Saturday, November 20, 2010

Authors Speak Out on NaNoWriMo

I think NaNoWriMo is fabulous-- anything that encourages people to sit down and express themselves creatively is a good thing! Of course, in my experience, it takes waaay longer than a month to write a book, but I think that sometimes we writers just need that initial kick to get us going. So, if declaring November as a special month does it, I say why not?!

Brenda Janowitz

I honestly wish more attention was paid to reading than writing; the truth is there are more books than there are readers these days. While anything that encourages honing our written communication skills is to be commended, I think that every writer participating in NaNoWriMo should be required, the month before, to buy several books and read every day. We need a NaNoReMo more.

Melanie Benjamin

I think Nanowrimo is a terrific idea. Unfortunately, I've never been able to participate because November is such a busy month. I would love to see it moved to January, when the weather is usually cold enough (even in north Florida) that you want to stay inside and the holidays are over. Plus it would make a terrific New Years resolution!

Maria Geraci

I've never formally participated, although you could say that the last several years of my obscenely productive life have played out like one long Nano. A while back, as many know, there was a great furor when Salon's Laura Miller posted a negative and discouraging piece about Nano. I thought her piece was sour and wrongheaded, wholly missing the point of the exercise - to finally get a first draft written and to do so within an encouraging environment - but I chalked it up to dispepsia over the election results of the night before and didn't think that anything she wrote warranted death threats.

Lauren Baratz-Logsted

I love NaNoWriMo because it gets people writing, talking about novels, and commiserating, all things I enjoy in abundance. But I'm afraid I would fail miserably if I tried to write a novel in one month. I might be able to accumulate the pages if I hired a cook to feed my family and an off-duty policeman to supervise homework. But creative ideas come to me at their own pace (think: molasses in January). And since it took five years to write my first novel and will probably take two years to finish my second, I think I'll sit this one out. Instead, I'm getting fired up about: ReWoProMo (Resume Work-in-Progress Month).

Cindy Jones

I'm one of those slow, plodding, anal writers, so people who do nano impress and astound me. And I think of the sense of community is pretty fabulous. Writing can be so isolating that any push toward making it communal is a good thing indeed.

Ellen Meister

I think any event that inspires people to write is a great thing, and the NaNo community can be very supportive, from what I hear. I'm such a slow writer myself, though, that I've never participated. I have to revise quite a bit, even when I'm really taking my time with the first draft... I'm afraid to imagine how much revision a super-fast draft of mine would require, but I know it would be a lot!

Marilyn Brandt

My own first novel began as a failed NaNoWriMo challenge, so I definitely approve. However, I do wish it were a two-month challenge. I think that's much more reasonable and the success rate would be higher if the challenge was to start your novel on November 1st and finish your rough draft by January 1st of the next year.

Ernessa T. Carter

Every month is NaNoWriMo when I’m writing a novel because if I’m laying down a first draft my goal is 2,000 words a day. For me it’s easy to meet goal if I’ve extensively outlined beforehand. I get a thrill out of watching the word count mount, knowing I can accumulate 80,000 words in only 40 days and keeping the momentum up. I love when I finally have that many words because my favorite part of writing is polishing the prose.

Karin Gillespie

What's your thoughts on NanNowriMo? Do you particpate? What's your word count?  Comment and win a copy of Mentor by Tom Grimes, a memoir by a writer who was mentored by Frank Conroy, the director of the prestigious The Iowa Writers Worskhop,

Clickable Links:

An entertaining excerpt about author promotion from Betsy Lerner’s wonderful book “The Forest fof the Trees: An Editor’s Advice for Writers.


A new feature at the GBC AUTHOR SUNDAY. Look for an interview with Jilian Cantor, author of The Transformation of Things.


  1. I think Maria's idea of moving NaNoWriMo to January is a great one.

    And thanks for the link--but do I REALLY have to Tweet? I was hoping to draw the line there.

  2. I hear ya, Cindy. I don't tweet... yet.

  3. NaNoWriMo is an amazing thing for me. It is a chance for me to lock my extremely loud inner editor into a box, and ignore it for a whole month. I can just dive into a new project, headlong, without the fear of how well it is going to look to other writers or readers, much less a publishing company, because it is only a first draft.

    For me, a first draft is the absolute hardest the get out, so NaNoWriMo is a wonderful opportunity for me. This is my third year participating, and this time around, I have already hit the 50k mark, and am not done with the draft yet, so I am still going.

  4. This is my first NaNoWriMo and I've never written this much in my life. I'm up to 58,724 words. I always chickened out but I decided to try it this year. I'm glad I did it.

  5. This is the first year I've participated and I'm having an amazing time. To lose my inner editor (even if I only give him the slip for a month) has been completely liberating. I've also met some lovely new people, which is never a bad thing. If nothing ever becomes of my NaNo project, then I will still have gained an awful lot by taking part - my only regret is that it seems to have a certain stigma attached to it (mainly on Twitter), which is a great shame.

  6. NaNo is my time to get my writing habits back on track. I always slip out of having dedicated writing time over the course of the year(kids like to encroach on any personal time you carve out). It's a time to push myself and experiment with new ideas.

    Winning is always fab too.

  7. This is my first year doing NaNoWriMo and I love it. I'm way behind the curve, but it really has helped with my motivation for getting the big one finished.

  8. It is a self-enforced measure of focus. I feel it is a great idea and a wonderful chance for people to get into writing who haven't before and for those of us who are professional writers, to get geared up into a more productive (words per day) kind of habit.

  9. I think it is a really great way to spur creativity and really get people thinking rather than just go through life without trying something new. For kids, i think that doing this will forever make them like school more and will be more likely to want to read and do well in school.

  10. I think Nanowrimo is a fantastic project. It's a supportive community that encourages participants to dare to take part in something they may have been half-dreaming about for years but never had the courage to attempt. There can never be too many stories out there; being creative is integral to being human and writing fiction is one very important facet of that.

  11. I love the idea of nano, and for the first time writer it's a great way to get your feet wet, but I always end up with crap on a page. For me, slow and steady writes the book.

  12. This is my sixth year doing Nano and I've loved it every time. This year, I will have completed it for the 4th time. Planning before-hand certainly helps but then, my first year, I winged it on a prayer. This year, I hit 50k on the 19th so I was quite chuffed. Having a spreadsheet to keep track of word counts definitely helps and allowed me to hit small goals each day instead of the huge 1667 words ...

    Now got to edit during NaNoEdMo ...

  13. Oh, and my 11 year old daughter participated in the YWP for the first time. She has already completed her 10k target.

  14. Started and bailed after a couple of weeks due to other priorities, but it's not for me. Love the concept, but I can't vomit words onto a page. When I write, I need to be able to make changes along the way -- that slows down the process. Perhaps with time, I will be able to free flow and turn a deaf ear to my internal editor, but not now. I applaud those who can do it and come up with something they are proud of.

  15. I don't understand all these people hating on NaNoWriMo as though writing somehow discourages reading! Are you just... being silly? I mean, obviously, these people are writers and still manage to read? Why would you just assume that a group of people setting out to write for a month don't read? That just seems rude and judgmental to me. Like so many people in my regional NaNoWriMo group, who are all amazing people that have been so very both encouraging and inspiring throughout this whole crazy process, I write BECAUSE I read. The whole reason that I started writing was because I wanted to touch and inspire others in the same way that my favorite stories had. The stories that I read (as well as the music that I listen to and the art that I both see and create) continue to influence and inspire my own writing. So, this notion of NaNoWriMo somehow DETRACTING from reading just seems preposterous to me. Yes, it is generating more writing, but there are already more written words than you could ever possibly read in one lifetime! And just because the Sistine Chapel has been painted, the great symphonies composed, and the most amazing literature written does not mean that you should EVER stop creating beauty through art in this world. We need more beauty, not less.

  16. We have a winner. Ann Stewart gets the copy of Mentor. Thanks for all the great comments!

  17. I'm doing it for the first time this year, and I feel like I'm learning heaps about Just Writing without worrying about whether it's any good. I'll fix it up in future drafts, right now I'm just gonna keep going!

  18. WOw, I won something!! Thanks. I'll email you the addy soon.


  19. I first found out about NaNoWriMo yesterday. I joined, even though there are only 9 days left. I may not be able to make it to 50k, but at least I'll get further than I've ever gotten with my writing. I've started several stories, but I always seem to get sidetracked or lose interest after a few weeks. 9 days seems perfect to me (plus I have extra time because I don't work Wed. Thurs. or Fri!)