NaNoWriMo Madness

I am humming and ha-ing over the idea of signing up for NaNoWriMo this year.

Writers reading this are probably thinking “Yey, I’m not the only lunatic!”

Non-writers reading this are thinking “Is that even a word?”

NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month – although really it should be International Novel Writing Month, as people from all over the world sign up for the mayhem. Er, I mean, challenge. And it does just what it says on the tin. You write a novel in a month. If you don’t believe me, look here. The basic idea is to achieve 50000 words between 1 and 30 November, for which you get a lovely badge for your blog, and an excuse to open a bottle of champagne before collapsing in a crumpled heap. You will be excused for saying something along the lines of “Why? Why would you do that to yourself? Why, Becca, WHY?” I know that refrain keeps screaming in my own head.

I heard about this last year, and was tempted to join in, but a) I was into November when I heard about it and b) I still had very little confidence in my writing. This year I have been given a huge boost by all you lovely people that I can actually string two words together, I have formed very real and strong friendships with other writers who are joining too and, unbelievably, I have a plan.

Now, 50000 words is a heck of a lot of words to write in 30 days. I think the daily word count is something like 1660 words to reach the target – achievable, but, um, challenging. But in actual fact it is a short novel, more of a novella. Or a children’s novel. Which is lucky, because that’s what I’ve got planned. So after November, there shouldn’t be too much to add to it, before I go through and rewrite that draft into something that makes sense. If you clicked on the link above, you’ll have seen that the finished 50000 words doesn’t have to be refined or edited, it is pure word count that counts and it’s up to you to do something with it afterwards. And I have been privileged to chat with people who have turned it into an actual novel, worthy of submitting to publishers. So my plan is to take the ideas I’ve had for my children’s book, use NaNoWriMo to get most of the first draft written with the peer support and encouragement that comes with working to the same goal together, and see what I can do with it afterwards.

It is going to be hard work – after all, I have two small children at home and at the minute sleep deprivation is taking its toll too. It’s also coming up to Christmas so that will have to be factored in. BUT the good news is that Daniel goes to nursery from September, so I have 2 and a half hours every morning to use. I have some evening times. I’m not even going to try and get up early – I am the most un-morning person you can think of, so it would be a waste of time and set me up badly for the day.

And if I don’t achieve the 50000 words? I’ll have made a start on my second novel. I’ll have given it a go, and that’s an achievement in itself. Nothing to lose but my sanity (and let’s face it, that wouldn’t be much of a loss) and lots to gain.

12 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Madness”

  1. Oh, Good Luck Becca! I signed up last year and found too many excuses not to keep going. I think need the peer support thing over a longer time period where I have to write so many words a week or month. I’d find that more achievable – maybe rather than Circle of Scribes we could be a small group – no more than 5? – who provide that kind of support? Something to think of, maybe.
    But good luck to you, toots! I’ll look forward to hearing how you get on!

  2. My first time last year. It is mental and after a while you feel like you are going to explode but I managed to finish and do 1667 words even in crazy days and now have a finished novel. I am going to do it again just see what happens. Best of luck and we’ll be with you if you do!

  3. Hi Becca! Congrats on making the commitment to NaNo this year. Last year was my first go at NaNo and I completed 55K in 25 days. It can be done! I also have two friends with published works from NaNo. Sadly, my ms is still in need of revision. I haven’t touched it since I completed it (which wasn’t until January). But I learned a lot about my writing style, focusing on the task at hand, choking out the editor, and flying by the seat of my pants. I met some wonderful people, both online and IRL through the NaNo write-ins held at local coffee shops. I connected with an amazing community of people. Best of luck in reaching your goal, but, as you stated, regardless of whether you hit 50K or not, you’re getting a jump start on your next project and that’s never a bad thing.

  4. What I’ve often wondered about NANOWRIMO is the research. Is this stage jettisoned for pure narrative (revised later) or do you do this before the month begins like an Open Exam prep?

    I’m keen to try it and have watched it nervously out of the corner of my eye for a couple years but ideally I’ll be working 7 days a week by then (teaching 5, museums/galleries 2) and I can’t find the writing time to do it even now (famous excuses read lazy/unmotivated). But pointing out the challenge/ambition to those around me might buy a months space to crack at it without distraction.

  5. That’s a brilliant idea, and we should definitely think more about that one. Something a bit more sustained and long-term.

    I don’t know if I’ll be the same when I do it – excuses are my speciality! – but I’m really excited about giving it a go. I think the key for me will be to not get hung up on word count, and while trying to aim for the goal not get worked up if I miss. ]

    Thanks for commenting Nettie!

  6. Actually you were the first person I knew who had done it, and I was totally inspired by you, especially since you had 4 young children to care for at the same time. And I love the idea of us all working together on the same sort of goal. 🙂 Thanks Alison!

  7. Well done for completing it, you must feel so much pride & satisfaction from doing that! I hope I have a similar experience 🙂

  8. Hi Danielle, thanks for commenting! Wow, exceeding the target in less time, that’s so impressive! I guess it doesn’t actually matter what you do with your mss afterwards, the point is you have it there to work on when you’re ready, and also I reckon the longer gap you have the more you will be able to bring to it when you do go back. That’s my theory anyway. The points you make – learning about your writing style and connecting with these amazing people – are exactly the thing spurring me on to take part this year.

  9. Thanks for reading and commenting, Janet. “Only made it to 33, 000” – love it! 😉 If I can get that many I’ll be thrilled.

  10. As far as I know you can do as much prep as you like before 1 November, but no actual mss writing. I’ve got a brief synopsis done and I’m hoping to get some character and plot notes done by October so it’s all nice and fresh and ready to start cooking 🙂
    As you say, letting people around you know that you have targets and goals may give you that extra space to focus for a month, and however far you get you come out of it with a good start to a new piece of work. I’m not totally sure how I’ll manage it properly as although Daniel will be at nursery half days Emily will be mobile by then so I may not gain any time at all! At the minute I can get around 1000 words done with an hour’s writing on a night, so we’ll see. I’m working on something else at the minute so I can practise building up my daily word count . 🙂

  11. Hi Becca
    Well done for deciding to join in.
    I took part for the first time last year, and now I have a novel under my belt. It does get a bit mad but we can all help each other along the way.

    R xx

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