Tuesday, November 3, 2009

NaNoWriMo . . . Not so much.

I've checked out the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) website. Lots of authors I totally respect are signed up and typing away furiously. Writers are challenged to complete a 50K novel in one month. It seems like a great way to make a writer push forward. And yet . . .

I'm not a fan.

There seems to be more stick than carrot here. Depending on which sort of motivation you sign up for, your novel can start "unwriting" itself if you fail to meet your quota of words. Doesn't trip my trigger. Even the more gentle version seems a bit naggy to me.

If you visit National Novel Writers Month's website, they freely admit you will be writing a large amount of junk. And I quote:

"Make no mistake: You will be writing a lot of crap. And that's a good thing."

Hmmmm. . . Why is that a good thing?

I'm in favor of getting out of my own way and letting words flow. I regularly set a timer and promise myself that for the next 20 minutes I'll only go forward. But when the timer dings, I go back and clean up my mess. 50,000 words of mess would totally overwhelm me.

I'm all for re-writing. I do it all the time. In small manageable increments.

But Donald Maas, author of WRITING THE BREAK-OUT NOVEL and noted literary agent, says it's better to get things right the first time. My goal when I type THE END is to have a manuscript that, in a pinch, I could send right in. (However, neurotic wretch that I am, I usually try to arrange matters so that I have a few weeks to tweak things before I let my editor have a crack at it.)

Now, I'm not saying I can't pants a novel. I wrote both my novella in A CHRISTMAS BALL and my upcoming STROKE OF GENIUS without bothering to put together a synopsis first. The freedom of flying without a net is wonderfully exciting.

But there's a certain amount of pre-writing I need to do to prime the pump. I need to have a clear picture of my characters and their goals. I know a number of the major plot points. The rough shape of the story is in my head, even if the details are fuzzy. I need to know when and where the story takes place and how the events going on in the world at that time impact my characters' lives. As a historical author, I'm constantly researching as I write.

If I devoted a whole month to quantity of output instead of trying to make the quality of the writing the best I can, I would be wasting my time. I belong to the tortoise school of authorship. Slow and steady wins the race. Regular, sustainable writing is more productive for me than manic outbursts. Even when I was working 40 hours a week at a day job, I had a daily and weekly page count goal (it was 25 a week then which will get you 400 pages in 4 months. 3 completed manuscripts a year. Not bad for a turtle!)

That said, there are as many ways to write a book as there are authors out there doing it. If NaNoWriMo works for you, go for it. I'm happy for you.

It would drive me crazy.

And if you are a tortoise like me, don't let anyone make you feel bad about it. She also writes who does a little everyday.

If you think I'm wrong, please feel free to point out whatever I've missed. For those of you slugging it out in the trenches, do you have a daily page count? Weekly? Do you have a finish date for your current WIP?

PS. Just to show there's no hard feelings, here's a link for a contest especially for NaNo Writers: First Sentence Contest.

39 comments:

Ann Brennan said...

This is kind of a party pooper post. Well written but a little condescending to those of us using NaNo to write our first novel. I have had an idea in my head for almost ten years but never put it on paper. Now, I have and in two days I have written 12000 words. In two days the words that were tumbling around in my head spilled onto paper. There will be rewrites but from everything I have read, including "Writing the Break Out Novel" there are always rewrites. Awfully glad you have a blog and that you wrote this but marketing it to those of us who are working our hearts out right now seems a little like the parent who tells there child they are never going to be a writer.

EmilyBryan said...

Ann, I'm sorry I've offended you. That was not my intent. I'm just trying to understand a writing method that doesn't make sense to my mind. If it's working for you, which is obvious is, that's great. 12,000 words in 2 days is nothing to sneeze at.

What I'm saying is there is more than one way to write a novel. And if there is someone out there who wants to write a novel and the NanoWriMo method terrifies them (as it does me!) they shouldn't feel guilty about not jumping on the bandwagon.

I have difficulty with a montly goal. How much can I write today? That's enough for me to get my head around.

Good luck with your WIP. With your determination, you're not just going to be a writer. You are one.

Freedom Writer said...

Emily, I've found that everyone has their own best method of writing, and for you NaNoWriMo is not your style. I have two historical romances finished that are currently in the revision stage. I do my prep work and then I write my novels out long hand and then type them into the computer. I do a little editing on them as I type, but if I stop writing to polish I would have only a well polished first sentence. I decided to give NaNoWriMo this year to see if I can maintain a writing flow while composing on the computer. For me it is a challenge. The other experiment I am doing with NaNoWriMo is to write a contemporary romance. So yes, NaNoWriMo scares me, but that is precisely why I am participating this year. If the style doesn't suit me then I will go back to the same ole same ole, but for now I'm keeping up the word count.

EmilyBryan said...

Freedom Writer ~ I understand the longhand writing. I used to use it to scribble a paragraph or two before work so when I hit the computer that evening, I wouldn't have to start with a blank screen. I could type in my starter from that morning.

Kudos for trying something new with NaNoWriMo. Still not for me.

Guess the old saying still fits, "To thine own self, be true."

Shannon McKelden said...

Well, I have to say, two days in, I am swiftly becoming a fan of Nano. 1667 words (the amount needed per day to get the 50,000 done in a month) really isn't that much. I've been writing that in about 1-1/2 hours.

Of course, I've had a huge amount of practice writing also, so I think most, if not all, of what I've written in the last two day (7100+ words) will be usable. I can't abide some of the rules...leaving blatant spelling errors or writing drivel stream of consciousness just to get words on the paper.

Also, I didn't pants this book. I have a pretty detailed outline, though I've found myself deviating, at least from the order in which I'm writing it, very quickly...in a good way. I've tightened the pacing, seeing that I don't need to draw things out. That's a good thing!

The biggest benefit I'm seeing? In two days, I have not stopped thinking of my book. I'm in "writer mode" 24/7, which is not the norm for me. Normally I'm more of a fiddler, fiddling around my book, never really sinking into it. last night, I thought I was done for the day, and ended up having a flash of brilliance right before bed and scribbled out another scene on a pad of paper...a scene for something I hadn't known would happen. This is rare for me, an unexpected gift from immersing myself in Nano.

Also, many writers write in a Nano-manner without calling it Nano all the time. Really, 1667 words in a day is not much at all, 6-7 pages, which can be written well and thoughtfully by many writers.

Test yourself one day and just keep track of your word count and see how long and/or difficult 1667 words is. You might find you're a perfect candidate for Nano next year, Emily! :-)

Vicky said...

Hi, Emily,

I enjoyed your post and know many writers who feel as you do. Everyone has a different writing process, one that likely changes over time. Mostly what works for me is to write every night (occasional breaks) to keep the story in my head. I've tried page count goals & they worked OK. But my writing is better when I keep all my focus on the characters & just write. Sometimes (well actually more than I like), I have to scrap material & rewrite, but that's ok. The important message here is that we're all individuals & it's OK to admit NaNo or any other program isn't right for you.

Penelope said...

Emily, I am not a fan of NaNoWriMo for several reasons. (And for the record, I think you brought up some very important points in your blog post, in particular the question of quality vs. quantity). My first issue with this "goal" is that November has been chosen as the month to attain 50,000 words. For anyone with younger kids, November is one of the worst months of the school year. Veteran's Day, Professional Day, Thanksgiving Break, (and of course the unwelcome swine flu epidemic) add up to an impossible task for me since my kids are home so much this month. Second of all, I don't write that fast. What if I only write 20,000 words? or 10,000? or 49,999? Setting a goal of 50,000 words may not be appropriate for many writers, and yet I feel that I am "less" of a writer because I have not achieved this lofty goal. I think all writers who spend time working on their craft this month should feel pride -- even if they are doing research, re-working an outline, or promoting a new release. There is enough competition and hierarchy in this industry already.

C.L. Wilson said...

LOL, Emily. I NEVER thought the "words unwrite themselves" setting on Write or Die would work fo me. NEVER. (And had that been the only writer setting avalable, i never would have downloaded the software) But Kamikaze mode actually DOES suit me (at least in this case). And I never would have known if I hadn't tried.

No one - least of all NaNo organizers - claim you'll have stellar prose by the end. but even Nora gives herself permission to, pardon my french, write "the piece of s**t first draft".

Speaking as someone who, left to her own devices, may struggle to reach 1,000 words a day (I edit/revise scenes until they read wonderfully - then cry weeks or months later when those perfect scenes end up on the chopping block.) I've decided "my way" of doing things wasn't good enough to sustain a long term career in popular fiction. I need to write at least two books a year. Or at least one every 9 months. So, if I get a POS first draft pumped out in a month, then spend 3 or even 6 months editing that POS draft into a novel I can be proud of...I'm ahead of the ball instead of behind it.

That's a carrot, not a stick :) So I'm giving it a try this time, and seeing where it leads me.

On a side note, however, I know where my NaNo story is going, and I know most of the major scenes I need to get me there. It's just a matter of getting the bones of them down on paper instead of spending hours, days and weeks writing and rewriting paragraphs and scenes that "just aren't perfect." I tried it that way this last time, and never made enough forward progress to type "THE END" inside of a year.

Jane L said...

Hey Emily! hehehe You are a riot! I am writing Nano for the first time, OK,So I have to say I can agree with you on a few points.I can see where one could right alot of crap. I also find it so hard to believe some of these numbers people are putting up, I mean seriuosly, I am a writer, I write everyday and still unless I am up until 3am and sleeping 3 hrs and starting all over again, there is no way I could write 7000 words a day! But I planned on writing Nano so ,I prepared for it, I did my character profiles ahead of time, researched as much as I could to get moving and ya, I feel good about it! I comitted to it so I will follow through with it. Would I do it again, most likely not, but I like being part of the craze so to speak and I needed something in my life this month to help me focus and be productive. It is a great topic and yes Emily, everyone has their own style and opinions, that is how we get such wonderful stories! Off to write tata!!

A.R. Cummings said...

I thought NaNo would require a lot of pantsing. I did a chapter synopsis last month to help me know what my story was going to be about. Some of it is already kind of crappy, but I know what I need to do to fix it and like someone else said, writing the minimum amount of words each day doesn't take that long, so I can edit when I need to.

Barbara Wallace said...

I'm not a huge Nanowrimo fan only because I'm afraid of failing at the challenge. Ironic, since I now, having sold, write 50K in a month all the time.

In general, however, I like the idea behind Nanowrimo - get out of your way and write. And I don't mind the concept of writing crap. You can edit crap; you can't edit a blank page. And for many beginning writers, it's that need to make things perfect that trips them up.

The goal for nanowrimo isn't so much to write a great book as to realize you can sit down and churn out words and get to the end. It's the perfect tool for someone who is constantly polishing those first three chapters. In the end, it isn't the wordcount that's important. It's about moving forward on your WIP, it's about killing your internal editor, and it's about teaching writers to get their butt in the chair and "get 'er done" so to speak.

Beth said...

I LOVE the idea of NaNo because it motivates writers and is a wonderful support system. Writing is such a solitary business and it's nice to know that thousands (or tens of thousands) are also hunched over their keyboards at the same time. Very cool.

Also, the rules let you outline first and prepare character bios so you get a feel for your story's direction and your characters before you begin.

Saying all that, I'm not doing NaNo this month simply because I have procrastinated way too long on my edits. I finished my debut novel this summer and haven't yet sent it out. I need to work on my synopsis and query letter. I wish I could pay someone to do it so I could move on. I have so many novel ideas...

Also, I agree with Penelope who said November is a terrible month to hold Nano with Thanksgiving, school vacations, company, buying Christmas presents, etc.

For that reason, some other local writers and I are doing this 50,000-word challenge in January. I think the first month of the new year is the perfect month to start a new novel. (And it gives me two months to get my darn MS into the hands of agents!)

Sandy said...

I'm a tortise, Emily. lol

It would be impossible for me to participate in NaNo because of all the things going on in my life.

If I could ignore everyone and became a hermit, I could do it. lol

Ann, I don't believe Emily's intent was to disparage anyone who is doing NaNo.

EmilyBryan said...

Shannon! Over 1600 words in an hour and a half? I'm stunned! My daily goal (not to say I meet it all the time!) is 10 pages. I don't do word count, but I use Courier New 12 pt. so it's not 2500 words as a rule. And that takes me pretty much all day.

If ever I exceed 10 pages, it's time to alert the media!

Maybe, if I had all my pre-writing done, I'd be ready to tackle NaNoWriMo next year, but I typically don't write weekends now. (Does that make me a bad person?) I'd hate to think my previous work was unwriting itself while I was spending time with the DH.

EmilyBryan said...

Vicky--That's what I'm talking about! Regular, sustainable output. And I'm willing to bet every writer churns out a certain amount of crap (but like my dogs' occasional mishaps, I try to clean it up as soon as I notice it!). Kudos for focusing on your characters. That's always where the story is!

Penelope--I think they set the goal at 50K because it stretches people. But you're right. It may be a disincentive to those whose busy lives wouldn't let them hit that magic number.

At the same time, Norman Mailer said, "Being a real writer means being able to do the work even on a bad day." I repeated that to myself often while I sat at my grandmother's bedside after her stroke writing longhand, while my husband struggled with unemployment a few years ago, while I recovered from cancer surgery last winter. My output slowed to a crawl, but I was still writing.

Some days, any kind of forward progress in your project is cause for jubilation.

Marcella Burnard said...

I do have a soft spot for NaNo. I didn't manage 50k words. I got half that. So, in one respect, I 'lost'...but I also didn't give up. A year and a half later, Berkley bought that book, Enemy Within, which comes out November 2010. I suspect that most of us get hung up by the critical little voices in our heads. Nano gives your permission, heck, it urges you to cage that voice and just put words on paper. Or pixels on a screen. Go fast. Keep it short. Keep it quick. Move on to another scene if you get stuck. Nano teaches the fine art of refusing to let perfectionism or fear stand in the way of a truly rough draft that with just a bit of polishing, may just be your next diamond. That said, I'm not signed up this year. I'm on the last half of drafting the follow up book to Enemy Within. Maybe I should have signed up. There's a lot of fear here with this one.

EmilyBryan said...

CL, my dear friend! You know your adoring fans (count me in that number!) will wait for the next Tairen Soul tale for as long as it takes. Your prose speaks to so many hearts. I hate to see you mess with what's producing something so remarkable.

But I understand the need to be prolific. It's the nature of the biz.

So if you've found a tool that helps you do that, I'm so happy for you. (Bless your heart! I still remember you dictating to your Dragon Naturally Speaking on your way to RT and then holing up in your room to meet a deadline. That's dedication!)

I can't believe you like the "Write or Die" setting. That impresses the heck out of me! I'd just end up typing, "I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die" over and over. Guess it goes to show one writer's carrot is another one's stick!

EmilyBryan said...

Jane--I think you hit on an important point. Writing means making a commitment to tell the story. If you do it in a month, three months or a year, it's the "stick-tuitive-ness" that gets you to THE END. You'll have to let me know how NaNo goes for you.

AR--You're making the process sound sort of reasonable. I just might be persuaded . . .

Barbara--Another BIG issue rears its head. Fear of Failure. That's what keeps lots of us from writing, whether we commit to completing the story in a month or have no end date in sight. I do see the value in turning off the internal editor . . .

But I can't do it for a whole month! She'll be lonely. She'll be bored. She'll be clawing to get out and rip up the drivel I let flow out of me when she was in her cage.

EmilyBryan said...

Marcella--I'm so looking forward to your debut, ENEMY WITHIN!

I can see where just letting yourself go would be liberating. And I do do it. Honestly. For short bursts. Then I back up the truck and fix things.

I wonder if I'm a little compulsive when it comes to my writing. I can't let a mispelling stand.

EmilyBryan said...

Beth--Now a support system is something I heartily approve. It's very comforting to know there are lots of others out there engaging in this cocooned lifestyle.

If NaNo gives writers that kind of boost, I give that part of the program two thumbs up!

Sandy--Tortoises Unite! Every day we get closer to those two most beautiful words--THE END.

No, I most certainly did not mean to disparage anyone taking part in NaNo (lots of my friends are doing it!) I'm from the midwest. We don't do condescending.

Tessa McDermid said...

I'm in NaNo this year and have to say I'm excited about what's happening. I'd always been a fast writer - 100 pages in a day and evening once to get to the end of a rough draft; usual was 15 pages after I came home from teaching - and then ran across my 'nemesis' who let me know in strong terms that 'only slow, steady, edited writing is good.' Turns out, slow, steady is not my style and really slowed me down!!

I need to write in a white, hot flash while the story is clear in my head. I outline, I make character sketches, I draw up calendars for when events happen. I can see entire scenes in my head that have been working themselves out while I'm teaching, driving, doing the dishes, etc. Words waiting to plop down on the page.

I don't edit that first draft. I'll make notes to myself about where I need to find the names of trees or add more description. But for me, getting hung up on the editing truly gets me hung up. I barely like to read the last paragraph I've written when I start the next day. . . instead, I try to leave myself notes about what scene is next.

So, I guess the idea of NaNo and going forward, forgetting that internal editor who says "Stinks! You can't write!" etc. is good. I have a quote from Julia Cameron, the author of The Artist's Way and the Right to Write, on my taped to my monitor: "Ok, Universe. You take care of the quality. I'll take care of the quantity."

NaNo is helping me get the quantity down on paper. So, there's my bit of the rumble :)

Tessa McDermid said...

Oh, and I wanted to add that one thing that I like about NaNo is that you do have daily goals, which are helping you build a regular habit that you could sustain when this is over. Plus, the thought that you've been given permission to write "crap," especially when you're just starting out, can be very freeing. I've found when teaching writing classes that my students - most of them older adults who always wanted to write but were afraid of what people would say - like hearing that everything they write doesn't have to be perfect the first time. People fell off a bike they first time they tried. Making mistakes when learning to write a book shouldn't be any different.

Linda Banche said...

I did NaNo last year. I had an idea for a novel that was just spinning around in my head. I wrote about 18 single spaced pages for an outline before November, then I spent the rest of the month fleshing it out.

I did come to THE END. Is the novel finished? No. I skimped on some areas, some I have to toss, and some I changed my mind and wrote two versions. But I do have an entire story, where last October all I had was an idea.

I'm of the school that says write the whole thing, then rewrite. I've wasted a lot of time rewriting scenes that I then tossed. Better to toss junk than a well-written scene that no longer fits.

Am I doing NaNo this year? No. Now, after spending almost a whole year trying to figure out what kind of promo works (and I still don't know), I'm going to write.

EmilyBryan said...

Tessa--Your output makes my head spin! 100 pages in a day and a night? Yikes.

I once did 16 and thought I was pretty hot stuff. No more.

But your comment sort of reinforces my initial argument. Everyone needs to find what works for them. Telling you to slow down would stifle you. Telling me to speed up would stymie me.

My agent always says, "Anything worth doing is worth doing badly at first." Like walking and talking, no one is born knowing how to write a novel. We all have to figure it out for ourselves.

Guess my internal editor is nicer to me than yours is to you. Mine never says "Stinks!" It's more like, "You can do better than that. Why don't you try . . . " Don't let anyone tell you your writing stinks, not even your internal editor!

Tell you what! Send your IE over to see my IE for some nuturing lessons. If she's nicer, then maybe you feel more like letting her out to play. ;-)

EmilyBryan said...

Linda--Just to play devil's advocate here, can't we say that any scene we write and re-write is never truly wasted? Even if later we toss it (and I don't recommend that. I save deleted scenes for future canabalization!) we learn something with each scene we write--even if it's just how something doesn't work.

This whole debate is starting to sound fairly philosophical--particulars vs universals and all that.

Do we shoot for a unified, if unedited whole, or spit-shined bits and pieces? Either way, until we have an entire manuscript that's been self-edited and polished, we don't have anything to sell.

But how do we get there? Ah! That's the question.

Tessa McDermid said...

Thanks for the offer but I don't have a problem with my internal editor saying something "stinks," because sometimes it does :) That works for me and keeps me pushing forward. Should I make my IE rephrase things? Not at this stage of the game! Been working for me for a while and if he gets too ornery, I just flick him off my shoulder until I'm ready to edit.

I've been reading a book on motivation based on a study that was done over a number of years. The premise, which is supported very well by the author's research, is that we all have our different ways of being motivated and trying to make people fit one particular mold can be damaging and de-motivating. This discussion fits neatly into her suggestions about finding what works for you, not for anyone else. Having a nurturing IE (or any IE) show up when I'm writing my first draft wouldn't work for me. Not the way I'm wired for writing. I plot, plan, and organize - I also spend time letting my idea percolate. Then I write. And I have to say the more I do this, the less I have to revise at the end of each book.

I couldn't keep up a pace of 100 pages in a day and a long night for very long - and I've only done it the one time. A deadline loomed, I had to cut, revise, and add in another generation due to changes in the line - not because I hadn't plotted well enough earlier. I was on a roll, I'm a fast typer, and I knew what I wanted to do for my pages. I had the 'luxury' of writing only, with no other commitments pressing on me. I could 'see' THE END in front of me and saw no reason to slow down.

So I guess I'll have to respectfully agree to disagree about NaNo. No one is required to participate or even understand it. But for a lot of people who have always wondered if they really do have a book inside them, it's the perfect way to say "You can find time to write. For one month, turn off the TV, forget about your favorite loop or blog, and write. You'll be surprised at what you can do." And that could be just the motivation needed to keep writing during the other eleven months.

librarypat said...

I'm not a writer, but I certainly can't imagine signing up for something that would unwrite what I just sweated bullets to get down. I don't think your best work can come under that kind of time pressure. Some times it flows and some times it doesn't.

Toni Lea Andrews said...

Emily, I must respectfully disagree. Strongly. For both personal and general Writing Karma reasons.

Personal:

One of my problems is a tendency to over-edit as I go along. Yes, when I write "The End," I have that novel I could send in. But it took me for FREAKING EVER to write it.

Also, over the years, the number of hours I spend creating new prose vs. the number of hours I spend doing every other thing associated with writing has suffered gradual attrition.

This year, I'm using NaNoWriMo for two things:

One: To force myself to GET THE DAMN BOOK ON THE PAGE. I have a detailed outline (as do many NaNoers), so I'm not pantsing anything. But, for once, I'm making myself just write it and agonize over whether I used that word three times in three paragraphs later.

Two: To re-vamp my daily schedule to include a bigger percentage of actual writing time. I hope I can make it last after November.

Additionally:

I've NaNoed since 1995, and everything I've written during these November free-for-alls has made it into a published work.

Now, for the Writing Karma stuff:

People are always telling me they have a great idea for a book, but never get around to writing it. With NaNo, many of them do. And I'm all for that.

Unity is good. Writeins, where a bunch of people meet at a coffee shop, bookstore or library, and just write like demons, are incredibly motivating.

NaNoWriMo motivates some people. And, from what I've observed, lack of motivation is the most common obstacle that writers struggle with.

Including me. So I ain't messing with that particular writing Karma.

EmilyBryan said...

Tessa--Sounds like you have a great system working for you and I say "Good on you." You're right about each of us having to find our own personal motivation. No one else can write our story but us.

I so agree about turning off the TV. How much more productive we'd all be!

Seeing the end of a manuscript from the beginning is always something I aspire to, but how to get there is often shrouded in mystery. I envy your ability to "see" the story unfolding so quickly and efficiently.

But I guess we all must play nice with the way we have figured out works for us. Perhaps next year (if someone will remind me it's coming in October!) I'll have the necessary pre-writing done to tackle NaNo just to shake things up a bit. But there won't be any Kamikazi mode for me. No one but me gets to erase my writing (except my editor!)

Thanks for coming by and sharing your experience, Tessa!

EmilyBryan said...

Librarypat--Don't get me wrong. I'm all about being a discplined writer. I don't subscribe to the muse myth at all. I write whether I feel like it or not, whether I'll tear it all up tomorrow, or whether I know exactly where the story is heading.

My DH is a private pilot and sometimes when we're on a long trip, we'll hit less than optimal weather. Then we do something he calls "peeking and poking" seeing if there was a way to fly around the weather system without taking us too far off course. Sometimes, we just had to set the bird down.

Sometimes in my writing I peek and poke too, working my way around an unforseen plot obstacle that has just occurred to me and maybe is the best thing that could have happened in my story just then.

It's ok not to know everything that's about to happen. But in writing, it's not ok to set the bird down. I have to keep going whether I feel like it or not. Till I've hit my page goal. Then I can let my subconscious work on the problem till tomorrow.

Kathryneo said...

Emily,

Great post. You've stated exactly why I feel NaNoWriMo is not for me. Like they say in learning a sport, 'control before speed.' I can write 100 pages in a month easily, but then I have to plot, plot, plot. The people I've spoken with who are in NaNo, are those who feel they cannot sit down and get it done in any other way.

EmilyBryan said...

Toni Lea-- everything I've written during these November free-for-alls has made it into a published work.

Is it too late for me to sign up?

Kidding, but you've almost sold me. I second the notion that it's seductively easy to get caught up in eternal self-editing. Pushing the story forward is always the hardest work.

Committing to more writing time each day is laudable! And a month is more than enough time to ingrain it as a new habit. Good goal!

Unity is wonderful. I applaud everyone who's typing away furiously to get their stories out. But somehow, when you quantify the output, when you set out that 50K finish line out there, it becomes more of a competition in my mind. Which probably says more about me than I wish it did.

I'm all about less stress. Life throws enough everyone's way without adding an extra burden.

But some people thrive on it. Are motivated by it. I can't argue with that. We're all wired differently.

And isn't that grand? I always say it's a good thing we don't all like the same things. Otherwise you'd all be after my DH! ;-)

Thanks so much for sharing your experience, Toni. And please pop back by to let me know when your current NaNo project gets a contract! ;)

EmilyBryan said...

Kathryneo-If I've learned anything from this post, it's that everyone is motivated by different things. There is no one "right" way to write a novel. Every writer discovers, through trial and error, the best process for them. And even that's a malleable thing and will likely change from project to project.

And don't let anyone tell you your way is wrong. If you are producing a story that moves you and touches others, you've done something incredibly right.

KatieO said...

I know I'm a day late to leave a comment, but I spent yesterday furiously writing for NaNoWriMo, and never checked in with any blogs!

And that's a good thing. I had so gotten out of the writing habit over the summer break with the kids that when fall came around, I still couldn't sit myself down.

I decided to sign up this year for the first time because I write best with a deadline. And it's working for me.

I totally understand that this idea is not for everyone, but judging from the comments people have left, there are an equal number of reasons for and against a challenge like NaNoWriMo, and either you sign up and give it a shot or you don't. But don't knock the people who chose differently ;-)

CheekyGirl said...

Deciding to poke he rhead into the comments...

I'm doing NaNo for the first time -and this is my first ever attempt at writing a book.

I've had great ideas for years, I've researched and plotted out books, I've attended conferences (where I met the awesome Miss Emily) but a fear of being "BAD" at writing made me hesitate to start.

I tried to tell myself that the first book will be crap and just get it out so I can improve and move on, but that fear of finding out I don't have the gift was too strong.

I have a great online group that finally got me writing small challenges, but nothing on any of my book ideas.

That's when I decided I would try NaNo. I'm doing it to teach me discipline. You know, the ass in the chair, just write kind. And I'm giving myself permission to write crap - becuase that's NaNo's sort of theme.

The online community means I have friends checking on my word counts and sending me inspiration. So far, I've managed to go over hte daily word count each day.

So, for someone who's been dreaming of writing for 15 years and never written more than 500 words before Nov. 1st - I now have almost 6,000 words in three days.

They might not be awesome prose, but they are teaching me to get familiar with the act of writing.

Great post Emily! NaNo isn't for everyone, but it is helping me get over my fear.

EmilyBryan said...

KatieO--It's never too late for a comment! ;-)

And absolutely no knocking if it's working for you! Please come back at the end of the month and let me know how it worked out.

EmilyBryan said...

Cheeky--If NaNoWriMo is what it takes to get you to overcome your fear and take the plunge, more power to you!

My first manuscript richly deserves the obscurity it enjoys. And so does my second. Of course I didn't realize they were bad while I was writing them. I was pouring my heart into every page.

Even though they haven't and will never sell (they're too busy providing a home for dustbunnies under my bed!), I'm glad I put the effort into writing both of them. They were my "training-wheels" novels. I was still getting a handle on the craft and elements of story (still am!)

I like to think of writing as a muscle that gets stronger with exercise. Everyone who writes this month will grow, whether he/she NaNo's or not.

Teddyree said...

That was absolutely fascinating, I knew next to nothing about NaNo so thanks for the enlightenment via your post Em and all the comments. While I'm not a writer nor will I ever be (takes me 3 days to write a book review LOL) I love reading about writers experiences.

EmilyBryan said...

Hi Teddy!

I wondered if this post would make readers' eyes glaze over. I'm glad you enjoyed the peek behind the pages.

Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts. You all made me do some re-thinking. So yesterday, I signed up for NaNo and gave it a shot. (Please see today's blogpost!)

The saga continues . . .