attempt ( a different story) seems to be in the offering for this year's NaNo. I am even trying to create extra time during Nov. to do this.

Best of luck to everyone who joins this madness. It is great experience.


Jemi Fraser said...

I heard about NaNo only a few days before Nov last year. I joined and loved it. I'm busier/crazier this year, but I'm going to give it a shot again and see what happens :)

ChristaCarol Jones said...

Definitely giving it a shot this year, blogged about it too over at my place. Good luck!!!

Yamile said...

In my family (just the immediate family) we have three November birthdays, all around Thanksgiving. Am I planning on Nano? You bet I am! I relish stress and lack of sleep. I write my best when I don't think.
Yes, I'll be writing my third novel. I wrote #1 during last year's Nano, and a second during the summer. I'm revising the second one, but this next third story is excited to get out!

Karen Harrington said...

I'm in! This will be my third year. Thanks for posting those articles. :)

Unknown said...

This event should help writers to just get writing. An important aspect to creativity is to just let it all hang loose. As you mentioned, it can all be cleaned up later.

In the aftermath, writers will come away with so many words, sentences, paragraphs that they may be able to brush up and use in future projects.

Anonymous said...

I'm in. Sounds fun. I'd heard of the event last year but wimped out. Should be a great time. Thanks for the post.

Unknown said...

Yes! I'll be participating this year. It will be my third year and I have yet to complete the 50,000 word goal. But this year is the year that I am determined to do it.

Open to NaNoWriMo buddies...here's my profile: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/170996

Good luck to everyone participating.