NaNoWriMoLogoThis November. I am going to attempt to do National Novel Writing Month (more commonly known as NaNoWriMo). For those of you who have never heard of this, this is a challenge to write a 50,000 word novel during the 30 days of November. Does that sound sufficiently crazy? I have never tried this before, but has been going on now since 1999. Check out their Web site for lots of details.

Some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I’m a technical writer, so it just makes sense to present some FAQs about me, my yet-to-be-written novel, and NaNoWriMo.

Have I written a novel before?


Have I at least written fiction before?

Yes, although not for a very long time. I wrote some short stories in college, but not much afterward.

Why am I doing this?

I’ve always wanted to write a novel, but I’ve never been able to have the discipline to sit down and do it. Furthermore, in my past attempts at noveling, there is this “Inner Editor” that starts yelling at me the moment I start. It usually says extremely rude things like “this really sucks, you should just stop now!”

The whole point behind NaNoWriMo is to shut that off, give yourself permission to write crap, and just churn out words. If you write a bunch of crap, well, that’s better than just sitting around writing nothing because you’re so worried about writing crap that you’re completely paralyzed.

I have no idea if this churn-out-the-words approach will work for me, but I think it is worth a try.

The other idea behind NaNoWriMo is that giving you a deadline can help you set aside all the excuses and just write. I’m good with deadlines; I work within deadlines all the time in my professional life, so I’m thinking this extra motivation will help me get moving.

Why right now?

Because I’m 40 years old and I’ve wanted to write a novel since sometime around age 10.

I can come up with a million reasons why now is not a good time. I’ve been doing that forever. Writing a novel was always a “well, someday I’ll get around to that” kind of thing.

And I don’t want it to be a “someday I’ll get around to that” kind of thing anymore.

How will I find the time for this?

Good question. I’m not positive on that point yet. 50,000 words divided by 30 days comes to about 1666 words a day. I’m hoping that I will be able to average more words on some days to make up for bad days. 2000-2500 words a day would be a good goal.

I’m thinking this might cut into my TV and reading time.

How have I prepared?

So far I’ve done a little brainstorming and thinking about what my novel will be about. I also read part of No Plot, No Problem, which was written by Chris Baty, one of the people who originally came up with NaNoWriMo.

What is my novel about?

Right now, I have a very vague plan in mind. I have a character, but I don’t know her name. She has a particular special “ability” (for lack of a better word). This has caused her a great deal of trouble in her life and she is trying to find a way to change or get rid of this ability.

I know a little bit more than that, but that’s all I want to say so far.

Do I have a plot in mind? Have I created an outline?

I have only a vague sense of the plot. I’ve thought of a few events that I think will need to take place at some point in the story. I’m hoping that the pressure of a deadline and the need to write 50,000 words in 30 days will help me materialize a plot out of nothing.

Will I post excerpts as I’m working on it?

Probably not. I think that would probably turn that Inner Editor back on, because I’d want to revise a bit to make it “presentable” first. I don’t think I’ll really have time for revisions if I’m going to finish in time.

But who knows. If a section comes out absolutely brilliant, maybe I will post it. You never know.

Will I at least post about my progress?

Yes! At least, I’m planning on it so far. At the very least I’ll probably post my word count as I progress through the week.

Has anyone ever written anything decent as part of NaNoWriMo?

Yes! There is a long list of published novels that were written as part as NaNoWriMo.

I personally haven’t read any of these so I have no idea if they are any good or not. But I have heard good things about Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (didn’t they make a movie of that one?). Also, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is currently on the New York Times bestseller list.

Do I have high hopes for doing something great?

Not really. I just want to finish. I’m trying to regard it as novel-writing practice. If I end up with a manuscript I can revise into something worthwhile, that’s great. If it ends up as utter dreck, well, it was just practice and hopefully I had fun along the way, so its all good.

If I start imagining that this is going to turn into a bestseller, I have a bad feeling that the Inner Editor will show up again and I’ll stress out about whether or not I’m writing anything worthwhile. So I’m just not going to go there.

Is this really a good idea?

Honestly, I have no idea. But I’m really hoping that it will be fun!