Friday, September 23, 2011

To NaNoWriMo, or not to NaNoWriMo...

To NaNo, or not to NaNo...

That is the question.

Last year was a big year for me. I decided to really push my writing by signing up to compete in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and going to Dave Farland's Writer's Death Camp. Since the Death Camp started November 6th, I figured that would be the perfect time to start my NaNoWriMo project.

Now, keep in mind that I'd never actually finished a novel before. The one that I came closest to finishing went down in flames when I learned that there was NO chance of selling it. (Lucas Film has this thing that you can't write Star Wars novels unless you're on their approved author list and you can't get on that list unless you've written something they've liked.)

So, I show up at the Death Camp with only an idea of the story I want to write. You know what I forgot?

A lot of plotting and research.

It seems that writers do a LOT of research into the stories they're going to tell. Most of it revolves around character and world building, but I showed up with only the idea of a general plot coupled with a few characters. Fortunately, I managed, with the tolerance of my writing group, to catch up. Seven months later, I'm banging down the last third of the novel I so horrendously began last November.

So, NaNoWriMo is nearing again and I promised myself I wouldn't begin another novel without research. But last night I realized that if I'm going to do NaNoWriMo this year, now is the time to start doing my research. Then again, I also promised myself I wouldn't start a new project until I'm done with the old one.

Either I need an aggressive writing goal or I need sit back and enjoy the journey.


"To do, or not to do, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The lack of sleep and aching hands,
Or to take caffeine against a crushing word count,
And by opposing end them?"


  1. Honestly... I'd finish what you have. Maybe make the end of November the deadline for finishing THIS book. I know from experience--if you put a book down, the chances of going back to it are very, very slim. (AKA "The Raimos" bar in my "finished" works on the blog... yeah, I never went back to it.)

    Finishing a novel is the biggest step you can make toward getting published, and you're close! An author once told me that if you've finished a book, you're ahead of 95% of writers. So get 'er done.

    That, and I personally don't believe in NaNo. I think it good n' fun and all that, but honestly, a daily word count will get you a lot further. ;)

  2. I'd second Charlie on finishing your current project before picking up another one. The first novel I finished was a huge help to me. It proved to me I could finish, for one thing. Even though I've chosen to focus on helping others with their writing, I always know I'm fully capable of writing a book and I could go back to that if I wanted to.

    You can always do a NaNoWriMo-type challenge in December or January to jumpstart a new project.

  3. Last year at Death Camp I was revising my novel AND I did a Nano.

    Not a good idea. I LOVED my Nano story, but didn't do it justice because I blew through 2,000 words per day as fast as I could so I could get to back to finishing the "real" novel.

    I've done Nano for like 6 or 7 years now, but if I'm not at a stopping point on my current project I may push it off a month or two. One year I was on vacation for half of November so I did it in October.

    Yeah, don't get distracted if you're close to the end of what you're working on.

  4. These girls are all fools. Start something else! Honestly, who wants to finish a novel anyway?

    On a more serious note, I say it's good to have more than one project going on at once. If I'm struggling with one, I can move to the other for a few weeks. The danger, of course, is you'll never get back to the first one. This happened to me as you know. I'll probably never finish my Tollard book... which reached 130,000 words. It would seriously take another 20,000 or so to finish. But you know what? Gunlord is so much better that I don't want to go back to that old story!

    Having said that, it all depends on the type of writer you are. If you fear never finishing BoM, don't do it. If you know you'll be able to get back to it, and get a nice start on something else, go for it. As for me, I'm still debating. I doubt I'll have the time for NaNoWriMo.


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