NaNoWriMo begins on Tuesday!

28 Oct


Savannah J. Foley


It’s that time of year again! Whip out your notebooks and keyboards, because if you’re participating in National Novel Writing Month then you’re going to attempt to write 50k in November!

Last year a lot of LTWF contributors participated in NaNoWriMo, and we posted our word counts in widgets on the sidebar, and added the usernames of participating readers as well. We’ll be doing the same thing this year once the NaNo website is fully launched and offers up those widgets again.

If you’ve never participated in NaNoWriMo, now is the perfect time to sign up. If this is your first time participating, here’s what you can expect from the experience:

1. It’s intimidating. For some people, writing 50,000 words in a month is a feat on the same level as a divine miracle. That’s why the NaNo site provides you with a daily word count goal, as well as a forum to meet other NaNoers in your region to talk shop or schedule writing meetups. Lots of people ‘win’ at NaNoWriMo, but lots of people don’t hit their goal, too. Either way, you push yourself to write more than ever before, a challenge that can be incredibly fulfilling.

2. The NaNo site will probably crash at first. Multiple times. NaNoWrimo is non-profit, run entirely by user donations. In years past they were notorious for not having enough server space because they couldn’t afford it, and that led to frequent site crashes during the first few days. The good news is that the staff is extremely communicative about what they’re doing to get the site back up. In even better news, users donated more money than ever before last year, so much so that the staff has had ALL YEAR to work on NaNo projects, and we all anticipate this will be the best year ever in terms of site stability.

3. Should you go to meetups? The answer is yes. I love meetups. I’m the type of writer that usually writes at home, but home is also where I eat and sleep and relax, and sometimes ‘writing time’ turns more into ‘everything but writing’ time. Meetups completely solve that problem for me. You meet perfect strangers at a coffee shop or restaurant for the sole purpose of writing. It sounds crazy, but it’s incredibly effective. You’re there for one purpose and one purpose only, and so is everyone else. The motivation to stay on task is powerful (especially if you’re in a place with no internet access)!

4. If you can’t make it to meetups, you can go to virtual meetups! Virtual meetups are great, too. You can do word races with other writers, or even join in on #1k1hour sessions on Twitter.

5. Haters gonna hate. It boggles the mind, but some writers really, really hate NaNoWriMo. I understand their perspective: they feel telling the general public they can write a novel in a month demeans what writers do (I elaborate more on why some writers are filled with vitriol at the mention of NaNoWriMo here), but I disagree. NaNo is not only fun, but it’s useful for writers who are serious about their writing, and it shows non-serious writers and non-writers how hard it actually is to not only write a novel, but write a good novel. And guess what? Non-writers and people not serious about their writing stop writing after November. They go back to their normal lives and serious writers will continue writing all year round. So what’s the harm?

Once NaNo gets into full swing you might start seeing articles around the internet disparaging what you’re doing. Ignore them. And if you’re feeling down, just read this article by Sarah Maas telling you, among other things, “Stop listening to the haters, to the naysayers, and just WRITE.”


So tell us, readers, are you participating? Is this your first time, or are you an old pro? What was your experience like last year?

We’ll talk again when NaNo opens on Tuesday!


18 Responses to “NaNoWriMo begins on Tuesday!”

  1. Nicole Zoltack October 28, 2011 at 9:40 AM #

    I love Nano. I’ve won 6 times, going for my 7th this year. Last year, I wrote 50K of the last book in my trilogy – Champion of Valor.

    • savannahjfoley October 28, 2011 at 9:45 AM #

      Wow, that’s so many years! I only heard about it 2 years ago. Best of luck this year!

  2. Kathryn Leigh October 28, 2011 at 12:03 PM #

    I’m participating for real this year. Last year, I only wrote 7,000 words; it was my first time and I had no clue what I was doing. This year, I’ve plotted and created character webs, and I’ll be damned if I don’t not only beat last year’s word count, but also make it at least half-way to a win!

  3. Ellen October 28, 2011 at 1:09 PM #

    I’m doing it with two stories this year, which most of my friends think is insane. I’d be much happier sticking to one, but if I’m going to participate I really have no other choice but to do two, because one of them is my creative honors thesis and I can’t just shelve that for a month. Still, I also don’t think I could get a full 50k off that honors thesis alone, so I’m going to work on another story as well,

    I’ve done Nano the last two years, although last year’s experience was absolutely horrific. I won, but I haven’t touched the story since and have no intention of looking at it again. The year before that was the first year I’ve done Nano, and I’m currently querying the novel I wrote that year.

    Let’s hope for another end result more like ’09 than ’10 I guess. 🙂

    • savannahjfoley October 28, 2011 at 2:19 PM #

      Go big or go home, amirite? I miiiiiight be doing two projects at once, too, but I haven’t mentally committed to the second one yet.

      I hope your experience is everything you wanted!

  4. Vanessa Shields October 28, 2011 at 2:33 PM #

    I’ve known about NaNoWriMo for years. This year, I’m finally gonna do it. Here’s what I think about it: writing is writing and writers write. Whether it takes a month to finish a novel (or anything!), the point is that we write. We shouldn’t judge each other on ‘how long it takes’ to finish a first draft. It’s the process and the journey that counts…and of course, that exhilarating feeling you get when there’s completion in your writing world. If you need (or like) a deadline to get your writing fire blazing then NaNoWriMo is a wonderful bottle of lighter fluid…of course, it’s still up to you to squeeze the bottle….get the words out. Just write.

    • savannahjfoley October 28, 2011 at 2:34 PM #

      Omg I love that metaphor… From now on I’m going to think about bottles of lighter fluid when I set a sharp deadline. Thank you!

  5. Asia Morela October 28, 2011 at 4:31 PM #

    I’m going to take part in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time.. Tonight’s the Start Party in my city (Montreal), which is already exciting in itself! I’m really curious about how it will go… 50K in a month sounds so contrary to my usual writing rhythm/ability/method, but I’m willing to try this experience for everything you’ve said in your point 5. 😀

    Or, like I said in another discussion: maybe in a month I’ll figure out NaNo doesn’t do it for me, but I’m quite sure I won’t regret trying!

    • savannahjfoley October 29, 2011 at 9:07 PM #

      Yay for start parties! How did it go???

  6. kaye October 28, 2011 at 10:21 PM #

    I’m not doing NaNo this year, although I absolutely love it. I’ve done it (and won) for the past three years, but with so much crazy loads of school work and college apps going on my senior year, I don’t have to sleep, let alone write. I’ll be cheering everyone on though!

    • savannahjfoley October 29, 2011 at 9:07 PM #

      Aww, sorry to hear you have to miss out 😦

  7. Kristy October 30, 2011 at 12:12 PM #

    I am so in this year! I’ve known about NaNoWriMo for several years, but I’ve always been too intimidated to actually try it. I think I entered once before and did maybe 3000 words, or something, and got discouraged. But, the more I’ve written since then, the more comfortable I’ve become. I think it also helps that I’ve sort of found my writing style – including prep and all of that – so, it makes things a little easier in terms of sitting down to actually write. That said, I will have to make use of getting out of the house to do some writing. Like you, I tend to slack at home. :s But, I’m determined to hit this goal and have a complete rough draft by the end of November!

    Just out of curiosity, did the NaNo widgets work with Facebook?

    • savannahjfoley October 31, 2011 at 9:48 AM #

      Sounds like you’ve definitely got the tools you need to actually do it this year!!!

      I’m not sure about the widgets and Facebook, actually… will have to experiment.

  8. Mac_V October 30, 2011 at 7:03 PM #

    So excited for NaNo! Do you think we could set up a livechat for after NaNo is over to talk about what worked writing-wise and how it went for everyone? I think it could be a blast! That is, if you’re up for setting one up after the hectic month of November. 😛

    Great post, Savannah! I’m so excited for this year, especially because my writing group is ALL participating! *squee!* Here’s hoping it goes well for everyone jumping in!


  9. renmbrock October 31, 2011 at 12:36 AM #

    I’m participating for the first time, and I’m a bit nervous. I actually bought a keyboard case for my iPad so I can work on my story during downtime at work. I would use my work’s computers, but our IT department can see what we put on there, and that’s awkward. So, I’ll use my ipad…at least until they tell me I can’t, and hopefully they won’t.

    • savannahjfoley October 31, 2011 at 9:49 AM #

      Sounds like you’re dedicated to the cause! I think those little portable keyboards are so awesome…

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