National Novel Writing Month

Writing a novel in a month is a crazy idea, but every year in November, a lot of people try to do it. Or, at least, they try to write 50,000 words in one month, getting a long way to having a decent draft to work off.

I’ve never participated in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, as it’s called. However, this year, I’m jumping in and participating for the first time. I need to finish my current book, and I think having a whole load of writing buddies, egging me on, and supporting me, just as I will support them, will help me.

It looks like there is a lot of camaraderie amongst participants and I’m looking forward the the experience.

A lot of my non-writing friends often ask me if I agree with the prevailing wisdom that ‘Everyone has a book in them.’ And my answer is, yes, everyone ‘may’ have a book in them, but having a book in you is one thing. Sitting down to write 80,000+ words that make sense and hang together in a way that holds the reader’s attention isn’t for everyone. Faced with doing that, or a poke in the eye with a blunt stick, I’d say my husband would choose the blunt stick. At least it’s over fast and only hurts for a little while. :)

And a lot of my friends agree that would be their choice, too. My husband is not alone :) .

So, for the writers who read this blog, have you ever participated in NaNo, and if so, what did you get out of it? If you’re doing it this year, please list your Nano name in the comments and I’ll make you a writing buddy. My NaNo name is michelled (so unique, so snappy :) ). And for the readers, do you ever get the yen to write a book, or does the very thought make you look desperately for that blunt stick?

About Michelle Diener

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction for Gallery Books. Her debut novel, IN A TREACHEROUS COURT, released in August, 2011, is set in the court of Henry VIII. It features the real historical figures of illuminator and painter, Susanna Horenbout, and Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King's Robes, John Parker. A second book, also featuring Susanna and Parker, THE KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, was published on April 3rd, 2012. THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY, a historical novel set in London during the Napoleonic Wars, is set for a November 27th, 2012 release.
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29 Responses to National Novel Writing Month

  1. Elle J Rossi says:

    Hi Michelle,

    This will be my first year participating in NaNo. I’m excited, yet trying to be realistic. That’s a lot of words in a very short time. But it’s motivating. I’m going to push myself!

    My NaNo name is also very unique. NOT! ElleJRossi

    Looking forward to seeing you there!

  2. Yay, Elle, another first timer for me to hang out with! I’ve added you to my buddy list. I look forward ‘seeing’ you there. :)

  3. This is my first year :shock: My user name is moonsanity. I’m getting nervous. VERY nervous. I hope to challenge myself– I’m 50, and thought I’ve written nonfiction for a long, long time I’ve only been writing fiction for just over a year. I’m not getting any younger. LOL I’ve completed short stories and have WIP, but I really want to complete NaNo.

    • Brenda, yay, glad to be in such good company. I’ve already added you as a buddy. Huge kudos to you for jumping into Nano after only a year of fiction writing. We can urge each other on. :)

  4. Amy Atwell says:

    Michelle,
    I love the concept of NaNoWriMo. I’m not participarting, but November is always a rough month for me to clear the decks and do nothing but write. A few years ago, I did my own book-in-a-month challenge and wrote a great first draft of a story I still hope to one day polish and submit. There’s nothing like immersing oneself in a story day after day until it’s done. Best wishes to all the NaNoers out there!

    • Thanks, Amy! And yes, there is something very valuable in immersing yourself in your story. The more you write, the more you are able to write, I think. Let’s hope so, anyway!

  5. I’ve been participating on my own for years, but this year I actually signed up. I’m at besanderson – yeah, mine’s unique and snappy, too. I look the whole NaNo thing as preparation for the day I have a publishing contract. If someday I need to write to deadline, I know I can do it because every November, I do NaNo. =oD

    Good luck and lots of success to everyone.

    • Hi B.E. – fantastic. My buddy list is filling up! And wow, I’m impressed you’ve done Nano on your own for a couple of years. I’ve done a monthly Tour de Force with a writing group I belong to, but I’ve never aimed as high as 50,000 words. Eeek!

  6. Berinn Rae says:

    Michelle –

    Great post! I’m looking forward to joining you as a NaNo first timer this year, too. My uber-creative NaNo name is berinnrae. :smile:

    • Hi Berinn, we’re obviously all saving our creativity for our Nano novels, rather than using them up on our Nano handles ;) . Great to have you as a buddy, and good luck to us all!

  7. I did NaNo (and “won”) a couple of times. It’s definitely a blast and can really do wonders for focus– but the thing I found fascinating (people watcher that I am) was the message boards. Going back to your comment about everyone having a book “in” them– the message boards are just rife with individuals who clearly are in love with the idea of being able to say they’re “working on a book.” It’s also fascinating to see how they then take that as license to be able to deconstruct all that they see as being wrong with publishing as it currently stands.

    Some of it’s legit, some of it is just grousing from folks who have no idea, God love ‘em. But for more than a few, it’s just the kick in the pants they needed to get going and finish that book.

    If I wasn’t in the middle of launching STARS, I might consider doing it again this year– but I’m not sure I can juggle a Don’t Look Down Draft with promo. I’m just not that talented. But I’ll be here cheering you on and wielding the Thwacking Stick whenever you need it! ;-)

    • Ooooh, Barb, that whacking stick sounds nasty. I’ll be sure to try not to need it :) . Interesting about the message boards, it sounds like you nailed the reasons for what is said. And good luck with your promo for Stars. LOOOOVE that cover.

  8. LaDonna says:

    Hey M, I’ve never joined the NaNo thing, but certainly can see the wisdom of participating. I usually go it alone. But with that said, there are times I need a swift kick in the arse to motativate myself. I’m happily motivated this month, working on a rewrite, and determined to keep the focus. :smile:

    Good luck on your first venture, and keep on keepin’ on, girl!

    • Thanks, LaD. I’m a go it alone girl myself, but I just wanted to give it a try, and at the very least, sounds like I have some new buddys, which is always a good thing!

  9. Edie Ramer says:

    Nano always seems to come at the wrong time for me, and it did this year once again. I do think it’s a great idea, and I know it’s motivated a lot of people in my local chapter. But I have too many other things planned with previously written books and stories.

    I KNOW you’ll make your goal and even surpass it. Good luck to all the Nano participants.

  10. Pingback: Out With The Old… «

  11. C.A. Ferguson says:

    Hi Michelle,

    I’ve been toying with the idea of NaNoWriMo as a ‘dive in the deep end’ venture. I am a total newbie at writing so had visions of it being a worthwhile exercise…if nothing else it might be good craic.

    What do people think? Is it something a total novice can attempt?!? :shock:

    • C.A., I just don’t know because I’m a newbie, too. My feeling is, even if you don’t ‘win’, get that full 50,000, you’ll be further ahead than you were and you’ll have probably made some good writing friends. What’s not to like about that?

  12. To the very unique and snappy “michelled” ~ I know you will do wonderfully well at NaNo! I haven’t done it in a formal way, but a few times I’ve been part of a more casual group where we report our daily and weekly page counts to each other and send each other prizes for meeting certain writing goals. It was fun and, even though I didn’t come close to writing 50k (!!), I did make some significant progress on my wip, and it really helped. :)

    • Marilyn, thank you! And I have been part of a group similar to what you’ve described, but there wasn’t one going at present, and I really needed this. Not that I’ve ever come in at 50,000k, though. Bit nervous about that.

  13. Liz Kreger says:

    Hey Michelle. Never participated in NaNo … mostly because with my schedule there’s no way I can liberate the time required. Perhaps one of these years. Good luck to you, though. I’ll be cheering you on.

    As far as readers having a book in ‘em … hell, I have a book in me all the time. Despite writing several, its still difficult getting it out. It’s like trying to wrangle a herd of cats.

  14. Cynthia Eden says:

    I tried it last year, and I’m definitely going to give NaNo a run this time, too!

  15. I’ve never done Nano, but that’s because I am a writer and unfortunately deadlines have conspired to mean I can’t spend November starting a new draft! But I rather wish I was because I have a lot of friends who are doing it and I think the cameraderie is great. For anyone who’s looking for some buddies to cheer them on while they try a new crazy dream for a month, it’s fantastic. And a lot of professional writers use it too – because no matter how seasoned you are, it’s still so nice to be working at something in the company of others. Next year perhaps?

    • Hi Roz, thanks for stopping by. I’m lucky that I’m deep into my current book and Nano dovetails perfectly with my deadlines this time :) . Maybe I’ll see you there next year?

  16. Carrie Lofty says:

    Can’t say that I’ve ever participated in NaNo, mostly because my editing/writing schedule never lines up with the start date. But I love that it gives everyone the motivation to take their passion seriously for a month. If you cannot make it serious to yourself, how can you expect your friends and family to offer the support you’ll need? A commitment to becoming a writer starts with that initial decision to take it seriously! Good luck to all who participate.

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