Tuesday, September 28, 2010


As October will be arriving on Friday, this week I'm going to start gearing up to (unofficially) join in National Novel Writing Month, aka NaNoWriMo, which takes place every year for the entire month of November. During this annual novel-a-thon, writers all over the world will attempt to complete a book (to win, it must be 50,000 words in length). It's storytelling without a net, a deadline without mercy, and very real practice at what it takes to be a pro.

It's also more fun than you can imagine, because other than the target wordcount there are no rules. You just write a novel -- any novel you want -- exactly the way you want to write it.

I always have a couple of stories percolating in the back of my brain, so my first step is to create a dream list of ideas. Right now the ideas that are clamoring the loudest for some attention involve:

Valori, Ethan and Nathan (you'll meet them in January when Frostfire hits the shelves)
Kyan and Melanie from Twilight Fall
Lucan and Samantha (will they ever leave me alone? Probably not.)
Alex Davidov from Omega Games
Kari and Connor from After Midnight
Rainer and Farlae from Evermore

The list will probably get longer. It always does.

Last year I wrote something I'd never tried, an experimental genre fusion novel that I later finished and is at this moment making the rounds in NY. The departure from my usual work was a little scary at first, but once I hit my stride with the story the energy that came out of it was amazing. I couldn't wait to get to the keyboard every day -- and that was something at the time that I needed to recapture; that wild, get-out-of-my-way kind of writing.

NaNoWriMo isn't about getting published (or staying published), it's about us, what we do, and a whole month to celebrate it. Don't get me wrong, it's hard work, but with the right mindset it can also be a month-long party at the keyboard. All you have to do is dive in and start storytelling.

So tell me, how many of you are going to NaNo this year? Are you planning on doing anything new, different, or unusual with your November novel? Let us know in comments.


  1. I'm in. Even the years I adamantly say I'm not, somehow when November 1st, or sometimes 5th, rolls around, I'm right in there typing away. I do it because it's the one time of the year where writing takes priority. I haven't been able to set aside everything for many years...not since the first, I think...but it's still exhilirating.

    As far as the plan, this year I will be writing my first steampunk. It's a YA novel that's been poking at me since last December. I'm probably 3/4ths done with the outline at this point.

    However, there's always the possibility that something will leap out from left field and shove its way in.

  2. Mmm... yes, I'll be Nanowrimo-ing - writing sequels: a fourth Huntress, a second Demonesque and either a new piece or a third Knight Stalker (which ever occurs to me first).

    The family has been warned...

  3. Are we already thinking about NaNoWriMo? Uh, oh.

    Just kidding. I love NaNoWriMo, though I never hit the goal within the allotted time. I was thinking of skipping this year, but I've recently had werewolves and romance running around in my head - the former being something I've never written about before. NaNoWriMo could be the perfect arena for me to play and howl in without feeling self-conscious about not being familiar with the genre.

  4. Me! I'm doing NaNo this year! Last year it was super fun and I almost didn't make it.. but this year? I think it's going to be more challenging. What's your username in the forums?

  5. I'm in for NaNo this year! Will probably spend October trying to finish off the draft of my WIP so I have a clean slate for November - thinking supernatural mystery this year :-)

  6. Anonymous3:31 AM

    I'm nanoing again this year. And, for the first time, I'm going to be using that old nanowrimo stalwart theme "zombies". But only as the way in to the story - mostly, it's post-Singularity SF.

    My one-sentence summary is (at the moment!): "To save his brother, humanity and himself, a cautious biologist wrest the cure for the revenant plague from an alien post-Singularity culture."

  7. I plan to. I LOVE doing NaNo -- it's oddly energizing and so much fun to just let your brain run amok.

  8. Pamela wrote: What's your username in the forums?

    I don't have one. :) I do visit the NaNoWriMo site on occasion to lurk and read, but I'm always an unofficial participant.

  9. I'm in! Although I don't know what I'll be working on yet. I have two projects I'd really like to finish by the end of the year (in addition to the one I'm working on now). One is too short for NaNoWriMo, but I could work on both to get the word count.

  10. I will try it for the FIRST time... ever!

    But that means I need to get this revision I'm working on DONE in the next month.

    Way to put the fire under me. I already have a rough plan for the novel... hopefully I can get all my ducks in a row before then!

  11. Aw, you should join us, Lynn. That way you get all the little goodies at the end!

    This will be my fourth year and my second year trying something new. Last year I wrote a historical romance which was also a fictional account of how my multi-great grandparents met. This year will be an ecological mystery set in the Arctic. I don't know much about Arctic ecology now, but I will by Nov 1.

  12. Liz B8:45 AM

    I'm always in for attempting NaNoWriMo, though I've never had the chance to complete it. At some point in the month, work or life gets in the way and decimates my wordcount to a point that just can't be picked up. I'm already getting a sense of foreboding since I am already suffering from lack of sleep because of everything piling up, though maybe this means it will clear up by November... Either way, I'm still up for trying. Every year (with the terrible exception of last year, which shouldn't even be remembered) I get a little bit closer.

  13. I am thinking of entering NaNoWriMo as well:) Although it will be my first time!

    Good luck as well!!!

  14. Anonymous9:05 AM

    I'm Nanoing as well! I'm really excited. Last year I logged in, but knew I wouldn't be able to make the wordcount. My goal was to attend my local meetings and just have some fun. I didn't know what I was going to write, and I'd stalled on a book I'd been working on when I realized I had serious structure issues. Going to the Sunday meetings rejuvenated me and let me have fun writing whatever I wanted. My enthusiasm returned during the month.
    My daughter went with me last year, which was really fun too. I don't know if her sophomore year workload will allow her much time outside of the group write-ins, but she's asked if she can go again, so we'll be having Sunday afternoon time together (in our chairs with the computer... :D )
    I am re-thinking the wordcount as a goal. Instead, I hope to make a checklist of points to write and go from there. November is a tough month for me grading-wise, and I usually have guests for the holiday. I think I'll frame it in terms of scenes to complete, or daily goals. (I don't know how that will work; it might encourage me to sit and ponder longer. It will be an experiment.)
    I will also be running our local Nano preview, Collage-o-rama, in October. It's a chance for us to let new writers meet the group and ask questions before the month gets started.

  15. I celebrate NaNo in my own weird way. I haven't signed up or anything, but I promise myself to write as much as I can that month. Usually I do this because when November arrives, I'm already in the middle of something. This year, though, I'm ready to start a new story. I may even sign up for real this year. Woohoo. The hard part is going to be holding off until 11/1. =o)

    I wish you all success in your November endeavors. =oD

  16. I did Nano last year, and I have a story idea burning up in my mind. Not sure if I want to sign up again this year, so I may do the unofficial thing this year :)

  17. I think NaNo is a good time to do something different. I will have to settle on what, but I'm in.

  18. I can't wait for NaNo..!! Last year was my first time and though it was grueling and wrenching and agonizing, it was also exhilarating, glorious and so, so satisfying. I actually managed to finish and proudly could say "Been there, done that, got the tee shirt." It also spurred me on to complete my book over the winter, which was another mind-boggling achievement.

  19. *sigh* I have been a miserable failure this past three years, but like a glutton for punishment, I'm going to try again this year. I have an idea, it's been percolating for awhile now. It would be the third in a series, but I never know what's going to pop up and scream to be written instead. I never do seem to manage to finish within the month though.

    This year though, I'm going to try it using Write or Die. I seem to write, if not really well, at least a lot when I use it and some of it is actually usable! ;o)

  20. I'm in this year. I've always been in the classroom before, slaving away for teens. This year I'm in an office and have the time in the evening to work on my own writing! I tried to start something for WriDaNoJu (Write A Damn Novel in June) but computer squabbles decimated my word count. I'm hoping that this will be what it takes to get the story out of my head!

  21. I am thinking about it. Have done it twice before, successful both times.

    What is holding me back from that "resounding" yes right now is that I have a manuscript in progress that I would have to set aside for the month (since the rules say you have to start from scratch).

    But I have an idea for a 55k-ish manuscript that I could try to knock out that month, and then flip back to my other darling.

    And of course there is the day job and the family and Thanskgiving (and a kid with the entire week of thanksgiving off school...don't know yet whether that's a plus or a minus to the writing).

    Grrrr. Hard decisions. I hate setting goals that I might fail. And I hate wimping out on goals because I might fail.

  22. Lucan and Samanatha. No pressure. I'm just saying.

  23. I'm not sure. I want to finish this novel in October, and if it takes me into November I'm sure there won't be 50k left to work through, especially as this is a rewrite so I do have material already! (Or if I do still need 50k come Nov, there's a bigger problem here.)

    But I want to because Scrivener is offering 50% its new version for Windows to winners. Decisions, decisions! :)

    I like the new streamlined sidebar but I do miss the quote of the month. I always looked forward to seeing what you put up each month.

  24. I can't believe it's almost November again! This will be my fourth NaNoWrimo, and I think I'm going to try something new...but I don't know what. I just know that I can't wait for the pep talks!

  25. All of the other Darkyn must be jealous of Sam and Lucan for all of the attention you give them :).

    What are the genres you mixed? Sounds like it was fun.

    I'm in for NaNo again this year. I failed miserably last year, but it was good motivation to get writing every day -- on things that I actually like rather than just paid work.

  26. Anonymous6:32 PM

    I'm doing NaNo! This will be my sixth year, and with any luck, my fifth win. Goodness knows with being back in college I need the chance to just let my creative side run wild for about, oh, thirty days or so.

  27. I'm in again this year. Last year was amazing and I can't wait to do it all over again.

    I had a story I wanted to write for nano, but I couldn't wait until November, so now I'm probably going to spend the entire month of October trying to come up with a new story to write!

  28. I'm planning on doing it, but I don't know what yet. Last year was my first time.

  29. I've been an official NaNo participant/ML for five years. I took last year off & I'm ready to go. However, this year I'm going to do it unofficially. Being an official participant is about the camaraderie just as much as writing. I've slacked on writing so much this year that it's time to suck it up & just to it, not distractions. Plus, I'm writing sci-fi & I've never done that before, so it's a bit scary for me.

  30. I've done NaNo yearly since '05, and I just can't see myself stopping now. I'm not sure that I'll be doing anything new, unusual, or different, though; at this point just getting a consistent amount of daily writing feels like quite enough to worry about.

  31. I'm not a writer, but I enjoy your enthusiasm for the art. I was going to ask about your experimental genre that you shared tidbits last year. What do you mean by "making the rounds in New York"? Would love to read it.

  32. I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2006! I'm soooo pumped about it. I plan to get at least to 30k this year (instead of 50k) because of my classes. I'm trying to make a realistic goal instead of shooting for something impossible which will only result in me giving up during the 2nd week.

    I'll be working on a book that I'm writing for a special friend. :)



  33. Yes, me and all four of the kidlets.

    Last year, they all reached their (grade-based) wordcount goals... me, I didn't get anywhere near. Keeping them going kept me distracted, and then, par for the course, life threw in a couple monkey wrenches.

    This year, we're adding a word count competition. Their total against mine.

  34. Yes, I'll probably do it and have competed in Nano since 2006.

    I would like to be a bit more prepared than usual though so should probably try to come up with an idea that I can hang with for November. I am notoriously all over with my thoughts and easily distracted.

    A friend suggested I try two stories which makes me think of the old write the same story but from two drastically different viewpoints. Now this has only been one or two thousand times but I wonder....

  35. Sounds to me like someone should volunteer to write a guest pep talk. :) I know we'd love to have you.

    I've been doing NaNoWriMo since 2002; this will be my ninth. I volunteered as a local organizer for five years, and eventually got hired as staff. :) It's my almost-dream job.

    It's not quite accurate to say there there are no rules... there are. but at its heart, NaNoWriMO is a self-challenge, so the rules only matter as much as you want them to. :)

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  37. Heather wrote: Sounds to me like someone should volunteer to write a guest pep talk. :) I know we'd love to have you.

    I'd be delighted, Heather, any time. You guys are my online heroes.

  38. I'm doing NaNo for the first time this year, and I have to say, it's quite a frightening concept! I'd love to hear/read a pep talk by you, too, though!


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