Monday, 27 October 2008


NaNoWriMo is nearly upon us again and if you listen really carefully, you might just hear the sound of wrist-splint manufacturers chuckling with glee.

For the few people out there who don't know, NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month: anyone can sign up and spend November in a frantic, word-churning haze as they attempt to write 50,000 words in just 30 days. No one pretends that NaNoWriMo novels are wonderful (although there must have been some successes, surely?): quantity, not quality is the thing here. And the excitement of writing alongside so many other people determined to succeed.

I think it's a great project. Fun, and quirky, and an almost impossible challenge. I've never been brave enough to try it, mostly because of my RSI: if you're considering taking part yourself, then please make sure you don't do yourself any damage. Double-check the ergonomics of your desk and computer set-up, and remember to take regular breaks from typing. If you don't you'll end up with hands as painful as mine, and it's no fun at all.

You might also want to have a look at No Plot? No Problem! by Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo. It's not going to show you how to write a literary masterpiece: but what it will do is tell you how other people have got through the month without stopping writing, and what techniques they've used to help make sure they get their words down every single day. It's a quick, fun read full of advice designed to get you writing and keep you going, and it's the perfect pre-NaNo read.

You've got until next Saturday. Sign up to the website (don't leave it until the last minute, there's bound to be a rush), buy the book, and stock up on paper, pens and coffee. I wish everyone who decides to have a go the very best of luck: let me know how you get on.


Sandra Patterson said...

No Plot No Problem is one of the most inspiring writing books. Most of us need a push to overcome our inhibitions. I'm currently reworking an old nano kids caper I wrote a couple of years ago - after reading the book (I didn't do it along with everyone else, but managed to get the requisite 50k in a month).
Go on Jane, give it a go! You know you want to...:-)

Jane Smith said...

I like No P No P, but it doesn't go into much detail about writing: instead, it just tries to GET you writing and keep you doing it. Which is, often, all I need!

I'd like to have a go but can't risk typing that much, at such a rate; and I'm in the middle of a big book right now which I don't want to put aside for a more frantic project. Perhaps I'll have my own NaNo after Christmas, and not tell anyone until I've done!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what to think of this thing. Is it anything more than a stunt? Has anyone produced anything from this that was published? What's the point? What's the goal? Seems to me that if I have a novel to write (and I do) that I should do it at the pace it comes, not by forcing it to meet some arbitrary word count each day. Do folks use it to get warmed up for their real writing, or do they consider this their real writing? Does this really help anyone? I'm curious.

Jane Smith said...

Paul, thousands of people take part in NaNo each year now, and I think that there have been several novels published which started off as a NaNo exercise. But I'll bet that they had a whole heap of editing and reworking, and extra stuff added, before they were submitted.

I'd not consider using it as an approach to my "real" writing, but there's a lot to be said for increasing your output using techniques like this. If you've never tried it, and aren't in the middle of something important, then I think it's worth considering.

If you have a look at the NaNo website there's a whole support forum, and all sorts of help there including regional groups, many of which continue writing after NaNo has ended.