Friday, 25 October 2013

To NaNo, or not to NaNo: that is the question!

by Annette Gallant

A week from today another NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month) will be starting, and I’m on the fence about whether or not to take part. In an effort to sort it all out, here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons as they pertain to me:

1) The challenge of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words during the month of November, which works out to 1667 words a day. 50,000 words on a shiny, new project. Just thinking about it makes me excited!  While 50K is not enough for a novel, it's more than enough for a decent sized novella.  And since I have a three novella series I've been jonesing to write, this would definitely get me on my way.  PRO!

2) For longer than I care to think about, I’ve been revising my women’s fiction manuscript. Trust me when I say I’m ready to move on. But if I take a month off to write something else, I’ll be going further away from my goal of finishing it. CON!

3) Speaking of said manuscript, the big reason it’s been such a pain to revise is because the first draft was a complete mess. Subplots that had nothing to do with the main plot. Characters that were all over the place. Too many scenes and not enough sequels (thanks, Anne!). The list goes on and on. And why was the rough draft so bad? Because most of it was written during a previous NaNoWriMo. (But oh the fun of writing with abandonment, using nothing more than my plot idea and a vague concept of who my characters were as a guideline!) Definitely a CON.

4) Having learned the painful lesson that no plot is very much a problem for me, I am now a reformed pantser trying to become an uber-plotter. So if I do participate in NaNoWriMo this year, I will make sure to have a solid synopsis, a fully fleshed out beat sheet, and character profiles in hand before I start. Which hopefully will result in a much tighter story at the end. Despite all the extra work involved up front, this falls into the PRO category.    

 5) There is an energy that happens when you take part in NaNoWriMo. Knowing there’s a community of writers all trying to achieve the same goal at the same time spurs me to keep going. Plus, it helps me build the habit of writing every day, which I’m usually struggling to do at this point of the year. PRO!

6) I’m not an overly competitive person, at least not when it comes to writing. But inevitably at some point I tend to become more word count focused than story focused. As I’ve outlined above, this doesn’t bode well for my manuscripts, especially once December 1st rolls around. So a definite CON.

While there are some compelling reasons for why I should participate this year, as I wrote this blog post I kept going back to number 2. I’ve invested a lot of time and energy in my women’s fiction manuscript, and it’s a story I feel strongly about and want to finish soon. So while the idea of writing something new is very appealing to me, the timing is not right. As much as I’d love to participate, on November 1st I’m going to give NaNoWriMo a pass and content myself with cheering on those who do participate.

Will you be participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Have you participated in the past?  

Annette Gallant

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  1. I think I'm going to do it this year... but I might mix it up. I know I can commit to 25K on my existing MS ... I feel confident I could do that .... but I think 50K is too much - it might get too focused on word count rather than some effort at quality. So I might do 25K on the one that matters, and 25K on a new one where I can just have fun ...

    1. Good plan, Nikki! Splitting the word count between two stories makes more sense than going off on a tangent with one just for the sake of it. I wish I were joining you. Maybe next year!

  2. What a dilemma for you Annette.

    I already have too much "NANO drafts" sitting on my computer. I fear I will die and that's what people will find - my "unfinished" books.

  3. Ha! I've thought the same thing, Anne. LOL I have visions of my family saying "That's her story? The one she spent (X number of years) on?" Even more incentive to stay the course and get 'er done soon!

  4. I love a good Pro / Con list. Actually, I love any kind of a list... :)