Monday, October 27, 2014

To NaNo or Not to NaNo?

Ah. . .November. It’s a time of change – leaves falling and the air turning cooler, or the warmer weather and new growth of spring, depending on which hemisphere you live in. It’s also time for National Novel Writing Month – NaNoWriMo or NaNo for short. The idea is simple; write a 50,000 word novel between November 1st and November 30th.

When I first entered the writing world, I had no idea what all the talk about NaNo was, but it was pretty clear that it was a love it or hate it kind of thing.

Folks who love it feel that it helps them kick-start their novels, provides an opportunity to connect with other writers (via forums), gives a little push to any who have competitive streaks, helps develop a daily writing habit, and forces you to turn off the inner editor.

Those who hate it cite that it takes longer than one month to really develop a solid writing habit, that the intense pace cannot be sustained long-term if you have any kind of real life, or that it focuses on word count only. I’ve also read that “serious authors” should have nothing to do with it because of the dusty gem/painted turd phenomenon. Basically, they’re pointing to the fact that some people will start their novel but never finish once they get to that magic NaNo 50K (the dusty gem), while others believe that the words they produce during November are perfect and too many unedited stories (painted turds) get self-published in December. (Some people call them “polished turds”, but let’s be honest, someone who thinks the first draft is perfect isn’t even polishing their work.)

It is demanding to finish. You have to average 1,666 words a day to make the 50K mark. There are no prizes, other than a certificate, for winning NaNo (aka reaching the word count goal). But there are sponsors that offer special deals to participants and winners. For example, Createspace will print 2 free paperback copies of the finished book and Scrivener offers a 20% discount to participants and a 50% discount to winners. (See the NaNo sponsor page for all this year’s offers.)

So is it worth it?

For me, I think it comes down to a question of whether the challenge will inspire me or whether the pressure will drive me nuts. Since the biggest thing that slows me down is my inner editor/critic, and this forces me to turn that off, I think it might be worth it. Besides, if I don’t try, I won’t know how well I can do.

What are your thoughts about NaNo? Are you participating this year? Why or why not?




  1. I'm in...very deep...up to my (uhm)... why the hell not!!
    And apparently I am in very good company...
    Lasagne and red wine to boot!!

  2. Yeah! You're making the lasagne, right??