Tuesday 18 October 2011

NaNo for the New and the Insane by Lazette Gifford

(source: bagse_boise)

November 1 is inching ever closer.  Plot Bunnies are lining up, preparing for the biggest first day rush of their busy little lives.  Muses are getting pep talks and inner editors are already starting to sulk. 

Meanwhile, people are hunting down lost outline notes and frantically stocking up on snacks they probably shouldn't consider eating, let alone as their only fare for most of a month.  Sales of anything with caffeine are already doubling as people start to hoard the precious stuff. 

And many of us are going mad trying to get our outlines done in time.

I love NaNoWriMo.  

Anyone who has spent time with me knows how much I enjoy the NaNo experience.  I start talking about the next NaNo sometime in January.  By October, it's become an obsession and even my cats are starting to worry about November and if I'll remember to feed them while in my writing frenzy.  I first joined in 2001, and I have won, sometimes rather over-zealously, each year since.  Unless things go very wrong, I should top two million words total (all years added up) with this year's NaNo. 

I'm going to tell you something you might not realize. This is going to sound odd from someone who has written so much in November:  It isn't the word count that is important in NaNo. Sure, you want to try to get 50k, but even that isn't as important as two things you should consider.

First, have fun.

Second, learn something about yourself as a writer.

The first happens when you stop letting NaNo cause you stress. It's not important enough to worry so much over.  NaNoWriMo will not make or break you as a writer, let alone as a person.  NaNo is an experiment and an intellectual marathon.  Not everyone is a marathon runner, even if they jog every day.

The second point is tied into that last bit.  You might be a jogger, not a sprinter.  You might only jog on weekends.  There's nothing wrong with deciding NaNo doesn't work for you.  On the other hand, you might learn that writing a fast first draft is exactly what you need to do.  If you don't experiment and let yourself go, how will you ever know?

A few years ago, I put together NaNo for the New and the Insane, a free little ebook for those joining in the fun, or thinking about doing so.  I put it together because I had written a number of posts and articles related to NaNo and I realized it would be far easier to put everything into one NaNo-related book rather than drag up a half dozen links each time I talked to someone.  So I set about outlining what I thought would be needed to flesh it out and make it really helpful.

The book starts with an Introduction to the Insanity and then goes on to other things: Preparing for Nano; Forums, Blogs, Websites and More: Goals and Keeping Them; Keep Writing to The End; The After Nano Blues; and finally Just For Fun (including Author Versus Character -- the Woodle Pooves story that I wrote for the NaNo boards many years ago.)

The book is filled with little tidbits of stuff that might help some of you.  It's not long.  Give it a try.  It's my NaNo gift to all the other people joining into this exciting, fun marathon.

Right now, we're barely two weeks away from the magical starting line.  As usual, I plan to be up at midnight and begin writing at 12:01 am.  My first few days will be insane with rather large word counts.  This is fun to me.  On three different years I've topped 20k on the first day.  The pure joy of flying through a story -- living it that intensely for a few hours -- is something I wish I could do more often.  However, like most of us, I do have to come back to the real world and get other things done.  Like feed cats.

By the end of November I will likely have two or three new first draft novels.

And I'll be thinking about next year.

Lazette Gifford owns Forward Motion for Writers and publishes the ezine Vision: A Resource for Writers.  She also owns A Conspiracy of Authors, a publishing and marketing co-op which includes several other indie authors.  Her traditionally published works includes Honor Bound, Star Bound and Farstep Station from Yard Dog Press; Between a Rock and a God's Place (Issue #21 of Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine); and the eight volume Dark Staff series from Double Dragon Publishing. Her Indie books include Ada Nish Pura, Kat Among the Pigeons, and Summer Storm. You can also find her at her site, the Joyously Prolific Blog, and twitter


  1. I'm so tempted to do that to my cat now.

  2. Ha! And I think his name is Zaphod. Fave character of mine.

  3. TheSonicCenturion18 October 2011 at 22:57

    I just downloaded this and I look forward to reading it. Hoping it'll help me out as I'm still lacking any real outlining for my very vague NaNo idea.

  4. If you have won every award, and plan to win again, what is the purpose of anyone else joining? Also, if someone puts a story online that they have not copyrighted, is it safe?

  5. I hope it helped! Seriously, mine is still vague also. Insanely close to the start... might as well wing the whole thing, lol. Good luck!

  6. In NaNoWriMo everyone who reaches 50K is a 'winner', so you can have as many as a million winners, really. And there's a way to protect your content while you still update your wordcount on the site. It's all good fun. :)

  7. TheSonicCenturion31 October 2011 at 11:51

    Haha I think alot of us end up winging much of our NaNo novels. I did manage to get a good bit of plotlining(as I have called it lol) done though. So that should help me move along a bit!