Monday, 8 August 2011

NaNoWriMo - Dare I try it?!

From the moment I started following writing blogs NaNoWriMo has been there. It has been there, in the background, winking at me and trying to get me to have a go. Trying to tempt me into what must be an intense month of attempting to write 50,000 words. I have read some of the good, the bad and the ugly about the challenge on other people's blogs and now I am trying to decide whether I want to have a go.    I NEED HELP!

A link to the official site is here - but in brief the description on the website is: "National Novel Writing Month is a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing on November 1. The goal is to write a 50,000 word, (approximately 175 page) novel by 11:59:59, November 30."

It is as simple as that. You sit, you write. You don't plan and revise during this month, you simply write. It is about output, about sheer numbers and then after the month you tweak it and edit it and I guess finish it. I know it is not until November but if I want to do it I need to start thinking of the story I want to write now so I can do some preparation.

I have read accounts of people who haven't made it to the finish line, who have found it does not fit in with their life and have found it a stressful experience. But I have also read accounts by people who have really enjoyed the challenge. Posts by people who have been able to throw themselves into it, knock out 50,000+ words and have enjoyed the community of support from other NaNoWriMo participants.

My concerns are;
1) I am doing well as part of the ROW 80 Challenge and getting so much support from that. If I do something so intense will it mess with my ROW 80 success? Will it throw me off course?
2) If I fail to write the 50,000 words will it ruin all the confidence I have been slowly building up? 50,000 words is 1612 words a day. That is a lot. I have not had many days when I have written 1000 words. In fact I think I have only had two so far. But could I push myself? Could I do more?
3) If I start looking towards the next story when my current WIP is in its baby stage will I lose my way? Will I be torn between my WIP and the story I plan for NaNoWriMo?
4) I don't have a burning story idea I am desperate to write so deciding on a concept/planning may take a lot of time. This time may be detrimental to my current WIP.

Now to the reasons I want to have a go;
1) It appeals to me. I like a challenge and I like being accountable to something. I need to be accountable to make me stick to something. ROW 80 has shown me that. By making public goals I have kept them, maybe it would push me to write more in a sitting.
2) I was excited to see the online groups and also last year there was a group of people who met in Exeter near me, so I could maybe go along!
3) It may be a good way for me to come out of the tell people I am interested in being a writer. That way when I possibly become a hermit for a month people will understand and hopefully be supportive.

I am aware that a lot of my questions above I can only answer myself but I would love to hear from anyone who has taken part about how they found the challenge. Did you love or loathe the experience? I don't want to put extra pressure on myself by taking part alongside the next round of ROW 80 but I also don't want to miss an opportunity that may well be amazing!

Do I dare try it?


  1. If it appeals to you, you should totally do it! It's not for me, but hey, if you don't like it (NaNoWriMo), you don't have to finish it. Your WIP is for you to work on it as you please :)

  2. Wanting to participate in NaNo is actually how I ended up with ROW80. NaNo scares the pants off me, but I have wanted to do it two years in a row now! I even signed up once I think but I only tried for about a day. I had no idea what I was doing.

    Their principle is genius - just get the words out and you'll be better for it, you'll have produced something. But as comfortable as I am that the first draft is going to be god awful, I didn't even know where to start. I couldn't throw myself into something like that, devote an entire month of my time with no apparent direction. I wanted it to be fun, and it definitely would not have been if I was wandering, failing, and miserable at the end. What would be the point of that?

    BUT!!! Now that I have studied, broke things down, have coherent ideas, understand how to create structure vs just being able to identify it, I think that it would be awesome!

    I don't know if you've scoured the forums, but there are writing play lists, all night chats, rants, encouragement, desperate pleas for more caffeine lol.

    So all that is to say I'LL DO IT IF YOU DO!! You know I'm up for insane challenges :)

    If you decide to, I think you could just incorporate it into your ROW80 goals for a month. NaNos rules are strict, but really you can tailor it to your needs - the beauty of an internet challenge - the main thing is 50K words in 30 days. ROW80 keeps us on track all year, and NaNo is just craziness that may or may not be fun to try!?!

  3. I have been having the same dilemma! I have tried NaNoWriMo before, like two Novembers ago I think, and it was intimidating. I wasn't ready for it, and it was hard for me to just WRITE and not go back and revise, change things around. Cause if I did, well my word count was gonna get all messed up. So I gave up and never finished.

    But, then I found ROW80 and based on the progress I have been making I might just try this. ROW80 has shown me that I can do it--I can write everyday, even if just for an hour or so. Someways I write substantially more, some only for that hour. But bottom line is, I can do it, and the amount of words I'm getting down has pleasantly surprised me. So if I can do that, I think I might grab the challenge by the horns when November rolls around and hang on tight. Not to mention the fact that in doing the ROW80 challenge I learned so much about the writing process that I think I could at least be modestly successful at it.

    So I say go for it, I mean the pro is--if you finish the challenge you just kicked word count butt and have a WIP to back through and revise. Con--you don't get exactly 50K but you still have a WIP that you can continue to move forward with after the challenge! But, hmmm, maybe that isn't really a con after all....

    I think I just talked myself into this and I might just do it...Mine as well join the insanity right? And knowing of other ROW80 participants doing the NaNoWriMo challenge will definitely help with the motivation factor!

  4. Eeeks. I actually think that I am going to do NaNo this year, and this terrifies me. I have spent the past few years turning up my nose at NaNo, going off about how I doubt that vomiting out a novel in a single month (because I was convinced that writing 50K in that period of time can only produce vomit-quality work) was even useful, blahblahblah.

    And yet here I am, doing CampNaNo, and actually, er, enjoying it. I definitely think that doing ROW80 has helped me build up the endurance and work ethic that I need to be successful at something like NaNo. It's funny - I started Round 2 of ROW80 with a writing goal of 250 words/day. By Round 3 it grew to 500 words, a few weeks later it grew to 750 words/day, and now I'm writing a little over 1000/day. So given where I am writing-wise, and the fact that I've got some ideas about what I want to work on in November, I think maybe, just maybe, I can make this silly challenge work.

    One thing that I've been thinking about doing is pre-plotting my NaNo book in October, so I can have a roadmap of sorts in place. I started the August challenge with a vague sense of where I was going, and I've been taking breaks here and there to reassess my direction and tweak ideas.

    Anyway, if you do decide to do NaNo, we must have lots of chats and stuff. It'll be fun to have other writing buddies involved!

  5. Oh I have so many things to say about this, I don't know where to start - ready for an essay?
    Your concerns:
    1) You're sounding as though you could either do ROW80 or NaNo, why not make NaNo part of ROW80? Goals are flexible so why not 'During November 1666 words a day (sorry, you're a little under there!) the other 50 days X goal?
    2) A lot of people say this - but look at it this way (this is how I talked someone into doing it last year) - if you start and only manage, say worst case, 2 days, then that's 3332 words that you wouldn't have written otherwise, if you manage 3 days, it's nearly 5k. I think the stats are something like 100,000 people take part, 20,000 finish. You're not going to be alone IF you fail.
    3) There's nothing I can help with about this concern - NaNo 2009 I had to stop writing Holiday - and you know where I'm with that now. BUT, I'm still writing it, it's not like it's disappeared totally!
    4) Me neither. Eek!

    I'd totally recommend it. If you fail, you're not going to lose anything, if you succeed, it's like the most amazing thing ever. I'm still loving that I've completed it twice.

    Having said all this, I'm having doubts about whether I'll do it this year. It's way too much to go into here, but I'll blog about my reasons soon.

    Ooh, and don't worry about never having written so many words in a day - when I did it the 2st year, I'd just completed a challenge called NovelPI (also run by Kait Nolan back then). It was 250 words a day in October. In September I was worrying if I'd be able to do that. Ha ha, biggest jump of writing ever! You CAN do it!