Tuesday, December 1, 2009

NaNoWriMOh, Fine

Not quite a month ago, I wrote a post about NaNoWriMo. Or, rather, I lamented its very existence, noting that it is often used as an excuse for people who really have no business writing to produce not-quite-novel length pieces of... fiction and then proceed to harass other people with them. Based on my hard-won experience in publishing, I fear I must stand by my remarks, which were something to the effect that NaNoWriMo incites a lot of terrible querying and overall madness for the industry and most writers shouldn't need the "kick in the pants" that the event supposedly offers in order to get their writing lives in order.


I am not above admitting when I (may, if only once) have been wrong, and I do admit that the majority of the crazies (none of whom are here, Thank Google) would probably find a way to deluge agents and editors with their nonsense even without the vehicle of NaNoWriMo. I further admit that it's nice to have someone or something besides your own guilt/personal demons/spouse to help you make your writing a priority, which is far easier said than done. Therefore, I hereby join The Rejectionist in giving those of you who completed NaNoWriMo—or even attempted it—a round of applause.



  1. I think anyone who can pump out 50K quality words on demand in beyond talented. I’ve written three novels and each time I’ve written well over 50K words in a 30 day period. The thing is, I don’t get to choose when that 30 day period is. That’s up to my Muse. When he gets on a roll, I can’t type fast enough. But if I had to do it on someone else’s schedule, I can guarantee you that whatever I wrote would be a total piece of crap.

    A round of applause to those who created something other than crap in NaNo!

  2. Thanks for that :) Having NaNoWriMo helped my family to put up or shut up, so to speak. It helped them to see I was serious about my writing career (have a possible series being strung before me like yarn before a kitten **keeping fingers crossed).

    I made it to 64k words, but I can type, accurately, more than 60/minute and it was a fantasy with lots of world building, so that automatically helps the word count.

    Now, though, I have to go back to the gazillion comments I made and do the research needed for accuracy and the "feel" of my story.

    That is what will take the time. Editing. I can write a novel in a month. It's the editing that takes literally months to do. I think six months of editing before its ready for the query to be written (I wait until the book is ready) and then I usually find a plot hole or something and have to fix it again! So, next year, this time, should be able to start querying this book I churned out for NaNoWriMo!

  3. Congrats to everyone! I've never done NaNo, and probably never will, for many of the same reasons Lisa stated above. When my story hits, I just go with it. Currently riding the wave of my third novel, and loving every minute.

    Oh-Em-Gee, those tags are hilarious, Eric. Haha. Well done.

  4. Congrats to the NaNo'ers out there. I didn't participate but revised the heck out of my ms that I wrote in my own solo NaNo a month prior - I guess that would make it SoNoWriMo. I just hope I'm not querying at the same time as the NaNo masses.

    Also, I agree w/ Lydia that the tags for this post are hilarious!

  5. I didn't do NaNo this year because I'm in the middle of making final revisions to my manuscript before it goes out to publishers early next year. (needed...but oh so boring and time consuming)

    HOWEVER, I love the idea of just sitting down and letting the words flow without censoring, editing, etc...

    For me, though revising and tightening up everything makes the manuscript better, I think it's the worst part of being a writer. Give me the chance to purge my brain on paper for a solid month, any month of the year!

    Eric, love your blog.

  6. Hee hee. You WILL notice we did not advise those determined and hardworking persons to QUERY US with their results. Which was really all you were saying, underneath the lament.

    Our bonkers is a very endearing bonkers, at least. Or so we like to think.

  7. Yay!
    I can easily pump out 50k words in 30 days (and did so this November with 11 days to spare) but as Leona said (and as is reiterated on the nano site and book) it's the revisions and editing that take 6-12 months and any writer worth anything knows this.

  8. I love deadlines and work best under pressure. I missed four days and still hit the 50k mark -- but I did my first novel -- 100k+ in under 60. No, neither is published (yet) and the 2nd is only 1/2 way through the story, but it was great to have this lingering "thing" over my shoulder as it boosted me to go, go, go! :)

    So thanks for changing your mind! ;)

  9. LoL Kristi, that's what I'm doing right now, my own SoNoWriMo. I started participating in Nano but got sidetracked and now I'm writing a completely different novel. Oh Muse, how funny you are!

  10. This was my first year of NaNo (yes I won, no I won't be querying you . . . at least not with this MS for awhile!).

    Coolest thing I learned from NaNo: Knowing how rough my story is (now) emboldens me in the revision process - everything can change! Hack and slice? No problem. I wasn't emotionally attached to that chapter anyway!

    p.s. thanks for the almost-apology! :) But it wasn't necessary. We knows you secretly want to NaNo next year.

  11. I've now completed NaNoWriMo 5 times. None of my "novels" were anything approaching interesting, let alone brilliant, but they were fun to write. And I've made some really good friends along the way.

    I cringe whenever I hear someone say they've "written a novel" in 30 days. I know they wrote something, but it's far from what anyone in publishing would call a novel.

  12. I am all a-giggle at the tags for this post. Screaming awesome, I say!

    Waitwaitwait...Lisa, your Muse is *male*?! Why didn't I think of that? If I had, perhaps my muse and I would be better friends! Then again, he'd probably leave the seat up all the time and I'd have to kick his ass. Hmph.

    Can't have it all, I suppose :)

  13. I loved doing NaNoWriMo.

    NaNo is a state of mind - for some it may be an opportunity to thrash out a rough draft and see where it goes. I saw NaNo as an opportunity to learn about working to a deadline.

    I opted to write for MG because 50,000 would be a completed work. I did the research, created a working wall, wrote detailed character profiles because I wasn't allowed to write before the start date. Teams of ten-year-olds have been cold reading and working on revisions with me since the start of the process.

    I have written a novel in November.

  14. I got my 50,000 NaNo words. That means I can submit my snazzy new manuscript now, right?

    What? Those months and months of editing I still need to do before it's fit for human consumption? Aw, shucks. Better get to work now.

    Kimberly, my muse is male too. And hot. Makes it fun to sit down at the computer!

  15. I finished the full first draft for my NaNo at 81K+. It's not just random words, but a story. However, I am aware that it is a first draft and nowhere near ready for submission, but the whole atmosphere of NaNo and the pressure of deadline was amazingly productive. It saved me from procrastinating over nothing.

  16. 2009 was my very first NaNoWriMo. I am a winner! And while it is neither finished nor edited, it is not crap either. I kept a daily journal of my experiences on my blog that included teasers for my readers and have received some very encouraging comments. I am about to post my NaNo wrap up on the blog... what I learned and so forth... So please stop by http://www.scottnoir.blogspot.com

    I am happy to have done NaNo for a myriad of reasons, but I am disappointed in all of the backlash the program has received. I am so proud of having completed it without fluff and without filler that I even considered (foolish me) putting the fact of completion in my bio section on my next queries, whenever they go out sometime next year when I am done editing. But the way people, especially industry insiders, are talking... I would almost do better to hide it, except for family and friends.

    In any case, I am happy to have completed 50k words in 30 days with an unsupportive wife, a two year old, and 60 hour/ week job in tow. And in truth, it is my own satisfaction that carries the most weight.

  17. That's the spirit! We're glad to have your support.

  18. Some of my writing pals who participated called NaNo "30 days of sheer writing abandon!" I have to admit... even though NaNo doesn't feel right for me, that kind of freedom to churn out lots of crap internal-editor-free is very appealing :).

  19. My muse is most definitely male--also screaming hot and a wannabe rock star. I'm just the poorly paid help with the laptop. Actually, slave labor is more accurate. I won't be poorly paid until we sell something. My agent has us on submission, so maybe I'll actually get paid eventually.

  20. That's IT. I'm trading up for a rock star man-muse! I don't care how much he distracts me.

    I did write 35K words this month by happenstance. I didn't participate in NaNo, but got the bug and was forced by that *other* muse to sit down and hammer out a draft that may or may not become something when it grows up.

    Christopher, I hear ya on the satisfaction. I am lucky that my husband just accepts my writing weirdness pretty much as-is, and my three young kids don't mind going strangely unbathed here and there when I can't manage to tear myself away from my MS, but it is hard to write when you're not yet lucky enough to do it as your (only) paid job.

    30 days of sheer writing abandon...it's like literary hedonism, no? ;)

  21. @Kimberly, thanks for the shoulder of support. And, cheers to your 35k!

  22. I'm totally with Leona. This is my second nano, and hence my second novel. I think they're decent first drafts. Unfortunately they're first drafts... Revising makes me want to cry...I'll see if I actually get it done this year, because I need to be an author.

  23. I'm a new reader by way of The Rejectionist, but I thought I'd just say hello and mention that I started a novel in October purely by accident and then when NaNo rolled around, I took the opportunity to enjoy some of the community that springs up each November. I finished my first draft on the 30th at around 86k, and it was kind of nice to know that there were a bunch of other people out there doing the same sort of thing that I was.

    Not to mention that writing really is something that requires practice if you're going to become any good at it, and given the overall level of literacy in some quarters of the modern world, anything that encourages people to write and read and create is a good thing in my view.

    It's the literary equivalent of the hobby marathon - sure, you're not going to win an Olympic gold medal, but it's still a good goal to work towards and it beats sitting on the couch watching QVC. :P