Saturday, October 13, 2012

NaNoWriMo - OMG I'm Going To Do It

Like many of us, I have a novel inside me. In the past it was just an idle dream, so blurry it was like my baby had been smearing her grubby fingers across my glasses.

Then, the other week, the idea crystallised (but I'm not telling you what it is).

November is International Novel Writing Month, so I asked my good friend Amanda Kendle - writer, blogger, mother, and social media expert - to write me a guest post and get me in the mood. 

So, if you are a wannabe novelist as well, will you join us?

November is NaNoWriMo. No, this is not related to Movember (despite the Mo) so I won't be growing a moustache, but it will be even sillier. Ridiculously crazy, in fact. NaNoWriMo (shortened to NaNo by those in the know) stands for National Novel Writing Month. In fact it's really International Novel Writing Month as people across the world take part, but I guess IntNoWriMo doesn't have the same ring to it.

As you might guess, this is a challenge where people go about writing a draft of a novel in just one month. The idea is that you should write at least 50,000 words, which works out at 1,667 words per day. This is probably a little short for most novels but it's a good chunk of it at least. The focus is on quantity rather than quality, since the biggest problem most people have with writing novels is that they never finish them. NaNo encourages you to get all those words out so that you've then got something to work with.

When Shannon asked me to write a guest post about NaNoWriMo, she was under the impression I had completed one of my novel drafts since my son was born. Unfortunately, I'm not that amazing. I've "won" NaNo (their expression for reaching 50,000 words by the end of November) just once, the year before my son came along. I've tried since, but not made it.
But. BUT! This year is going to be different. I've had NaNo on my to do list (with a bunch of question marks) for a few days but I've decided I'm going to do it. My son is two and a half, he sometimes (okay occasionally) sleeps through the night and on a (very) good day he even sleeps until 6am. I only work half-time so I think I can squeeze the time into the day to get my 1,667 words done. However, I am trying to use lots of the lessons I've learned from previous NaNo fails to help me to another win this time. My strategy is:
  • Spend October (oops - well, the rest of October) writing a reasonably detailed outline of the novel I want to write. On my first (and curiously, successful) NaNo attempt, I had no plan at all. I got the 50,000 words done but the incredible amount of rewriting I've had to do on this (including completely restructuring it) is not something I want to do again.
  • Aim to write 2,000 words each day. There will always be off days (sick child, anyone?) so you need a buffer to deal with them - there's nothing worse than trying to catch up thousands of words in a day. (Although I did once write 15,000 words in a day for this very reason. You may correctly assume that they were not very good words.)
  • Be brave enough to meet up with other NaNo writers. There are groups everywhere who meet up to write together. I'm hoping to persuade Shannon here to take part, which will be a good start (don't tell her, though, that someone with three young kids is even more insane than me to try this).
  • Plan a couple of mega-days where I leave the house, head somewhere without the internet, and write for three or four hours.
  • Remind myself constantly that this is just a first draft and nobody needs to read it except me - I can make it more "beautiful" in the next draft.
If you're as crazy as me head over to and sign up. The website is full of great resources, a forum to meet others, and you can log your word count every day (I love watching the graph go up and up!). And happy writing.

Amanda Kendle is a would-be novelist, mother of one and a blogging and social media consultant; she blogs at and will report on her NaNoWriMo attempt at

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