NaNoWriMo Time

I took part in the NaNoWriMo event in 2012, and completing that crazy, epic sprint to the end taught me more than I expected about the job of writing. First and foremost is the daily word quota. The more you fall behind, the less chance you have of catching up, and writing just under 1 700 words a day seems daunting. The thing is, that most of us write more words than that every day without thinking about it. We blog, we interview, we write bits of our works in process. It’s absolutely doable though.

The beauty of the NaNo is that you get to leave chunks out. You just pop over anything you’re not sure of and write on, because editing during NaNo is death. The urge to go back and at least read over what I’d written so far nearly took me out, but I knew that if I did I’d get to editing, and that would mean I’d never make it. NO editing. That month taught me that ongoing over-editing can cause more grammar problems than not editing your first draft at all. I only decided to join at the last minute, so I had absolutely no idea what I was going to write apart from the fact that I was going to write in a genre that I didn’t think I could. I had no idea from one minute to the next where the story would go, or if it would be absolute garbage in the end.

At the end of that November I had completed just over 50 000 words of a book I loved. I found that I loved writing in a genre I believed that I would be hopeless at, and had the beginning of a series that is now well on its way to book four being published in early 2015. To any of you thinking of having a first try at the NaNoWriMo this year, I say a hearty Go For It! You’ll learn to write every day to meet your personal goals. You’ll be way too busy to angst over all the writing things we usually angst over. You’ll feel the warm camaraderie of fellow scribblers from around the globe. And if you win – well then, you’ll have a novel to edit. A couple of tips I learned from my NaNo month….

• Tell your family what you’ll be doing, and ask for their support. Let them know that there probably won’t be any homemade pudding or cookies in November. Suggest that there might be days when you aren’t going to brush your hair, and expressions of repulsion aren’t conducive to a happy muse. Support will be key this month.

• Whatever you’re cooking now, cook more and freeze what you can. You’re going to be far too wrapped up in your story to chop and peel anything. I froze piles of fillings, and pancakes were so prevalent during my frantic scribbling month that they were banished for a long while afterwards.

• Don’t feel guilty – it’s only a month, and perhaps you’ll be better appreciated for all that you usually do after a month of eyeballs firmly on computer. Prepare for a month that’s all about you and your writing.

• I never did this, but it would have made my life a lot easier. Write an outline and a rough cast of characters now. Think of where your story will play out – think scenes and settings. Plan your ending so that you can work towards it as soon as you type your first word.

• Keep a notebook and jot down important scenes, names or anything you’ll need to remember later in the book, because you don’t want to be wasting time reading through what you’ve written to find anything during the process.

• Don’t edit. At all. Really.

• Make a rough cover now to inspire you. You can change it later.

• Plan to have fun with it. When you hit that word target you’re going to feel on top of the world, and NaNo rewards their winners with quite a lot of writerly swag, deals, and a gorgeous badge to share your impressive accomplishment with the world.

• Go for it. You have all to gain and nothing to lose.

nanowrimo

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53 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Time”

  1. This is excellent advice. I stumbled onto NaNo quite accidentally about 4 or 5 years ago and I’ve tried to participate every year since. I don’t always finish and last year I failed miserably but I love the challenge!

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  2. Reblogged this on ronovanwrites and commented:

    NaNoWriMo
    Yes I said it out loud and it sounds awesome. I signed up once but was to shy to actually do it. I hate myself for it to this day but it was write after my accident and I wasn’t really up for it I suppose.
    JoRobinson, Author and Goddess of writing and self-publishing gives awesome advice. Go check her new article out on LitWorldInterviews.

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  3. It is a great idea, for me at least, between books. An excellent way to liberate our creative flows. As you write, no edit. The goal is to put words down. I have done NanoWrimo three times and then stopped. I felt that the pressure was too much. But I have missed the feeling of having accomplished something by Thanksgiving. So this year, as my second novel has been just released, I will give it a try. Good luck to you and everyone willing to participate this coming month.

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    1. Good luck Evelyne! It’s great just to participate, and it doesn’t matter if you don’t finish. The experience alone is so amazing – the no editing was a revelation to me. I was a OCD ongoing editing machine, but strangely enough, my NaNo book had a lot less typos at the end than my over-edited stories.

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    1. A woman from Buffalo now living in Virginia that finds humor in life? And you don’t have a story? You are from BUFFALO in VIRGINIA. 🙂 You know you could write a story about a woman transplanted south and does some mystery or some such and throw your humorous takes on the differences between the North and the South like the misunderstandings of certain things, like phrases and the like. (Ignore me, my head is all over the spectrum today.)

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      1. Haha, I know right?! You would think! I am going to sit down and brainstorm, but I feel like if I sat down to write, I would have no direction without an outline, characters etc. I am going to try 🙂

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  4. I’m doing it for the first time this year although I’ve been fascinated by the idea since I hear about it. Now I need to investigate that’s the night of writing dangerously…Thanks Jo! And good luck to everybody!

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  5. With no experience in this long version story writing, I signed up a couple of years ago. No outline. An idea and I finished over 50,000 words. And, NaNo almost finished me. I swore I’d never do it again, but I suggest trying it. What I learned about writing is invaluable. I’ve been playing with the idea again, but am not sure my brain is ready for that much drain. Do it. You’ll be happy you did but DO an outline at least so you can focus on the finish line. 😀 😀

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    1. You’re so right – I was woman down for the first week of December after the NaNo, but it’s such a feeling of accomplishment it’s worth the whole crazy trip. I wish I had had an outline though – right again – totally pantsing it was a wild, wild ride. 😀

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  6. I first heard of it last year, and was going to try. I don’t think I’d have trouble writing that many words a day, as I do it lots of times anyway, but I found out you had to submit your words or something to be official, and I couldn’t figure out how to do that…still can’t …So I wish all who participate much good luck!!! 🙂

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    1. It confused me a bit too at first, but all it is is copying and pasting your manuscript into a box you’ll find on your dashboard when the event goes live. It’s quite exciting watching it grow on your counter. 🙂

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