You must be crazy: NaNoWriMo 2009

October 24, 2009 at 12:10 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments

NaNoWriMo. The very term strikes excitement into the hearts of many a writer. For many, it’s a chance to let loose, run with the fairies, and write, blissfully unaware of the grammar nazi, editor from hell, and eighth grade English teacher that have – for the time being – been chained to the back of your brain, not to be heard from for an entire month.

Many of us have already begun plotting our entire story out, making up scene charts, drawing characters, and filling out a hundred questions about each of them before November even starts. Some plan to just let their muses take them along for the ride.  It’s the ultimate exercise in write now, edit later. There is only one rule: between 12:01 on the 1st of November and 11:59 on the 30th of November, write 50,000 words. It can be anything: a series of poems, fan fiction, or a plot to take over the world for all the creators care. As long as it resembles Novel format, or something close to Novel format, you can write whatever your caffeine-induced crazy fairy lady tells you to write.

If you haven’t heard of NaNo, where have you been the last few weeks?  Just kidding! Go check out their website at and see what it’s all about. To give a five-second explanation, you basically write a 50,000 word novel in a month. We all see the problem here. Of course the novel isn’t going to be brilliant. You have to write 50,000 words in a month. Now, I don’t know about most writers, but I was once told by a friend of a friend who heard it from a creative writing lecturer that “we only write 500 or so good words a day, everything else is crap until you make it good in the editing process.” She really hit the nail on the head there. NaNo is really a very long writing exercise. You plot, you create, and you write under a time limit, which is a pretty vital skill if we make it to that stage where we have agents going, “You have three months to write a sequel. Ready, set, GO!”

But NaNoWriMo is more than that.  There are some awesome perks to writing a novel under the duress of a 30 day timeline.

  • You get to meet actual writers from your local area. Writers that you can meet for coffee to discuss ideas with in person, and talk about things that are relevant to your area. In my local area, our coordinator has organised four events so far, including all night write-ins at the local bookstore and meet and greets.  Needless to say, you meet people you never thought you would meet – people just as crazy as you are for undertaking the challenge.
  • Your novel might not be half bad. In turn, you may be able to spit shine it up to a respectable publishable level having knocked out a first draft in a month. Even the most dedicated writers don’t usually knock out a first draft in a month. I mean, who can honestly say that their best ideas have come to them after being sleep deprived, hyped up on caffeine and past that threshold where your rational brain waves bye-bye?
  • And finally, thanks to Create Space, Amazon’s self publishing company, anyone who finishes their book has a chance to get a proof copy sent to them free of charge, in paperback form.  (Although they say reasonable postage, so I’m guessing us foreigners will have to chip in something for postage.)  Basically, you get a code, and you don’t have to use it straight away, so after you win you can go back and edit it to your heart’s content and still get a free paperback form of your achievement. Now of course, this deal is to get you into self publishing, which I strongly advise against if you are trying to go the traditional route with other works. But you don’t have to go that far. It’s completely optional.  Just make sure you don’t sign up for an barcode and you’re still a debut author in the eyes of the law.

So now you know the basics of NaNo.

I would like to throw open the floor. What are your NaNo novels about? Are you plotting every scene, or are you going with the flow? What experiences have you had with NaNo? Curious about NaNo?

Good luck!



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  1. Good luck to everyone with Nano this year!

  2. The countdown is fast approaching, and plans, outlines, plot bunnies or whathaveyou are all very well and good – the thing that really matters is the wordcount and the mutual encouragement to get something written. I’ll be supporting everyone as best I can, but if it is a choice between banging out another couple of thousand words or sending morale-boosting nanomail, I’ll be furiously trying to hit 250k.

    Don’t stop writing until your fingers are bleeding… :D

  3. Whoot! NaNo here we come!!! =D

  4. 2nd attempt. Writing Book Three in a YA series. Got as far as outlining to Chapter 6 and have decided to stop there. I’m a pantser by nature and found it really hard to come up with The Big Picture beforehand. 6 chapters is a good start, I’m gonna see what the writing fairies come up with after that. If you’re looking for a writing buddy, I’m “DravensMom.”

  5. I’m going to TRY to write the sequel to CoS. Emphasis on the word TRY, lol. This is the first year I’ve really done NaNo, so it’s a bit scary.

  6. Aw, I wish I could participate this year. I am just waaay too busy. Lame. =[[

    But there is always next year. =D

  7. […] Posts You must be crazy: NaNoWriMo 2009Writing What You Don’t KnowThe NovelsThe WritersInterview With Author Susane ColasantiCharacter […]

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