NaNoWriMo is nigh!


October to me is the time of wearing several layers of sweaters, celebrating my Dad’s birthday and getting ready for NaNoWriMo.

National Novel Writing Month is a seat-of-the-pants literary challenge taking place every November. Participants aim to write a brand new 50,000 words story in 30 days.

It’s now an international event, with many local chapters, including here in London!

I was introduced to Nano just after I moved to the UK and joined all four of the lovely people I’d met by then were doing it too. As it turned out, peer pressure is a corner stone of Nano (in a good way, I promise). Since then, I’ve been month-noveling furiously every November.

Keeping up the pace all month is difficult (in fact I always fall behind) and can be frustrating, but there are also exhilarating moments when your story behaves itself, everything is coming together nicely and you have enough points on your Costa card to get your sixth coffee of the day for free. Plus they have all the yummy Christmas drinks already in November. And on the less-inspiring days, there’s nothing better to spur you on than the sound of everyone else in the room typing like the wind. Guilt monkeys are also a corner stone of Nanowrimo.


Now of course neither you nor I will produce a masterpiece worth millions this November, but I know that I’ll be writing. I’ll be writing a lot more than I usually do. I’ll be taking risks, exploring silly ideas, taking dares and coming up with the kind of insane things one can only dream up when on a coffee drip. There will be some dreadful crashes, but I can guarantee there will also be some good stuff.

I know this because four years ago the most writing I had ever done were the first pages of one fantasy epic (complete with red-headed elves with apostrophes in every other character’s name) and about three Harry Potter fanfictions. I’ve now written four novels. They’re all very short, mostly unfinished and not that good, but each of them is a bit better than the last and crucially, the writing that I do outside of November is also massively improved.

So whether you’re new to writing or an old hand I think you should give Nanowrimo a shot. The worse thing that can happen is you ending up with a story you won’t reuse, but you’ll still be 50,000 words of practice better off than before.

8 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo is nigh!

  1. La says:

    This is a very good précis of how November usually goes! I’m doing a from-scratch project this year, as opposed to ‘fixing up’ a pre-existing one, and I’m looking forward to it, if I can get myself in gear!

    • It’s an interesting idea in thoery, but I suggest a tweak for those who aren’t ready to commit or who find it hard to keep up steam after that first week.I’d go with the schedule you posted for the first week, or until you run out of steam. After that point, when the steam’s fallen, just do the 1667. After churning out more than 3k in a day, it should feel like a snap, and you’ve already got such a huge head start that there’s not nearly as much pressure as there was before.

      • Hi Katy, what a brilliant idea! What my sttgaery might be, as I’m itching to start writing and finding that October is dragging, is write enough posts to keep the blog updated throughout November in the next few days. That way I have something to focus on, and although I expect I’ll have time to write new posts next month, it’ll be a good back up to have them there just in case. Even though I won’t be using the form, it’s such a great idea that a little nearer the time I’ll blog the link to this post as I’m sure some of the writers I know will find this incredibly useful.Good luck for November!

  2. Jay Versluis says:

    Hi, thanks for giving me a feel for what I can expect – I’m a Nano virgin and have only just found out about it through a post on the Storyist website (which I’ve also only just discovered). It sounds very exciting indeed!

    I’ll be moving countries in November and will have very little routine in my life, perhaps Nano get give me something I can come back to every day.

    • Thanks Jan!Keep moving thgrouh the chaos and don’t give up! But don’t rush thgrouh it too quickly, because there is a gold mine in the chaos.You’re at a great time in your life to take advantage of NaNoWriMo, though I think it’s great for writers of any age. I look forward to reading your books and stories some day!

      • lol, well I have to say I’m very good at it, that’s part of my job! I’m always pep tainlkg (lol) our authors, when I’m not making coffee runs or getting copies! the joys of being the youngest junior editor, I get all the fancy jobs lol.So whenever you feel like you need one just let me know, or I might just start sending you the emails I send my clients lol. Nah! I wouldn’t do that, you get your own special pep talk lol, just have fun, lots and lots of fun!

  3. I’m going to try it for the first time this year, I’m really exitecd. I’m lucky enough to have had an outline set up already so I just need to go over it and I’m ready to go and since I’m wrapping up the last polish before shipping my first novel to the editors and beta readers the timing is just perfect. Especially since the outline is for the sequel.I say start with your sequel, at worst you’ll have to edit the draft to any changes you make in the first one later, but it can’t hurt to already be thinking way ahead. Good luck!

    • I’ve written bits and peiecs of original fic before, and a couple incomplete short stories, but I’ve never done anything with them. That’s one reason I decided to do NaNo this year (under my real name, sort of, not my fanfic author i.d.): it’s become the easy and comfortable thing for me to write fanfic, and that comfort with fanfic has been keeping me from biting the bullet and writing something original. Time to step out of that comfort zone!

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