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NaNoWriMo! Aye, aye sir!

I think the founder of NaNoWriMo must have been in the Navy. That service more than any other loves to smash parts of words together to form new names. ComNavAirPac. ComSubPac. NavMilPersCom. SeALs.

Okay, but seriously, National Novel Writing Month is almost a plague in the writing world. For the entire month of November it seems to be the only thing people are talking about, myself included. The big question for me is: Why do people do it?

Last year I was in the middle of editing a book and didn’t want to lose momentum. The year before that, I hadn’t started writing yet. Here are my reasons for finally joining the insanity.

  1. To force myself to finish my current WIP. I need 80,000 words. I currently have 30K. NaNo’s 50K requirement is the perfect push.
  2. To get my WIP done before the Golden Heart contest entry date. The full MS doesn’t have to be perfect unless I final, and if by some miracle that actually happened, I still have until March to get it cleaned up.
  3. For the same reason I once ran a half-marathon: To prove to myself that I can do it.
  4. Most important of all, to turn off the infernal, internal editor. (See this post where I rant on the aforementioned infernal voice.)

For another perspective, my friend Holly delineated her own reasons for giving NaNoWriMo a try in beautiful, writerly prose here.

Now I know that some people have issues with something that forces writers to go for quantity over quality. It’s a valid point for sure. But for now, I want to avoid perfection syndrome and get the words out. I have a basic structure and outline to keep me on track (until I change it ;-)). Besides, no book is complete without revisions.

During NaNo, I won’t have time for that. This is a good thing. It’ll keep me from wasting time micro-editing scenes that will probably change once I’m done anyway.

I’m not so interested in the whole community that grows out of NaNo. I’m pretty happy with my solitary writing existence—with the exception of my visits to the water cooler that is Twitter, and this blog, of course—but for those who don’t have access to writing chapters or don’t know any other writers, the organization provides a great way for them to meet others, both online and at rallies and write-ins in their local area.

Clearly many of the participants—even the winners—will never get published. But, that’s not necessarily what it’s about. It’s about pushing yourself to finish something. It’s about finding your pure, uninhibited voice. It’s about releasing your inner storyteller.

Those are my reasons. Whether you're doing it or not, what are yours?

Tell your friends!


  1. Dunx


    This will be my seventh NaNoWriMo. I nearly didn’t do it this year.

    The reason I am is similar to yours, Gwen: I have the second draft of my WIP to complete, and my last effort to write it yielded a mere 17k. I would like to get another 83k on top of that to make it a round 100k for the manuscript, but I doubt that will happen. Whatever does happen, I will have several tens of thousands of words I didn’t have in October.

    But NaNoWriMo got me writing again after a ten year hiatus, and that is something worth celebrating.

    • Reply

      Great reason, Dunx. And anything that can get you writing after taking ten years off is worth continuing. Even if we don’t win, the effort will have a huge payoff, I think.

      Good luck!

    • Reply

      You didn’t push any buttons, Mirella. I’ve been planning to do this post all week. And I appreciate you sharing things like that because you just never know. I loved Holly’s post on it. So eloquent.

      Hope you’re well!

  2. Holly


    Thank you, Gwen and Mirella, for such nice words about my blog post! I think I like quietly knowing that other people are doing it whether or not we actually share the experience together. It’s the same cozy feeling I get at the bookstore when a bunch of us are all absorbed in our books, reading.

    Mirella, I know you have a few novels in you, babygirl! Maybe now is the time to unleash them? 😉

    • Reply

      As usual, Holly, well put. And I agree, Mirella. You don’t have to do NaNo to write a book. You have so many interesting adventures on which to base a story.

  3. Reply

    Ladies, ladies you are making me blush! 🙂
    Let’s admit that I have nothing on you two!!!
    Thank you though!
    (hey, I might get a job, I am so thrilled, will let you know)

  4. Reply

    Last year was my first year doing NaNo. I did it because of how one friend kept talking about it and how well it worked for her. I never thought I’d finish last year, but I did. In the manuscript’s final version, I don’t think I used half of my Nano words, but I absolutely loved the process. For me, finding out more about myself as writer was the best prize and that’s the reason I’m back at it for a 2nd year.

    • Reply

      Thanks for sharing, Alexa. I agree that finding out about yourself as a writer is probably worth more than the finished product. Good luck this year!

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