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Get What YOU Want from National Novel Writing Month – Part 1

October 25, 2012

So you’re considering participating in National Novel Writing Month this November. You’ve read up on it, and you know that if you decide to participate, you’ll be attempting to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel during the 30 days of November. Maybe you’ve always wanted to be a writer and see NaNoWriMo as your chance to try. Maybe you already write regularly and hope NaNoWriMo will give your writing a boost. Maybe you just think it could be a fun way to try something new.

If you’re like most people, the idea is probably a little daunting.

This November will be my 10th year participating in NaNoWriMo and hopefully my seventh time reaching the 50,000 word goal. I love NaNoWriMo, and over the past nine years it has done me and my writing immeasurable good. You could call me a NaNo-vangelist, encouraging the other writers in my life to join the fun and try it out if they have the time and the energy to commit.

My friend/nemesis Chris Brecheen, on the other hand, has a…less than enthusiastic view of the event, which he laid out in his recent blog post, NaNoWriMo: The Good, The Bad, and The Really, Really Ugly. As you can probably guess, I don’t agree that NaNoWriMo is as detrimental to new writers as he puts forth, but his post is worth reading and considering because he makes some valid criticisms and points out some legitimate pitfalls of the month-long writing marathon. I believe those pitfalls can be avoided, but the best way to avoid a trap is to know that it’s there in the first place.

Success in NaNoWriMo is generally defined as reaching the 50k goal by the end of November. This blog series will not tell you how to do that. It won’t reveal the secret to writing 1,667 words a day. It won’t even claim that reaching 50,000 words equals NaNo success. The key to NaNoWriMo is not in the number of words you put to page, but in two things:

  • Knowing what you’re getting into


  • Knowing what you want to get out of it

Plenty of people can tell you what you’re getting into–and Chris’s post is one place to start–but only you can decide why you’re doing this in the first place. Over the course of nine years, I’ve tackled NaNoWriMo with five different approaches, some that I consider more successful than others. In this blog series, I’ll define those five approaches, describe how they worked (or didn’t work) for me, and discuss how to get the most out of each one.

First up: Something to Prove

6 Comments leave one →
  1. October 25, 2012 9:19 pm

    I think both this post as well as the criticism piece are very good for someone doing NaNo for the first time. I can’t wait for the followups.

    • Anita M. King permalink*
      October 28, 2012 10:47 pm

      Thank you! Part two is up now.

  2. October 27, 2012 9:32 am

    We must kung fu fight!


    • Anita M. King permalink*
      October 28, 2012 10:48 pm

      You wanna take this outside?


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