Friday, October 14, 2011

Getting Ready for NaNoWriMo?

Lit agent Janet Reid, pictured above, circa Dec. 2
National Novel Writing Month is seventeen days away. As I'm sure you know, the project aims to get tens of thousands of people around the world writing 1,666 words a day (every day, which means laptops perched on Thanksgiving tables) to complete a 50,000-word manuscript inside a single month. I've never tried it, but I'm planning to this time--in fact I'm cheating a little: I've already got 20,000 words written, and a solid outline, so I'm not starting from scratch.

I've heard tell that literary agents dread December because they're deluged with queries
for crappy, unrevised novels hot off of NaNo. So here's a tip: get your queries (for your painstakingly revised, brilliantly plotted, achingly beautiful manuscripts) out before the holidays.

And let's all keep in mind Hemingway's famous quote: "The first draft of anything is shit."

Have you done NaNo? Planning to this year? What's your take on the project? Useful? Or misguided? How do you get ready? Any blog-buddies care to join me to share the arc of triumph or the agony of defeat?


  1. Gail,

    NANOWRIMO was just what I needed a couple years ago to get my next book written. By some miracle, I finished my first draft of Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen in 29 days (and blogged about the experience). After lots of revision, I sold the book to Delacorte Press. And it's coming out this March.

    I think NANOWRIMO is a great way to focus on the writing and letting other things (like TV) fall away.

    Good luck to all the NANOWRIMO writers this year. You can do it!!!


  2. I haven't done it before, but I plan to this year. I have a totally new idea I'm very excited about. Getting a first draft down is the hardest part for me, so I like being accountable somewhere. Maybe we'll have new manuscripts to swap by the end of the year!

  3. Donna, great to know!

    Gail, I am not yet ready for this, but it sounds utterly amazing and terrifying. I think a good outline is key! I hope you will be blogging about it in between those 1,666 words!!

  4. I'm doing it this year for the first time. I'm equally excited and nervous. I know I can write 50k in a month because I've done it before--but never when I had intended to do it.

    I've been planning, planning, and I'm really ready to start. I'm actually losing a little interest in my story because of the delay in starting--but I'm sure I will get excited again as soon as I write that first sentence!

  5. I have done Nano, but never "won" -- cranked out 20 to 25k though so not a bad showing.

    I think your approach is sound -- having already started your project and understanding where it's going. Starting from scratch for me was always tough because I burned time figuring out my plot before moving on -- I didn't want to keep writing without a plan.

    Best of luck!

  6. Yay, Donna, you are an inspiration to us all! And yes Michelle, I hope we'll be trading ms's again by next year. I also hope I'll have a moment left over to blog about the experience...we'll see.

  7. I participated in 2009, skipped last year, but am mapping out my new idea for this year. I only want to start the development ahead of time. Writing for me will begin on day 1 and surely keep me busy on Thanksgiving.
    Good luck!

  8. Hey, Gail! I don't do NaNo, but I can totally see people submitting their NaNo products to agents in December! Interesting, isn't it?

    And thanks for commenting on my blog! It's great to see you!

  9. I love this idea but would like to strangle the person who planned it in November. Between Thanksgiving and my son's birthday, November is one of the few months when my focus severely lags. I just can't pull it off. What I'm considering, though, is doing my own NaNo in another, less stressful month. Like March. That, I could probably do.

    Good luck! Unlike all those editors and agents, I can't wait to read your next novel, in all its unfinished glory!

    Becca @ The Bookshelf Muse

  10. I'm not actually signing up, but I'm planning on using it as a challenge to write my own 50k during November. Good luck to you :-)

  11. Not sure I'll have time for NaNo this year. But you never know... :) Good luck to you!

  12. Hemingway has some brilliant quotes, doesn't he? :) I never have joined in on the NaNo delight, but maybe this year I'll give it a try. Wishing each one of you success on your WIP!

  13. I did NaNoWriMo last year and loved the insanity. I started with a loose outline but not a single word written. I worked like a fiend, ignoring everything except bathing and sometimes that didn't happen until afternoon. Ewww, right? BUT, I wrote 58,000 words and was a winner! I stuck that load of horse malarky on a back burner for six months and started editing, and OMG if it's not salvageable. BLAZE isn't getting any attention right now, because I'm trying to get ready for Big Sur, but you should totally do it. You'll love it!

  14. @Becca, I know, it's hard to imagine a worse month to do this, with approaching holidays, etc. There's at least a week around Thanksgiving where I seriously can't imagine turning out 1666 a day. Guess I'll have to do twice as much the week before. : )

    Thanks for the best wishes, girls!

  15. I haven't done NaNoWriMo yet, and won't this year because I've in the middle of finishing up something. But I'm really tempted to next year (when I should be finished with current WIP and looking for a new project.)