The Siren Call of NaNoWriMo

With just over two weeks to go until National Novel Writing Month 2012, I’ve already had two people take me aside and suggest this might not be the best idea for me – this year. You see it’s been a tricky sort of year with medical issues hijacking our normal routine, and I’m still trying to get everything at home back on an even keel. Christmas is just around the corner, and for those of us in the Southern Hemisphere spring is really getting its groove on.  Do I really want to tie myself to the computer for the whole month to write a truly awful first draft?

Of course I do.

The NaNo call has been issued. I hear it reverberating around the blogisphere:

‘Come one. Come all. Join us and in just one month you might have a whole new book…’

Too good to be true? Of course it is. But what’s a little bit of pain when you have so much to gain.

Now I know I’m wearing October tinted glasses. It always sounds like so much fun before the event. Like getting ready for a camping trip with your friends; before the mosquitoes, rain and sleeping on the hard ground… But it’s been two years since I won NaNo, and the painful reality has receded (the flashbacks are few and far between). Surely this time will be different? Easier? The words will flow right?

Okay, so I don’t really believe it myself. But there are some great things to be gained by participating in NaNoWriMo, so can it work when you have limited time?

1. Is 50,000 Words Realistic?

Hang on a minute, NaNo is about reaching the 50,000 word count – after all that’s how you win. So why on earth are you lowering the bar before you start? And for that matter isn’t it better to aim for a higher goal and miss, than aim small?

*looks around for NaNo police*

Too true, but if the goal is just going to be too much to handle, I’m likely to fizzle out in the first few days. I know it happened to me last year when I tried to do NaNo a week and half after moving house. After a few days I was so far behind I gave up altogether – and felt terrible. My calendar for November is already heaving, so I’m having to ask myself what is a realistic goal if I’m going to participate?

2. Setting Achieveable Goals.

Rather than focus entirely on word count I’ve been tossing up other goals.  A good goal is one that is both identifiable and measurable. So far I’ve come up with:

  • Write every day during November.
  • Give up television (in the evenings – I can still watch X-Factor with the kids before they go to bed…).
  • Do a half hour writing sprint every day.
  • Set ‘real life’ goals during the day, so time will be free to write in the evenings.

3. Preparation.

There are already so many great how-to-get-ready blog-posts out there I’ll just summarise:

4. A Vague Idea.

It never hurts to have a vague idea of what you want to write. Although in the spirit of NaNo there’s also nothing wrong with turning up and see what arrives on the page. A friend of mine wrote an amazing book during NaNo one year that just ‘arrived‘ sans planning. Of course the idea is to start something new, but it can also be a good opportunity to finish something you’ve already started.

This year I’m toying with either pushing through with Fall of the Kings, or going back to finish Legend – the poorly timed book three of my trilogy I wrote during NaNo 2010. After my recent attack of self-doubt with Fall of the Kings, I’m wondering if Legend might not be a stand-alone novel after all. Certainly I’ve been feeling some of the characters again lately and am itching to pick them up again.

But who knows? There’s still two more weeks to go and there is a very real possibility my loved ones will read this blog and stage an intervention…

So what are your thoughts on NaNoWriMo? Are you participating this year? How do you prepare? Is it worthwhile or not appealing at all? How do you feel about fudging the NaNo criteria?


15 thoughts on “The Siren Call of NaNoWriMo

  1. Are there other commitments you can bow out of for the month of November? I say heed the call – in whatever format or guidelines that work for you. There’s only one way to finish a book…. Write it. I know you can do it! And I think you will be happy that you did.

    1. Thanks for the encouragement – yes I’m going to be doing everything I can to bow out. But even doing that, the children and Bruce have quite a few activities and a weekend away already in the diary. Saying that I’m still going to give it my all, because I’m hoping to make solid progress and hopefully finish one of the books!

  2. I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo. Although I’d love to take part, it’s just not realistic for me to try to write 50k words in a month, when I work 65 hours a week and still want to get some sleep at night 😉 The ROW80 challenge suits me better, since I can write every day without feeling bad about my low word count. Good luck with NaNo if/when you decide to join in! I’ll definitely cheer you on along the way 🙂

    1. I don’t think it’s realistic for me to write 50k either – so I’m not quite sure why NaNo has this draw. It is not lost on me how the siren call is structured. I hope I don’t end up broken on some unforgiving rocks… I think you definitely have to do what suits you, and I am impressed you accomplish so much on your blog and writing with such a long working week!

  3. I’ve decided that NaNoWriMo doesn’t really appeal to me. I sat down to write one day and I have been making progress as a writer ever since (both in quality of product and in speed of writing). I have finished two stories (and proofed and edited and have both for sale now on Amazon where I have sold some of both) and am working on a third. I think that trying to shoehorn myself into the NaNoWriMo mindset would be more likely to do me more harm than good right now, but that’s just me.

    1. NaNo is definitely not for everyone. Even I’m not following the rules this year, but am using it as a bit of a push to get one of the drafts finished. When you have a good writing system going (and given your output – it seems to be working very well for you) I wouldn’t want to mess with that either!

  4. For me, this is year is all about writing everyday. I have a project in mind, but I’ve been editing so much lately, I need to get my groove back. Having the month to rebuild weak muscles will be great. If I hit 50k great, if not, I’ll be okay. NaNo is all about getting the habit of writing ingrained in our routines.

    I’ll still order a shirt this year. 🙂

    1. I agree about the rebuilding weak muscles – it’s been a bit like that for me lately. Hope to see you over there… ooo and will have to check out the shirt. (I am the perfect consumer…).

  5. I will be participating, although, I don’t know how well I’ll do. Whatever I do get done, I’ll be that much further ahead.

    as far as preparing, I’ve not done anything yet, but usually I’m researching, outlining, naming characters, places, etc. but I really should start reviewing my outline. I’ll be writing book 3 in my trilogy so most of the characters and names are already invented. I’m hoping that by finishing book three, I’ll have better idea of how to rework/polish the first book. Since I’ve been discouraged as well on that one, being I’ve made almost every newbie mistake there was to make in that book. ha!

    Wish you well!


    1. Thanks you too. I’ve finally decided to finish Book 3 – Legend of the Kings. So just need to reread before NaNo starts and then get over and start working on my profile. That and updating my playlist… I think Lifehouse are going to be the group of this year’s NaNo. Am starting to get excited!

      Will definitely look you up when I get over there – will be good to cheer each other on!

  6. You’ve probably started already, but I get to start tonight. I love Nano. Especially word wars. I’ve planned more extensively each year. Honesty re:rules is good, but the point really is to get you moving in the right direction, not guarantee a finished product. =0)

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