NANO Anyone?

Posted by Scarlet Pumpernickel | 11:04 PM | , , , , | 17 comments »

It's almost that time again. Are you ready? Can you take it? Have you tried it? Do you even know what NaNo is? November is National Novel Writing Month. NaNo for short. You clear the decks, come up with an idea and write. No excuses, no stopping, no revisions, just write for the entire month. Every day for a month you write. The goal is to complete 50,000 words, a complete first draft of a new novel. NaNo is not for the faint of heart. NaNo tests your staying power. It challenges you commitment. NaNo can become an obsession, a fire in your being that decrees you have to write.

My first experience with NaNo came several years ago and it was, I guess, what jump-started my desire to write.

You see, I'd given up writing several years before. Call it burn-out, disillusionment or life getting in the way. Whatever it was, it crippled my writing career. Like so many of my fellow writers, I came to the craft young, uninhibited and idealistic. I threw myself into the process at the deep end and promptly sank to the bottom of the writing pool. I allowed rejection to rob me of the pleasure of writing. My eager, tender, idealistic self was too thin-skinned for the real world of writing. The writing world passed me by while I sat on the sidelines. Of course, there were other things at play in my life that took away my writing time. The marriages and divorces of each of my children, the birth of my grandchild, earning two college degrees and building a career in education all played a role. But those things could not have stopped me from writing, had I not lost the spark than made we want to write in the first place.

NaNo was the thing that put the spark back into my desire to write. I ran across an article on the internet about it. When I read it I remembered the thrill of putting words on paper, the pleasure of crafting a story, the love of writing. For that month, I pushed all the daily events aside and I wrote. Every day, day in and day out, for the month of November. I didn't worry about getting it right, I wrote. I didn't worry about "the rules," I wrote. When the month ended I was able to type "the end" and print out a completed first draft of a novel. It was nothing short of magic!

The thrill was back, the sparkle was back, the pleasure was back. And the rest, as they say, is history! Scarlet was back!

NaNo anyone?


  1. Mary Marvella // September 24, 2009 at 12:55 AM  

    Wow, Scarlet! You make me want to try that! Sounds intriguing, the way I wrote and loved it before I knew better.

  2. Barbara Monajem // September 24, 2009 at 1:24 AM  

    One thing that's always concerned me about trying something like NaNo is that when I write a story too quickly, I take wrong turns and waste a lot of words (and time). I take some wrong turns even if I write slowly, but not as many, because I'm more conscious of where things are leading, and I allow myself time to sense the problems rather than hurrying to the next scene. Did you encounter this sort of difficulty, Scarlet? Did you start with an outline and follow it, or just write whatever came to you?

  3. Mary Marvella // September 24, 2009 at 1:43 AM  

    Barbara, some folks do an outline of sorts first.

  4. Toni V.S. // September 24, 2009 at 12:17 PM  

    I wish I'd known about NaNo when I was full of vim and vigor and churning out a novel every four weeks. It was fast and furious back then and remarkably, most of those books which have been published haven't had many edits. Says something about my slipping faculties, doesn't it? Thanx for a good article!

  5. Joanne // September 24, 2009 at 3:05 PM  

    I've heard a lot about NaNo. Thanks for the reminder. This might be my year to try it.

  6. Username // September 24, 2009 at 3:52 PM  

    I have heard about NaNo. I think I'll be looking into it like Joanne.

  7. Mona Risk // September 24, 2009 at 3:57 PM  

    How I wish I had the time to participate. I have a chapter one for three books and want so badly to write them. Go for it Scarlet.

  8. Scarlet Pumpernickel // September 24, 2009 at 7:05 PM  

    MM try it, you will like it! It helps to recharge the batteries.

  9. Scarlet Pumpernickel // September 24, 2009 at 7:07 PM  

    Barbara, I started with an idea of what I wanted to write. I had an outline of sorts. It was easy to push forward based on the outline. I also love Candy Havens fast draft program. I seem to do better when someone is holding me accountable.

  10. Mary Ricksen // September 24, 2009 at 7:09 PM  

    I am having a terrible time posting and getting my post to show. Anyways as I said before under Users Name.
    I have heard of it and I have to look into it.

  11. Scarlet Pumpernickel // September 24, 2009 at 7:10 PM  

    I whole heartedly recommend both NaNo and Fast Draft! It is the most productive manner to complete a first draft. You can't fix it until it's on paper! Yes, Tony, I agree that when you get into the zone and write, it comes together much easier than when I struggle for each word.

  12. Catherine Bybee // September 25, 2009 at 12:16 AM  

    I just may have to try this. Hmmm?

  13. Judy // September 25, 2009 at 8:04 AM  

    Hi, Scarlett! Great post! I've never tried NaNo, but then I sort of do that when I write. Not so fast and furiously, but setting goals of words, chapters to write on a weekly basis. I'm pretty disciplined about doing it, too. As far as worries about making mistakes along the way, as long as I keep notes on my characters, I allow myself to be part of the story and let it unfold around me. You can always go back and make changes...

  14. Pamela Varnado // September 25, 2009 at 10:38 AM  

    I can relate to what you're saying. Though I'm having tiny successes, I'm becoming disillusioned with writing. Rejections have wore me down and I'm slowly drowning in self-doubt. Somehow I've got to find that spark again if I hope to accomplish anything.

  15. Mary Marvella // September 25, 2009 at 11:21 AM  

    Pam, you are a talented writer and you must write through this. I've been paddling that same leaking boat! We must keep bailing and keep paddling.

  16. Scarlet Pumpernickel // September 25, 2009 at 9:11 PM  

    Sounds like we need to start our own committee of support for the fuzzies! One for all and all for one! We won't let the little set backs get us down. Here, here! Girls, lets pluck up our courage and press onward! Both Pam and MM are fantastic writers! I consider myself lucky to call them friends!

  17. Mary Marvella // September 25, 2009 at 9:46 PM  

    Now I'm blushing!