Friday, October 12, 2012

Why I Nanowrimo?

Well, in three weeks we will be heading into a month of "literary abandon." November is National Novel Writing Month. That time of the year when thousands of writers. ranging from seasoned pros to absolute beginners, try to write an entire 50,000 word novel in a month. It's sort of like marathoning. Unless you've done it, you don't know why other people do.

Nanowrimo BadgeYou can keep bungee jumping, sky diving, undersea demolition, this is the real adrenaline rush. Chasing along behind your characters as they travel through their adventure at 1650 words a day - or more. Many of us take the 50,000 word goal as just a beginning. I'm going to be going for 75K this year. I know some who try to make 100K or more.

So, why do I do this? What good is it?

I find that a strange question. You don't see people asking guys in tea shirts and baseball caps, guzzling beer and shouting "Go Defense" why they do it? You don't ask someone watching an opera or delighting in a symphony why they do it? First and foremost, it is just plain fun. Writing is fun in and of itself, but when you mix in the games, the word sprints, the chatter in the discussion forums, on Twitter, Facebook and Google plus, the general camaraderie among writers scattered all over the world, it is like a month long party taking place all over the world.

Perhaps, on a more practical note, Nanowrimo gives a chance to experiment. Now, that I am supporting myself in part from my writing, I tend to think somewhat conservatively. I know that my Dark Side of the Moon characters are popular, and I can move into character easily with them, so I gravitate toward them. Nonfiction sells and sells good. So, I research trending topics and write about them. It's fun, but it's also safe.

During November, I throw literary safety to the wind and play with other ideas which may or may not be commercial. I write the stories I might not have written otherwise. I get creative and even a bit crazy, but sometimes crazy is what you need to be to come up with the Big Ideas.

Finally, it helps me write. I have to write everyday or I'll get behind. I have to write fast and put editing aside until later or I won't make my number for the day. I have to set aside the distractions of life for one month to pursue my craft. If I can do that in November, then I can do it other months as well.

If you are considering Nanowrimo yourself, I have put together a guide called The Road to Success in Nanowrimo on Kindle. You can download it on your smartphone, tablet, computer or Kindle device. You can also read it in the Kindle cloud. It is a guide for the beginner covering everything from time management to plotting the novel. It's only 99 Cents and, if you have Amazon Prime, you can borrow it for free.

Also, during this month, I'm curating a paper at You  can keep up with what bloggers, journalists and others are saying about Nano this month.

If you are in the forums, my username is terrimain and I'll be following the #nanowrimo hashtag on Twitter where you can follow me at


  1. Not for me! To do Nanowrimo, you have to slam out those words, full speed ahead, and damn the torpedoes ... er ... the typos and errors. Nope, that would drive me crazy. I see an error and I HAVE TO FIX IT, RIGHT NOW! I'm an edit-as-you-go type. I know some people advise against that, but it fits me best. Better to have fewer words with no errors, letting those errors go unfixed until next month would have me ready for that proverbial rubber room. No Nanowrimo for me, thanks.

  2. Jim, I did Nano twice but do not intend to do it this year. The first year, I wanted to overcome my phobia about writing science fiction, and I figured I could certainly devote a month do it. I wrote 15000 words in third person, then decided it had to be in first, so I went back and rewrote it, as I needed to bet the voice of my main character clear in my head before I could go on. I still made my numbers, not that the number was my primary concern. I have a day job and a family -- but I also touch-type, and I type fast. I'd pretty much plan out what I was going to write on the ride home from work and they type it up. At over 50 words a minute, 1667 words a day didn't take me that long. The hard part is figuring out what to write -- writing it down is fast.

    I can understand wanting to do Nano -- and not wanting to do Nano -- but IMO the rewrite thing wouldn't be a show-stopper.

  3. If i wrote 50 words a minute the print would be dyslexic, and I would never be able to figure out what I wrote at edit time. LOL You are a speed demon Margaret. I've never tried Nanowrimo, but would love to. I can't seem to get life out of the way in order to take the time to do it.

    Also Jim, I too have the need to edit along the way. They say the stopping and starting hinders your creativity. I don't know, I just feel tortured if I don't do the edit before I move on, and I think that hinders my creativity also. Every one paints in a different direction. Thanks for the wonderful article Terri.

  4. I think I've done it six times now. I always think maybe I won't, that I've accomplished whatever I need to do with it, as for whatever reason I am able to crank out the 50K. And since I've got a few ideas for it this year, I think I'll have another go. But why I do it remains elusive. I don't think it has furthered my writing career in any professional kind of way. Still, at the end you do have something you can work on--that is, if you ever look at it again.

  5. I did it last year and got to about 35,000 words. Life intervened and I didn't finish. Was going to do it this year but I have a deadline to meet so won't be able to. I found it was quite good as I tend to write full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes and typos (as Jim puts it). This is my normal way of writing then I go back and edit, edit, edit when I get to the end.

  6. I did NANOWRIMO two years ago, and plan to do it again this year. I haven't been writing lately, so I am looking forward to not having any excuses not to. I am going to block off my schedule and make writing a priority. I have some ideas floating around in my head that I want to develop. I am a goal-oriented person, so NANOWRIMO is for me.

  7. I finally made the decision not to join nano this year. I am jammed up with other projects I need to take care of. I have learned recently to write freely...yes it's hard not to stop and fix everything before moving on, but I am getting better at it. I think that's the key...just write it down even if it is misspelled or phrased awkwardly. Keep going. Best wishes for a fabulous Nano outcome.