NaNoWrimo and Without a Summer.

I’ve spent the first two days of November in the company of thousands of other writers pounding down words. For a lot of these folks, this is their first attempt to write a novel. Will it be a publishable draft? No. Will it teach a lot about putting your Butt in the Chair and writing? Heck yes.

There are many different reasons for doing National Novel Writing Month. For me, I work better with a deadline.

I also have a soft spot for NaNoWriMo because I wrote the first 50,000 words of Shades of Milk and Honey in the 2006 event. Actually… that’s not quite true. I then cut 20,000 words and wrote forward from there. Remember what I said about not having a publishable draft at the end of the month? That’s not the goal. The goal is to get the story out of your head and on the page so you have something to work with.

I’ve “won” NaNo three times and wrote Glamour in Glass using the same model, though not in November. I basically write the first 2/3 of the novel in a month. Then I stop, reread it to see where I am and adjust my outline as necessary. Then I take about two months to write the remaining 1/3. After that comes the revision phase.

Since it has worked well in the past, I’m also going to write Without a Summer as part of NaNoWriMo. I’m 2.5 chapters and 7550 words into the novel.

How about you? Are you doing NaNo this year? How’s it going?

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16 Responses

  1. Doc Coleman

    This year is my first NaNoWriMo. So far I have been doing well, getting in at least 2000 words a day. And u have already dropped a house on my characters. Although at the rate I have been going I will run out of planned chapters before I hit 50,000 words.


    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      Then you have a completed first draft and just need to go back in and add some more description. When someone enters a room, take a moment to set the scene, both of the room and of the person.

  2. Glshade

    This is my third year doing NANOWRIMO and well two days in I have a grand total of zero words. My planned story and setting just isn’t drawing me and being depressed about failing already is jot helping much. I completed Nano in 2008 on my first try and almost succeeded last year writing exclusively on my I touch. I hope that I’ll get writing tomorrow but well guess I will see.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      If the story isn’t compelling you, don’t try to force it. It doesn’t make sense to write something you don’t want to read. Maybe try seat-of-the-pantsing a new idea and then pause to outline it once you’ve gotten a little way in?

  3. Athena Franco

    It is so inspirational to see established authors supporting and using NaNoWriMo. This is my fourth year participating and I learn something new every time. Best of luck this month!

  4. Dslgion

    This will be my second year doing NaNo. I find this year a lot harder to get going on then last year.  But i feel good reading about someone who made use of it for their professional level writings.  Thanks.

  5. Heather Marie Muir

    This is my fourth NaNo, hopefully my second win. I’m finding this year harder as well, partly because I’m super sick but partly because I care more about this story than last years. I find it hard to write quickly when I care about the story. I’m second guessing myself basically on everything I put in. I hope I can learn to just let the story out and remember to fix it later. Its wonderful to hear your successful use of NaNo Mary. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      I’m sorry to hear that you are sick. That’s no good at all. And of course you will second guess yourself when you are ill. You know the strategy here. Focus on the story and less on the words.

  6. Joshua Kehe

    Also my fourth NaNo, though the first two years were feeble attempts. Last year I finished without much difficulty, and I’ve written more this past year than ever before, so this year’s NaNo should be great. I’m having fun so far, and I’m only 5k into it.

  7. Kristina Solomon

    First time here on your blog, but a longtime Writing Excuses fan.  I’m also doing NaNo (fourth time for me), and I’m verbally stuck tonight, so I was trolling for any and all references to NaNo just to help motivate me.  I like my story and the whole concept, but it’s being borne in upon me that I haven’t done enough research and my inner editor is screaming at me.

    1. Mary Robinette Kowal

      If this helps… I put brackets in the places that I don’t know what is happening. For instance, I have this sentence in Without a Summer: “In addition to the footman downstairs, they had acquired a cook, Mrs. [name]; a scullery maid, Betsy; an [other servant], [name]; and [other servant], [name].”

      Then, at the end of the day, after I have hit my word count goal, I go back and fill in the brackets. Sometimes, I leave them alone until much later, but it allows me to have a dialogue with my inner editor that lets it know that I’m aware of the problem and we’ll fix it in post.

  8. David Pascoe

    First NaNo for me, but I’ve got a great group out here on Oahu, and I’m just over 8k after the Third. I’m very pleased with the pace I’m maintaining. I’m a NaNo rebel, and just continuing my current WIP. I’m at a point where I need to start throwing obstacles in my protagonists’ path. I’m sitting back for a bit and trying to remember what the villain’s already set in motion. I think I’ve just hit the first plot point, so there’s a whole lot of adventure to fit in.