Tue
Oct 28 2008 3:06pm

The Scary Thing is Almost Here

I’m not talking about that pumpkin-and-candy-corn business, but about the spine-tingling, hair-raising horror of…

National Novel-Writing Month.

The very concept is so fearsome that it is usually known only as “NaNoWriMo” or “NaNo,” a ritual lasting the month of November in which devotees attempt to conjure an entire 50,000-word novel from the dark depths of their own minds. These crazed writers forgo sleep, give themselves carpal tunnel and ritually scald their tongues with hot tea to prove their devotion to their all-powerful and merciless master. Or mistress. Whichever. “NaNo” actually sounds like Mork with a cold to me, but that doesn’t decrease its power to leave me shaking in my stylish-yet-affordable boots.

The idea, according to people who have successfully completed a NaNovel, is to turn off the obsessive self-editing and just write.   It has to be 1,612 words a day, but it doesn’t have to be good—revisions later, words on paper now.  You have a timeline, a goal, and a great support network of similar-minded supplicants .  You’re all before the altar of NaNo together. If you keep meaning to write a novel and never quite get around to it, there’s no reason not to do NaNo.

And that’s the scary part.

21 comments
Lianne Burwell
1. LKBurwell
Ah, Nano. I've got my file, some vague outlining, characters, and a lot of enthusiasm.

Mind you, in the six (seven) years I've done it, I've only made it to the goal once. Usually I find my natural limit is about 30,000.

But this year I'm not handicapping myself by going out of town for the first few days of the month. Okay, I'll still be sitting in an arena (Skate Canada time) for the first two days of November, but I'm still going home at night this time around, and I'm taking monday off, so I can get caught up on both sleep and writing.
Elizabeth Adams
2. ehadams
Actually its 1667 words a day.

I won last year and plan on doing it again this year. NaNo is a ton of fun and afterwards you can say you have written a novel.

Best advice I can give is- never use the backspace key. If you hate something and want to remove it or pretend it never existed, color it red (or blue or whatever) in your word processing program then keep writing on.
Josh Kidd
3. joshkidd
This will be my third year participating. I only actually made it to 50,000 last year. I agree with the advice about never using the backspace key. Just keep writing.
Joshua Starr
4. JStarr
I was wondering if anyone was going to post about this! NaNoWriMo always has very active science fiction and fantasy forums, often with some entertaining (if perhaps not *always* useful) idea/critique threads. In any event, I'm excited - I'll be doing NaNo for the first time this year. A couple other friends will be noveling along with me - one who "won" last year, and one who's just as new as I am. Fun stuff.
Scribble
5. Scribble
It's actually 1,667 a day -- 1,612 would get you 48,630 words, just short enough of the mark to cause you exquisite mental pain. And yeah, it's really, really hard, but it's also fun. Exhilarating, like. I'm looking forward to it. Maybe I can beat last year's 50,015.
Megan Messinger
6. thumbelinablues
...mathfail. Sorry! Clearly I was panicking too much about the thundering footsteps of NaNo's approach to, um, work the calculator on my computer. :-P
Amy Paul
7. redtailedhawk
Yea November.
Yea NaNo.
Yea No sleep.
Yea Too much coffee.
Yea 50,000 words.
Really, when you look at it that way, it's not that bad, is it?
Scribble
8. House 6
I love NaNo!

Last year was my first year, I came in with just under 70k words. I did an unofficial NaNo in February this year, 73k (2k short of my goal).

This November I have just one project planned, a comic fantasy spoof. And I think it might actually be done at 50k (hooray for Ya!). I'm hoping I can finish the 50 before Thanksgiving so I have time to work on other projects next month, and cook. :o)


P.S. The trick is to not sit and write all at one time. Get up 15 minutes early and do 500 words before work. Try to slip 500 onto your zip disk at lunch, and then do another 700-1000 before bed. Most people write more than that in e-mails every day.
Jamie Grove
9. jamiegrove
I'm doing NaNo this year for the first time. I'm excited about it because the book I'm working on is something new but also something I guess I've wanted to write for a long time. NaNoWriMo was the excuse I needed to get back to work. :)

Writing 50K in 30 days is totally doable. Great post, Megan!
Arachne Jericho
10. arachnejericho
Last year I got into, basically, a word war with several other people. It was fun. First place ended at 195,000 words, I ended up second at 140,000, third was 125,000. To give you an idea.

We weren't competitive at all. *shiny toothy grin*

This year I've decided that if I get to the end of a book early I'll stop rather than skid into December to finish up a second book.

Word war anybody?
Jeffrey Richard
11. neutronjockey
I hear Pablo is looking forward to extending his duties and responsibilities at Tor: taking on a portion of December's slush --- he said he wants all the WoW and AD&D NaNoWriMo submissions.

I swears it!
Dave Bell
12. DaveBell
When things go well, it looks as though it might be easy for me.

But they never seem to go well for enough days in a month.
Scribble
13. nutmeag
Unless I can come up with a plot line in the next three days, I will not be participating. Which kinda sucks seeing as I have a massively boring job that would allow me to do most of my writing at work . . .

And I must add, nice use of a Buffy quote, Megan. It made me squee just a lil bit. :-D
Jamie Grove
14. jamiegrove
@neutronjockey You're right about Pablo.

He announced on Twitter two weeks ago. He said it would be ok to DM the submissions 140 characters at a time. :)
Scribble
15. PiratePerian
Actually, I don't know which is scarier: taking 6 months to write 90,000 words, or taking one month to write 50,000 words and getting it out of the way. With the first one, it eats up your entire life for six months -- with the second one, you untimately get more time free but it eats all your coffee money.

So, time or money?

OH WAIT. I work in book publishing. I don't have money to spare. Guess that answers that question: no NaNo for me!
Megan Messinger
16. thumbelinablues
PiratePerian! Welcome aboard. I understand if the coffee-maker in your office is less than appetizing, but you can always make tea! C'mooooon. Weren't you and supertailz plotting out your next book just a couple of weeks ago?

neutronjockey@ 11 -- Did he also forget to mention how much he's into coming-of-age unicorn fables? Probably just being shy.

arachnejericho @ 10, I am boggled. BOGGLED.
Josh Storey
17. Soless
I prefer to call November by it's other alias: National Make English Majors Feel Bad About Themselves Month or "NMEMFBATM" for short.

(Full disclosure: NaNo does kick me in the ass and make me get some words on paper.)
Arachne Jericho
18. arachnejericho
thumbelinablues @ 16 -

At the height of it (and before I got hit by flu in the last week, I swear that's what kept me from hitting 180k) I was writing at nearly 1500 words per hour. My problem was mostly that I'd burn through the scenes I had sketched out earlier faster than I had hours left in the night. (I touch type, obviously.)

They say that typing uses both halves of your brain, kind of like music. Or possibly interference. I dunno.
J Sierra
19. jhsierra
First time with Nanowrimo here. Going to be tons of fun!

50k words? mmm, going to be an interesting exsperience. Cant be any worse than writing a book where the ideas to the book are burning your brain.
Ren Bail
20. renatus
I highly approve of NaNo. I tried it for the first time back in 2002 with no plot and convinced I'd gone nuts. Imagine my surprise when I made the goal and my story actually made some amount of sense!

NaNo not only got me back into writing fiction again, it got me past the weird mental block I had about writing any fiction more than four pages long.
Dave Bell
21. DaveBell
10,000 words before local midnight, Sunday.

Dear reader, I have come to fear that I am posessed by some alien spirit.

Does anyone know what Lionel Fanthorpe or Bron Fane are doing?

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