Nanowrimo – or a little bit of insanity in November

Many years ago (I have lost track now), I discovered Nanowrimo – a crazy, wonderful event which challenges writers to write a complete novel (50,000 words) over the course of the 30 days in November. I participated in several Nanowrimos, completing four of them. Those drafts of novels remain collecting dust in my files because, quite honestly, I have no idea how to even begin the editing process. BUT, I learned something about writing by joining thousands of people in this venture:

  1. Writing straight through a first draft without the editor screaming on your shoulder is a very freeing way to write.
  2. Being involved with a group of people all working toward the same goal is incredibly satisfying and motivating.
  3. A first draft is just that – it is not a completed novel (not even close).
  4. I do have a novel (or two or three or four) inside of me.

I haven’t participated in Nanowrimo for at least five years (maybe longer). I got involved in reviewing books and pretty much stopped writing fiction to focus on non-fiction writing. But, that does not mean that the voices in my head have ceased. Lately, I have been haunted by two characters. They really want their story told. And so, I have decided to take the leap of faith required to join Nanowrimo this year. I have decided to feed my creative self a little bit. I’ve missed writing fiction – it used to be a daily exercise for me. I have no idea if I will actually manage to write 50,000 words in 30 days, but I am going to try. My fingers are itching to write. My characters are speaking to me. The plot, although tenuous, is there.

Please don’t ask me what my novel will be about – I have never, ever, ever been able to articulate a work of fiction before I write it. I usually know the characters very well, and I let them tell the story – and sometimes it turns out very differently than I had thought when I began. If I manage to write anything worth sharing, I promise, I’ll give you a glimpse. In the meantime, I will mostly share with you the process.

What this means for my blog in November:

  • I will still be reading and reviewing books, but maybe at a slower pace.
  • I will be giving you periodic updates on my Nanowrimo experience.
  • I will not be accepting review books in November (and if any come in, they most likely will not get read and reviewed until 2012).
  • I will most likely be slow about responding to comments and commenting on other people’s blogs.

What about you? Have you ever participated in this insanity? If so, what have you learned (if anything) about writing? I

If you are participating this year, please let me know! My user name on the site is (of course) Caribousmom. It looks like they are still working on setting up the Writing Buddies page, but I hope to connect with other writers so we can cheer each other on.

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  1. How exciting! I hope it’s a very successful month for you. I’ve never attempted it, but it’s in the back of my mind one day. I think I have at least one novel in me too, but it’s not trying very hard to get out yet. It’s there enough that I think about it abstractly as I read other novels, but I trust I’ll know when it’s right to start. Good luck!

    • Laura on October 20, 2011 at 15:00

    Good for you, Wendy! Believe it or not, it was through you I first learned of NaNoWriMo, I think you had a link or something on your blog when I first visited. I’ve never done it, but it’s a very intriguing concept. I’m looking forward to following your progress!

  2. I’m cheering you on! I also decided to “play” this year as well. Not sure how it’s all going to turn out but I was thinking last week about how I might want to just throw my hat into the ring this time around.

  3. Good luck. I look forward to your updates.

  4. It’s been a long time think I’ve heard anyone mention Nanowrimo. I remember when a lot of bloggers were involved in this, but that had to be 4 or 5 years ago. I wish you luck, although you don’t really need any. I’ve always admired your writing and think you will do great. Have fun!

    • Kailana on October 21, 2011 at 04:15

    Have fun!

  5. This, Wendy, is what you should be doing with your incredible talents. I am eager for your updates.


    • zibilee on October 21, 2011 at 06:20

    I have always been really curious about this project and haven’t yet fully explored it, so it will be interesting to read your continuing posts on the experience. One day I might join you!

  6. I’m signed up but not sure if I will actually manage to pull it off or not. I will look you up to be writing buddies – I’m Twiga92.

    • Wendy on October 21, 2011 at 16:05

    Carrie: I think anyone who has thought about writing a novel should tackle Nanowrimo at some point – it is a very freeing experience! And it is totally fun too 🙂 Thanks for the good luck wishes.

    Laura: I have really missed doing this the last few years…and I expect to enjoy it. I’ll keep you posted 🙂

    Natalie: What is your username? I’ll keep you in mind as a “buddy” once they get that page set up. Good luck!!!

    Kathleen: Thank you!

    Les: Thanks for your faith in my writing!

    Kailana: Thanks!

    Beth: Coming from you that means a whole lot to me! Thank you for your kind words and unwavering support 🙂

    Heather: Oh, I hope you do!!

    Debi: Great! I just checked and they still haven’t got the buddy page up yet…but I’ll look for you when they do.

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