Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Do YOU NaNo?

This month's Sisterhood of the Traveling Blog question comes from Laura, who asks:

Do you do NaNoWriMo? Why or why not?

Lydia's answer is here, and Laura's is here. Next week, Deb is up.

As for me:

Um, no. Not really. I think NaNo is awesome ... if you need it to get you going. And if the timing is perfect.

Don't get me wrong. I'm incredibly deadline driven. I think artificial set-ups like NaNo provide external scaffolding when internal motivation is not enough. But for me, and the way I write, it hasn't really worked out. See, if I'm not in the mood to write, I don't. And if I am ...

During August and September, I was working on a project, which I will call SGS. It got interrupted very briefly for me to write a time-sensitive proposal, but then I went back to SGS and planned to have it finished by the end of October.

Except ... I had an idea. It kept scraping and tapping on the inside of my skull whenever I sat down to work on SGS, which was coming to me slower, and slower, and then--I just decided I had to write this new thing and get it out of my head. So, on 10/16, I wrote a synopsis for the shiny new idea, a strange YA steampunk-gothic-retelling-thingy. And on 10/17, I started it, and promised myself (and my agent), that I'd only spend a month on it.

On Saturday, 11/12, the first draft was complete at 76,000 words. It's with beta readers now.

So, this is why I don't NaNo. My ideas come when they come, and I write them with their own timing, and that's how it's worked so far. However, I can honestly say that if the timing is ever right, and if I ever did need that external structure to get a project hammered out in a set amount of time, I would totally do it, because the support and enthusiasm of the NaNo participants is really fun to watch.

How about you--are you in the midst of a NaNo sprint? How's it going? If you're sitting out this year, have you done NaNo in past years? Why not this year?


  1. It IS fun to watch everybody cheering each other on during NaNo -- but it is not for me. I can't imagine writing a novel in a month. (I think my shortest time on record is 4 months for a first draft.) I'm too recursive -- I edit and polish and revise as I go. I get myself stuck and need to work my way out. I need to reflect and maybe edit another work while I mull things over. To write 50,000 words in November (while teaching full time, during report card and parent conference month) would require a full-out never-looking-back sprint and probably result in something not worth all the effort.

  2. Wow, that's awesome to be able to write a book in a month. I've had spurts of incredible days, churning out 14K and 12K respectively, but never to keep up the pace.

    I tried NaNo twice but failed miserably. Thanksgiving is just too stressful to deal with writing a book at the same time. And I'm too anal to just write and let it go, I have to edit and revise as I write.

  3. I don't NaNo because that's not how I work. When I'm inspired, which is unfortunately rare, I can bang out 10,000 words in a day, because I have diarrhea of the fingers/keyboard, and that's just how a story comes to me.

    So I don't need external pressure to get me to write, I just need to be inspired by an idea. If only that would happen more.

  4. You don't need NaNo. I'd love to do it but like I've said, my timing is off. And I go with the timing that my writing needs. I'm a lot like you, letting the project dictate how and when they need to get done.

  5. Bhahaha, Matthew!! Diarrhea of the fingers/keyboard. And all this time I've called mine word vomit!!

    I NaNo. You know I NaNo. You know I know you want to secretly NaNo. I know you know I'm hating NaNo (at the moment).

    Oh, dear. I need sleep.


  6. i'm nano-ing for the first time, and one unexpected bonus of this experience is the perception other people have of my time. my hubby's way more willing to let me go spend writing time when he knows i have this goal of 50k in november. my boss asks about my word counts and doesn't pressure me for as much extra hours of coming in. my kids cheer when i tell them how many words i wrote the night before.

    there is support amongst nano-ers, but i actually find there to be more competition, which is really, really motivating and fun.

    but the support of real life people. that's what nano's helped me with. i guess since it's easily quantitated, it seems more legitimate to them than me spending hours in revisions and having no exact number to tell them how my progress has proceeded.

    not that my hubs isn't supportive, it's just we all know how much time this writing thing takes!

  7. I'm still fiddling with NaNo. It doesn't seem to mesh with my vibe, but I'd still love to get deep enough into it to feel the inspiration I know is there. LOVE that comment from vic about how her family and boss are all more supportive of her writing when she's got this wordcount deadline. I never thought of that aspect, but how great is that?

  8. I also don't do nano. At least there are a few of us that have this philosophy or otherwise November blog posts would be so repetitive no one would read them.

  9. 76k in a month? That's awesome. I think I finished the third novel in my trilogy (it weighs in at 118k) in only about 3 months; but I was unemployed at the time. And highly motivated.

    Otherwise, I write as long and as indepth as I can spare the time for. Like you, sometimes I do get interrupted by a shiny new idea and have to write it out for a while. I have't completed a story (even a short story) in about a year. One of my next years goals is to complete the three I'm currently working on - and get them submitted.

    I'm very good at procrastination :) Which is why I don't participate in NaNo . .


  10. Congrats on completing your first draft!

  11. I considered it, but I wasn't finished with the sequel to my Russian historical novel yet by the first of the month. I finished it at 406,000 words on 5 November and a few days later started the third book in another family saga (contemporary historical fiction), and know I won't finish it by the end of the month. All my non-YA books so far are deliberate sagas, going well up into the 300K range and even the low 400s, so I don't think I'd ever be able to finish an adult novel for NaNo.

    I'm also not a word-counting type of person. I always just noted how many pages my books were, and wrote them according to their plot trajectories, not trying to keep them to a certain word length. If I wrote one of the books in my YA series for NaNo, I might be able to pull it off, though. Those books are much shorter than my adult novels.

  12. I was saving up a story idea for NaNo all summer. I'm at about 30K, and wrapping up the main storyline. It's middle grade, so why I thought a 50K sprint was good for a first draft, IDK.

  13. I did Nano in 2009 and finished in 2 weeks. Now, I focus on quality over quantity.

    Nice post!

    Congrats for finishing your draft so quickly!

  14. It seems like stuff always gets in the way when it's Nano time. I'm still attempting it. I look at it as an even bigger challenge. ;D

  15. I haven't Nano'd yet. But that's just because the timing hasn't ever been right. I'm in reviseMo right now... But maybe one day! Good luck w/your new MS! Very cool~ <3

  16. I've never done NaNo, and I doubt if I ever will. I recoil from being told what to do (even by a virtual concept!). Also, like you, I run with the ideas as they come. I've written two novels thus far, and I enjoyed every minute of it -- particularly because I was answering to no one. I do it for me first, and if it's worth sharing thereafter, then I happily share!

  17. I do not nano. It's just too stressful for me.

  18. I am doing NaNoWriMo this month, and this is the sixth year in a row I've done it (except the other years I did it in July with an unofficial group, but it's the same thing except we get one more day).
    A lot of times, I get bits of ideas, but not really enough to give me motivation to turn them into a story. This past year it seems I've gotten surprisingly few ideas of any kind. I use NaNoWriMo partly to make myself come up with ideas and put them together in a story. Sometimes I'm surprised at how good the ideas are at the end of the month -even if the writing is horrible, it can be rewritten into something better.
    Also partly to practice my self-discapline to work on my stories whether I feel like it or not. It's frustrating how long it takes to get a story ready to show an agent or publisher, but it'll take twice as long if I only work on it when I feel like it. So taking a break from revising to do NaNoWriMo helps.
    When I did it in July 2010, I had two very interesting and inspiring dreams within two weeks before the start of the month (when I had no ideas before having those dreams), and I hit 50K words a week early that year.
    In short (too late for that I know), NaNoWriMo works for me, but I'm sure it isn't for everyone.