NaNoWriMo -- What Is This Crazy Thing Writers Are Going On and On About?

Phyl Campbell By Phyl Campbell, 2nd Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Personal Experiences

If you're a writer, you probably are someone or know someone who has done or is doing NaNoWriMo. But if you don't know what it is, keep reading to find out and learn more...

What is NaNo / NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo (Nah-No-Rye-Moe) is the time where many novelists, writers, and aspiring novelists and writers take the plunge and make a commitment and write 50,000 words towards a novel. It is a great way for those who have never written anything much – but always wanted to – to make a commitment to something on their bucket lists.

What are the challenges?

There are many challenges to writing during NaNoWriMo. People still have the same obligations as before to work, school, kids, and so forth. Yes, for many there is an extra hour tonight for Daylight Saving Time, but as one of the five months with less than 31 days, 50,000 words can seem terribly daunting. Halloween, Trick or Treating, and parties may have caused many to not be able to get their early start November 1st, and Thanksgiving plans with family can also wreak havoc on an already arduous writing schedule. But it can be done.

I won NaNo; You Can, Too

I know it can be done, because I've done it. My first NaNo experience got a late start. And my computer crashed, and, and, and. However, I was able to get started. I turned in 28,000 words. More importantly, I was inspired to keep going. That March, inspired by the goal of a complete novel and the purpose of NaNoWriMo, I hosted an online writing event and invited all my friends to write and help me stay on track. The two events allowed me to complete the first draft of the first novel I published. I'm still someone who writes more when inspired than toward a set daily goal, but the more I wrote, the more often I felt inspired. The more I wrote, the more things by which I was inspired – the more ideas I had and the more ideas I wanted to share.

The next year, 2012, I won when I wrote 50,000 words towards a novel, and was able to publish The Carley Patrol earlier this year. I finished three days early. I also had about 10 days where I didn't write at all. During those ten days, I was just stuck. I had written and published two novels. I didn't have to prove anything to anyone except myself. I was convinced the story was done. I'm not someone to add words just for the sake of adding words (normally I'm too wordy as it is), so I thought I was done. I don't remember when that changed – I think I had one of my BETA readers looking over a section – but I sat straight up in bed day nine or 10 of my funk and knew I needed to include more back story to answer questions that I previously thought didn't matter. The day after my funk, I think I wrote 5,000 words in a session. Which was crazy -- even for me.

A novel is a marathon, not a sprint, and although one does need to start strong and finish strong -- that pace in the middle most often determines whether one finishes. However, unlike a marathon -- where one must get in shape, train, and condition every day, and where significant injuries can set the runner back weeks or months – as long as the writer backs up his or her work, progress is only cumulative. A writer can eat and drink while writing – terrible for the waist, perhaps, but often beneficial to the plot being created. A writer does not need special training to record ideas on paper, and can utilize tools like Spell Check and Google while creating his or her work in progress (WIP). A marathon runner probably wouldn't or shouldn't eat a heavy meal, drink soda, or consult eHow on avoiding cramps during the route. Writers are not under such strict regimens. Writers must write. Everything else, especially keeping with the spirit of NaNoWriMo, is optional.

Why I'll be a REBEL this year, and what that means

This year, the NaNoWriMo organization has many writing frenzy months, which is great for some and annoying to others. While writing is something that writers should do every day, writing nearly 2,000 words every day for a month on the same project can make something that was a fun and exciting challenge feel like drudgery. Doing that many months a year instead of one can alienate a person from his or her friends and family. There are more important things in life -- even for lonely writers. Therefore, I think a person should decide what s/he is going to write and when s/he can write and only do the events that s/he can comfortably commit to.

My writing friends are writing NOW. My FB and e-mail are alive with NaNo-inspired talks and badges and friends that are taking the plunge yet again. So it really is a good, inspiring time to write. Luckily, for me, there is the option of being a NaNo-REBEL.

It is for the most part, exactly like it sounds. A NaNo-REBEL is any writer doing NaNo in a non-traditional way. This may include:

    Writing a collection of short stories
    Writing poetry
    Continuing an existing WIP instead of starting from scratch

Since NaNo is all about encouraging writing and encouraging creativity, the REBELs are not frowned upon. Rebels have their own section of the NaNo forums, can still validate, and can still win. NaNo is honor-system based, and though there are some cheaters, it's all for fun and self-improvement; there is no judge who can be bought off. If a writer validates, the writer wins. If the writer cheats, what does s/he gain? Rebels, on the other hand, are not cheaters. They are writers who make their own individualized rules.

For example, I have five projects in various stages of completion. Two are children's books, two are non-fiction, and one is fiction. If I wanted to write traditional NaNo, I would abandon the first four projects for sure. I also couldn't work on the fifth, because I started it prior to November 1. I have other fiction ideas I could use for traditional NaNo, but I'd rather get five projects that much closer to publication than add a sixth or seventh to my pile of "finish someday." So for the children's books, I am including words I am writing about the books – to potential collaborators, press-release-type items, and other things. If they are ready to be published by December 1, I'll give myself a 10,000-word bonus for each one. The two non-fiction pieces both started out as articles I've written for Wikinut or on my blog. I want to put them together as eBooks, maybe add some more photographs, and maybe create some print versions. I will need more articles and to organize each coherently. If I can get them print-ready by the end of NaNo, I'll give myself another 10,000-word bonus each. The work of fiction is also spread out over several Wikinut articles – maybe a third to a half is already written. Any combination of words and/or finished projects could get me to 50,000.

Join me in the Winner's Circle -- Whether Traditional or Rebel

Any way it happens, I hope to be sitting very pretty about 28 days from now. I'm sure this won't be my last article about the journey this year, so stay tuned. Also, if you are so inclined, I will hope to see you in the winner's circle with me. On the NaNo site, I'm phyln – feel free to add me as a Writing Buddy, to share success or offer encouragement. Happy Writing!


Authors, Challenge, Contest, Motivation, Nano, Nanowrimo, Nanowrimo Competition, Novel, November, Writers, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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moderator Mark Gordon Brown moderated this page.
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author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Nov 2013 (#)

Thanks for moderating -- so weird Sarah and I posted Nano articles within hours of each other, and you moderated both. But weird in a good way -- great minds!

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author avatar MarilynDavisatTIERS
2nd Nov 2013 (#)

Good evening, Phyl. Thanks for the personal update. Always inspiring. ~Marilyn

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
3rd Nov 2013 (#)

Ya, great minds think alike I guess. I would like to do this but I have too many other things going on.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
3rd Nov 2013 (#)

well done my friend...I need to take a page from your book for sure and get me bloody teeth into publishing something...

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Nov 2013 (#)

Yes, Carolina, you should! I should think a book of your poetry and the images would inspire many... Cheers!

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Nov 2013 (#)

Marilyn -- thanks.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
3rd Nov 2013 (#)

Mark -- I totally understand. You do so much for us, and I know you have a life as well! ;)

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author avatar Retired
16th Feb 2014 (#)

You're amazing, Phyl.
Although I've translated
two novels, I never have
the stamina to write my
own novels. Thanks for
sharing this info piece.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
17th Feb 2014 (#)

Thank you, Shasel! I think translating would be much more difficult . You have to think about how someone could misunderstand in two languages!!

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