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10/11/2012 / forgingshadows

Why do we do Nanowrimo?

I just read a very interesting article featured in Time Entertainment: “Nanowrimo: Is National Novel Writing Month a Literary Threat or Menace?” The article includes a number of criticism from editors, publishers and authors, but ultimately stands up for Nanowrimo.

I don’t usually do a lot of reading about Nanowrimo during November. I’m supposed to be churning out the words, after all. But I clicked on this link because I found the tagline so interesting. I’ve seen a few ‘Don’t do Nanowrimo’ articles in the past few months, and to be honest the ones I’ve read often seem to miss the point of Nanowrimo.

The point of Nanowrimo is to write a novel, not to publish one.

A lot of people who slate Nanowrimo cite the publishing houses that are inundated with short, poorly written manuscripts right at the beginning of December. That’s hardly the fault of the programme. What we do with our novels after we have written them is not determined, encouraged or excouraged by those in the Office of Letters and Light.

To some extent I think the attitude of the Office irks some authors who spent months or years carefully crafting a novel – hey, look guys, you can write a novel in a month, don’t worry about it! They respond in kind, stating that nothing that comes out of Nanowrimo can be good and the writing process doesn’t work that way.

They also don’t seem to get that Nanowrimo only promotes the first step in a very long process. Most manuscripts aren’t anywhere near finished with just the content by the time we hit 50k. So we have to keep writing – if we want to, after gorging ourselves with metaphors, action scenes, lengthy sentences and dirty tricks to get the word count up. After that comes the editing, more editing, the tentative offering to friends and then yet more editing, all in a continuous cycle that only ends when our self-loathing does. If we don’t give up after that, then we can start accruing those delightful rejection slips.

I used to think that the point of Nanowrimo was to publish a novel. I started participating in Nanowrimo in 2005, and have won three times since then. When I didn’t finish, it was because I didn’t think I had a good idea, and I was despondent over the state of my writing. When I did finish, I looked over what I had, realised that I could never publish it, and became despondent over the state of my writing.

Sometime between last year and this year, things changed. I was not at all pleased with last year’s novel. I had written it with the intention of reworking one of my old, failed stories, and putting it up for publication. Instead, it wallowed for 50,000 words until I could finally put it out of its misery on November 30. But despite the fact that I wrote what was possibly the worst Nanowrimo novel I have completed so far, I wasn’t upset at all. I was pleased. During the course of writing that novel I got to see exactly what I wanted from it. I decided which characters got to stay, which had to go, and how they all had to be different. And some time later, I sat down and wrote a very promising prologue.

I decided not to try finishing that novel for Nanowrimo, because by now I was familiar with the pattern. I write things in a rush, I don’t look at them, I end up deciding that they’re trash. So rather than waste a strong, interesting idea, I decided to treat Nanowrimo like a writing exercise. It helps me prove to myself that I can write something of magnitude – at least, physical magnitude.

Other wrimos do use Nanowrimo to write something publishable. The writing process is different for everyone, and what ends, for me, in failure, may be the recipe for success for many of you.

What do you use Nanowrimo for?


06/11/2012 / hanorcross

Word count boosters

So 10,000 words huh? I started yesterday, no shame here. I have about 1,700 words. I will get there.
In the event that I will need help, I have taken a page from the Nano site and I am wondering what you all do to boost your word count? Little word count cheats I call them. Here are some obvious ones that I may or may not have used in the past:
GIve your characters multiple names and use them every time you mention them.
Describe EVERYTHING down to the composition of the dirt under their feet
do not use contractions
Use a ton of dialog even if they are just saying “huh” or “hmm”

What are some of your tricky word boosting tips?

02/11/2012 / Jasmine

Off on the Write Foot?

It’s been a day or two now – how’s it going? Post word counts if you want to, or just let us all know how you’re doing so far!

31/10/2012 / hanorcross

Plot Ideas

Most of the Nano get togethers around DC are 45 minutes from my house. Who has time for that? That is valuable writing time! This means I don’t get to participate in all those fun writing exercises that Val was talking about in her last post. I think this forum is a great place to do those exercises for those of us that don’t venture from the novel writing nest quite as often.
Let’s start with the exercise Val mentioned, in the comments write about your plot and everyone else can comment back on what they would like to read if they were reading your novel.
Lets get those ideas flowing!! only one more full day to go!!!

allow me to start…
Two rival fast food businesses are at odds. What started as friendly competition over the years has escalated into Civil War. The country has taken sides in this high cal collision over secret family recipes. In this post apocalyptic world people only have 2 constants: fear and condiments. The son of royal burger’s CEO is kidnapped and tortured for the recipe. Will he break or will he be able to stand his ground when the oil gets hot?

30/10/2012 / Jasmine

Balancing Work and NaNo

This is my first year really committing to NaNo…but also my first year as a freelance writer. I just got a weekly gig that requires, at a bare minimum, 19,000 words each week. On top of that, I have several other regular clients and a craft fair coming up mid-month that kind of blindsided me (I applied a month ago and JUST found out I got accepted).

I’m worried that trying to do all this writing work will quickly sap all of my energy for NaNo. I know that other people manage 40 hour a week jobs and still get it done. Does anybody have any tried-and-true strategies for writing even when you have work to do? I’d appreciate any advice or tips you have to offer!

29/10/2012 / valmcneill13

NaNo NaNo NaNo…it’s fast approaching!

WELL I went to a nano kick off party yesterday. I was mildly entertaining, mostly because I can’t understand a lick of Swedish. I don’t think I was the only one there with that problem, but I’ll admit it makes for meeting people QUITE DIFFICULT. Especially when we’re all standing around a cookie/coffee table and I can’t understand whaaat is happening.

PLUS SIDE. we did a lot of really fun writing exercises, one where we all wrote down a short synopsis of our plots and passed them around and everyone wrote suggestions or things they would like to read that went along with the plot. It was really interesting to see where everyone’s minds were, and how many different writing styles will be going on this month.

I’m pretty sure I’m still sticking to the category of things I’m afraid of (or more accurately, things that cause me so much anxiety that I have some problems sleeping if my imagination slips away), but I think that I’m going to do a little more research into things that other people are afraid of, and try to put myself in their shoes and come up with some really great short what-if scenarios for each one. Seems easy enough to me right now, I’m just wondering how far I’m going to get before I run out of things to say, or before my imagination gets bored and goes off elsewhere.


26/10/2012 / forgingshadows

Beloved Writing Places

home of students, procrastinators and wrimos alike.

This is my favourite cafe, possibly in the entire world. I started coming here regularly last November, when daily write-ins were scheduled between 9 and 10:30. The coffee is cheap, the food is reasonably priced, and the waiters and baristas don’t mind that you sit there for four hours and only drink one filter coffee.


Paludan is a cafe and used bookstore. The bookstore is in the basement, the bar and ordering station on the ground floor, and tables dot the ground and first floor. Bookshelves line the walls to give the cafe that certain cozy atmosphere and the blinding light of the sun can be blocked out by thick crimson curtains. Walls that lack bookshelves are filled with local art.

Here I have probably written a hundred thousand words or so. And that’s in between the chatting with fellow writers, checking email, and reading webcomics. I find it one of the best places to just let myself go and write. Inspiration sits on every shelf, hangs from the ceiling or waits behind the bar. And if I want to take a five minute walk and clear my head, the area is filled with narrow cobblestone streets, bizarre Renaissance constructions, and Copenhagen’s main library is just around the corner in case I need a little research material.

Who else has a favourite place to write? Is it easier to go out, or stay in? Do you meet up with others?