The Writers Circle: NaNoWriMo

One of our goals here at Today’s Author is to help all of the writers among us to do what we love to do: write. One of the best ways to accomplish this is by talking to each other and learning from each other.  Our Writers Circle series is designed to do just that – provide a chance for us to discuss writing, editing and publishing questions.

This week’s topic is:

With the calendar set to flip over to October tomorrow, thoughts for many thousands of people around the world will also flip over to National Novel Writing Month.  So we’d like to know:  Have you participated in NaNoWriMo? What have you learned or gained from it?  Will you do it again?  If you haven’t done NaNoWriMo, are there reasons you would or would not consider it in the future?

Let’s discuss this in the comments and see what our community thinks.

27 thoughts on “The Writers Circle: NaNoWriMo

  1. I am a NaNoWriMo-Rookie. This will be my first year and I am participating because I have waited too long to make my dream come true, I want to write a book or ten. I am also attempting NaNo with my daughter, so the experience of attempting it at the same time as her is a big motivation.

    • Good luck! Doing NaNoWriMo with my children has been an awesome experience. If she is doing the YWP, she can set her word count. I don’t know how old she is or her writing experience or her schedule, but I would recommend that you have her set her goal realistically based on school, extra-curricular activities, etc. My daughter is 15 and is an experienced writer… but is so busy with high school and band and dance and other things that she can basically only commit to a 5000 word effort at first. If things are going well, she’ll increase it. But she won’t decrease it. My son, on the other hand, is 11 and is busy with school and baseball and band and other sports. He commits to 4000 initially most of the time, then ends up writing over 10,000 words. The goal they set should be a challenge, but it should not be so much of a challenge that they are setting themselves up to fail. If that makes any sense at all.

  2. This will be my first NaNoWriMo. I thought that this would be a good time to dust off that novel that I started some 20 odd years ago and see if I can actually finish this thing. Wish me luck!

    • Good luck! You might even consider leaving the dusty old novel in it’s resting place and starting over. But either way, it’s a good idea to use this as a motivator to get writing!

      • Well, considering that the dusty old novel is on 3-1/2 inch floppies, the official novel will remain on the shelf. But I still would love to work on the concept and start over from scratch.

        • I think what Rob means is that it might be more difficult to try to recreate what you remember of your dusty old novel than it would be to start something brand new from scratch. When you’re rewriting something you’ve spent a lot of time working on, you find yourself unconsciously trying to recreate the things you remember of that other project. On the other hand, when you’re starting something completely different, it’s easy to let yourself go and let the novel tell you where it wants to go. Just a thought.

          • I understand and it is perfectly possible that will happen. We’ll just have to see what happens. It could be that I will be in the middle of doing this and come up with a completely new idea. I tend to write whatever comes into my random head. 🙂

  3. I’ve done it before, I’m not doing it this year, and I will do it again. I did it for 3 years–finishing twice–but I did it the wrong way. I just had an idea and started. But by the end I’d written the life out of the stories–mostly because I wasn’t prepared for all the decisions I’d have to make along the way. The next time I do it, I will prepare for it in advance, with notes on plot and characters, etc.

  4. I’ve done it several times in the past and will do it again this year. Last year’s kickoff got scuppered by Hurricane Sandy and I could never get back on my feet for it. This year I’m hoping for a clean slate.

  5. This will be my eighth NaNoWriMo (I have won all 7 times so far). I’ve done this with my children and my wife for all but the first (my children started participating in 2007, my second year). Each year I learn new things about myself as a writer and in many ways as an editor (or self-editor as it were).

    My favorite novel among the seven I’ve written is probably my second one, Darkness Falls, which was also my first foray into the fantasy genre. The story itself just worked and it was my easiest effort of all of them. The last two years have been the most difficult, partly because of job issues and family issues, partly because of Superstorm Sandy last year and partly because I just could not keep my attention on it (my stubbornness is the only reason I completed these novels the last two years).

    I don’t know what I’m going to write this year. Not even an inkling of a clue. I usually don’t have a great idea by this time, but typically there are at least a few conceptual things floating around my skull. I will be honest and say that I’m a little panicked that I don’t have even a vague idea yet, but I’m not worried… it will come. Since I basically always write by the seat of my pants, I can get away with not having an idea before November 1.

  6. I have never done it. Why? I’m usually amidst some other writing and don’t want to start something new. If I could ever time it right, I would join. Everyone I know who does it loves it.

    Dale–when I do it, I’ll do it the way you suggest–notes, ideas, the whole works, all ready to go!

  7. I’m pretty new to NaNoWriMo and always thought I wouldn’t need it, but as an idea for a story hit me and I think that the community could be real inspiring, I’m going to give it a try this year and see what happens.

    • The community can be a huge motivator and inspiration. A few years ago, Heather Dudley and I were both struggling and way behind. We publically challenged each other and once that was out there and other folks started weighing in and cheering us on, there was no way we were going to let each other not cross the 50,000+ word finish line. Good luck!

  8. I’ve never done it, and I’m hoping to do it this year to wrap up a story I’ve been working on.

  9. This will be my fourth year participating in NaNo. I love the motivation of a deadline and the community of writers all working toward the same goal at the same time! I’ll be blogging about my progress – good luck everyone!

  10. I did it once two years ago and it was a great experience even though I didn’t finish. I’m attempting it again this year and I’m preparing myself by doing research, plenty of note taking and I’ll be outlining my novel in Excel this time around.

  11. I did Camp NaNo this past April and it was harder than I thought. Things went well first off but as I got farther into the month, it was more difficult to put my ideas together. I like to stretch out my time line a bit 🙂 I don’t think I’m ready for a full-on November NaNo, even though I have some notes that would be great to focus on during the month. I did finish and publish the novella I wrote during April (let it cool off and then edited in July) and hope to do the same with my current work…just maybe not in a month! Like Diana said, I have been doing research and taking notes, so I might change my mind by then…

  12. I’m getting ready to head into my first NaNo this year! I read the NaNo Bible AKA No Plot? No Problem! when I was in high school but never felt I had the time to do it. Now, as a newlywed professional, I know I don’t have the time, but I’m going to do it anyway! I’ve found a group of friends who are doing it with me to be my support system and I’m already thankful of them. I’ve almost finished outlining my novel because my theory is that if I’m stuck where I am, I can move on to the next point and connect them in January when I have the time. I’m so excited for November!

    • Good luck! NaNoWriMo is all about the “I have no time but I’m going to do this anyway” line of thinking. You’ll fit right in and with support systems in place, you are already well on your way!

  13. This will be my first NaNoWriMo. I’ve written book-length works before and just got my first one published recently (a nonfiction piece called “The Trickster in Ginsberg”). I’m excited about participating in NaNoWriMo this year, however, because I’m really looking to get involved with other writers in my area — being a part of a community of artists is very important for me

  14. This will be my first year of NaNo. I’ve written novels before but my final years of high school got me out of the habit of constantly writing. Now I’m getting back into it and delving back into the world I first created when I was 14! I’m excited to challenge myself and connect with writers in my area 🙂 But if anyone has any tips I’d greatly appreciate them!

  15. Not this year and probably not at all ever. I’m a pretty focused writer most of the time. The pressure of writing to accomplish the NaNoWriMo goal of completing a book doesn’t appeal to me – I need to focus on contacting potential agents for the 3 books I’ve finished. But the thought of being a community of writers – that has a strong draw. I wish everyone well and success.

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