One Week Until NaNoWriMo

October 24, 2010

While I mostly associate the end of October with ghosts, pumpkins, and assorted ghoulies, over the past few years I’ve formed another association. The end of October also means that NaNoWriMo is just around the corner. Even though you can’t actually start setting the story down until 12:00 a.m. on November 1st, I know plenty of people who use this time to develop character sketches, plot outlines, and so forth.

I’ll confess right now that I’ve never done NaNo. Not that I’ve never “won” it, but that I’ve never entered. I think it’s a great idea; it gets a lot of people who have thought about writing off the couch and in front of their computers/notebooks. From what I hear, the community and camaraderie is pretty special. And then of course, there’s the being-absolutely-wired-on-caffeine-and-adrenaline aspect of it (now that I do have some direct experience with). 

So why don’t I do it?

I think that answer lies simply in the rhythms and seasons of my own mind. Since I began to take writing seriously and do it consistently, I’ve noticed a pattern emerge. Plots, characters, and themes (all the pre-writing) tend to materialize throughout the spring. The bulk of my writing over the summer, edit during autumn. Winters seems to be a “fallow” season, when I read more, and rest amid all the frenzy of the holidays. That means that in November, I’ve usually already got a project that I’m working with. Sure enough, this year, it’s W.

Of course, that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. I can probably trace it to the fact that I planned my first “novel” in the spring and wrote it in summer, and have been in the same cycle ever since. And while more flexibility may be a good thing, it seems to work for me.

Then there’s the question of short fiction. I’ve never been much of a short story writer, have always preferred novellas and novels, but I’ve been itching to try my hand at some (not entirely sure where to start, but that’s a post for another day). I wonder if writing a few short stories that add up to 50,000 words would count?

Actually, that’s not a bad idea. Perhaps I will try that. Hmm, see what thinking “out loud” will do? I was about to end this with something along the lines of, “But NaNo’s really cool, and I’ll be supporting everyone doing it,” and I may have stumbled upon a way to jumpstart some short fiction.

Funny how that works.

So, if you are doing NaNoWriMo, best of luck. Do we have any previous entrants among us? Any tips you’d like to share? We’ll see about the short stories thing, but in any case, I’ll be here, cheering you all on.

Go! Whoot! Go!




  1. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo either, but have signed myself up to do it this year. We’ll see how it goes.Never having done it before, I;m just going to write like mad and hope for the best! Even if most of what I write ends up being dribble, and not read by anyone other than myself. I think that writing the 5 stories is definetley a good idea – a challenge is always a good incentive to begin. Good luck to you, and happy NaNoWriMo – am sure you will do brilliantly 🙂

  2. I did it last year . . . halfway through the month, my mom had a stroke which derailed my writing.

    I made it to 47,000 and count that as a “win.”

    But I’m not going to do NaNoWriMo again . . . because the story I wrote last November is sitting still at 47,000.

    I think the idea of challenging yourself with short stories is wonderful. I think they have a national short story challenge (like NaNoWriMo) in April or May.

    Someone else came up with a Picture book challenge (1 idea for a book each day for 30 days): http://writeupmylife.com/2010/10/19/piboidmo-im-in/

    Write on!

    • That definitely count as a win. Definitely.

      And I really like the picture book challenge… will look into that more closely.

  3. I haven’t done it, but admire the concept. November is certainly prime time for writing, for a lot of reasons.

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