That Time of Year Again, or NaNoWriMo

I’ve technically done Nanowrimo (or National Novel Writing Month) three times now.  I’ve “won” it twice.  Last year I intended to be a nano rebel and do a short story a day for the month until my brain got hijacked by insomnia.  This year I’m going for a hybrid of sorts.  I’m going to write a 45-55k novel and also aim to complete 11 short stories.  I predict this will be 90-100k words this month.

There are many conflicting opinions about NaNoWriMo.  Some seem to feel that it encourages bad writing, and for people to try to publish bad writing in the after months (I’ve even seen some agent blogs complaining that they get nano novels in December and how annoying that is).  My personal opinion is that NaNo is what you make of it.  If you want to write a crazy book that is full of in-jokes, word and plot prompts, and probably something only your mother will love, go ahead.  I don’t care.  Doesn’t bug me a bit.  Writing is fun, or I wouldn’t be doing it.

If you want to write a novel with the goal for publication? Do that.  Is it possible to write 50,000+ good words in a month? Hell yes.  In fact, many professional writers do it all the time.  It’s simple to do if you carve out the writing time.  Here, I’ll do the math for my own plans:

11 short stories: word count on this will vary.  I’m aiming for between 2500 and 7500 words per story.  A 7500 word story takes me generally 6-9 hours to write (depending on multiple factors like plotting, research, etc).  Most of my stories tend to fall in the 4-5k word range, so we’ll say 55,000 words from shorts.  That’s about 55-60 hours of writing at my usual pace.

Then the novel.  I’m going for 45-55k words, which is a short novel.  But this novel isn’t going to be shopped to traditional publishing.  It’s going to be e-pubbed (after first readers and a professional editor see it, of course. I wouldn’t put a rough draft up for sale, clearly).  My natural length for novels is fairly short, so I think this is a good length and a pace I can keep up for four books a year.  The novel will likely take about 70 hours of work (I’ve done a lot of world-building and pre-planning over the last year, so now what’s left is to write the damn thing).

70+60=130 hours of work in a month.  130/30= 4.3333333 hours a day.  That’s right.  A bit over four hours a day.  When was the last time you worked a four hour day?  Writing is my sole source of employment, so there’s really no reason I can’t put four hours a day into it.  My actual plan is to put six or seven hours a day in on weekdays and whatever I can fit in on weekends.  November is  full of weddings, baptisms, parties, Thanksgiving, etc for me, so I know I won’t be able to find hours every single day.  Hence the over-writing on some days so I can have slack time for when things come up (because when in life don’t things come up, right?).

So that’s my NaNoWriMo plan.  I’m on the nanowrimo.org website under “izanobu” if anyone is doing it and wants to be buddies there (progress bars are fun!).

Good luck to everyone going along on the fun of NaNo!

12 thoughts on “That Time of Year Again, or NaNoWriMo

  1. Good luck with your NaNoing.

    I don’t plan to write a novel just yet (too much I still need to improve with my writing). But I do plan on doing some work with novellas or novelletes and a few short stories. I may not be playing by the official rules, but I think I may dabble with reaching 50K words in a month.

  2. Much like several of DWS’s posts, this one really puts to rest the whole notion of “writing quickly.” It’s not how fast you time, it’s how long you work.

    A few months ago, when I was searching the Internet trying to discover the secret to writing success, I happened upon Brandon Sanderson’s old forum — the one he hung out at before making it big when he was selected to finish THE WHEEL OF TIME.

    There, he would post about his writing progess. It was amazing to see how much he wrote on a regular basis. But what really stunned me — and what really made me understand that I wasn’t putting my best foot forward — was when I read the post in which he announced he finished the first draft of MISTBORN I.

    He wrote from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. No, that’s not a typo. He started at 7 a.m. in the morning and wrote all the way until 3 a.m. the next morning. He does mention breaks, but I suspect there were some. How much did he produce? 125 MS pages! That’s an average of 6.25 pages a hour!

    I have a long way to go.

  3. I think the value of NaNo lies in the ability to break the conception of the “difficulty” of writing. However, it does risk the “novel-as-event” syndrom that Dean Wesley Smith talks about in some post, somewhere…

    And actually, for more-developed-but-not-professional-writers, I think that’s an even bigger challenege. There’s a lot of folk who think the novel is a natural step-up from short fiction, but I’ve been doing novels the past two, three months, and I think it’s… nothing like short fiction. Sure, there are aspects of “good writing” that apply to both, but they’re totally different mediums.

    Which… is another reason to challenge oneself to write a novel this month.

    Like Jeff, I’m already into one, so I’ll just attempt to add as many words as I can in November!

    • Totally, Ben. Novels are nothing like short stories. I learned that when I started trying novels for the first time. I’m always sad when people say they’re “working up” to writing novels. Unless they are doing this by writing longer and longer short stories, I’m not sure exactly how it will help.

      Writing shorts can teach a lot of good things you can carry over to novels. However, so far I’ve found nothing prepares you for novels like actually writing novels. It’s a different game in the end. (Like playing Go vs playing Chess.) (Go here being novels, Chess being short stories).

  4. I started with novels and only started writing short stories so I could enter WOTF (and then found I enjoyed it.) I had finished 2.5 novels by the time I wrote my first short. About half of novelists break in without having written one short story, so one doesn’t have to work up to a novel. Just grab ye ol’ steamshovel and start hauling.

    I personally have no intention of doing Nano. To me, writing is a regular event that I do on a daily/weekly basis. For those that need extra stimulus to write, then Nano is good for them (which is probably not the case for anyone that reads Annie’s blog!) But if you’re only writing one month out of the year,then you’re not going to get very far.

    Cheers.

    Tom

    • The way I see NaNo as a professional is as a challenge month. Taking November, with the holiday and all the distractions, and really pushing to do something out of the norm (a novel plus 11 short stories is a lot for even me).

      For a lot of people, especially folks still stuck in the writing slow=better and rewriting myths, I think the idea of 50k words in a month without the internal editors on can be very freeing.

      But yeah, Tom, I agree. If you only write one month of the year, I doubt you’ll have much of a career. But for a lot of writers out there, a career isn’t something they envision for themselves, for all kinds of reasons :P

  5. I’ll have it done in two months. I’m already 14k words into the story. Which once again I have to say, I love writing this length of novel. I hope it sells so I can write the next one (yes, it’s going to be a trilogy, I can’t think of stories unless they’re in trilogy format I think.) Of course, the novel after that is planned to be around 90k.

    • Meh, if it doesn’t sell, you can still write the next one. I think more and more teens will end up with e-book devices as the prices only drop. Or reading on their phones etc :)

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