Thursday, October 14, 2010

Write A Novel Month

Susan Berger
November is officially Write a Novel Month
(Thirty days and thirty nights of literary abandon)

In 1999, Chris Baty and a group of friends got together and challenged each other to write a novel of 50,000 words of more in ONE MONTH. Why? Who knows? Crazy!

But seven people completed the challenge. They did it again the next year with more people… This is the eleventh year of the marathon. It has become an international event. In 2009 167,150 people signed up. 32,178 people completed their 50,000 word count. I was one of them.

I first participated in 2004. When I heard about it, my thought was “No way!” The longest piece I had ever written was 16,000 words. Then I went on the Nanowrimo website. I bought Chris Baty’s book. “No Plot No Problem” and I decided to give it a shot. 

It was an amazing experience. What I had given myself was a gift – a deadline. 

I gave myself a daily stint of 2000 words. Often I would look at what I wrote and say, “This is awful!” Then I would say, “Never mind, it is word count. Keep writing.”

I silenced my inner editor and on November 29th 2004, I had a 50,000 word first draft of a YA novel. I made new friends, and had an amazing experience.

The odd thing about the experience was that the 2000 words per day on the novel seemed to fuel my other writing. 

I started Nanowrimo again in 2006. That time, I did not complete the book. But I still go back to it. I am glad I started it. No one (including me) gave me a bad time about not finishing.

On November 3rd 2009, I started Nano with not an idea in my head. But if you show up at the page…I ended up with a novel called Second Chances which I hope to pursue to publication. I was lucky enough to have Kelley Armstrong critique the first 40 pages. I am working on her suggestions.

Nano now sends pep talks from established authors. I was amazed by how many of my favorite authors gave pep talks. I LOVED getting those emails

Have any been published? 

NaNoWriMo books have borne the logos of presses such as Warner Books, Ballantine, and Berkley Books. Published novels include, Sarah Gruen's Flying Changes, Rebecca Agiewich's Breakup Babe, Dave Wilson's The Mote in Andrea's Eye, and Gayle Brandeis's Self Storage. This is a link to the Nanowrimo FAQ on their published stats.
Go ahead! Give yourself an adventure.
Look around the site and see if it appeals to you.

Once you sign up for Nanowrimo, you will want to “customize” your experience. 
  1. Set your region. Mine is Los Angeles. I attended several “write outs” in my area. We met at coffee shops and libraries.
  2. Set your forums: There an active online community for your genre. Check which areas you want hidden or visible. Far down the list are “Genre Lounges” There is a lounge for Young Adult and Youth. There are a lot of lounges you may prefer to keep visible.
There are other things to do on the site, i.e. set up your “Author Information, upload a picture. Watch the Nano video on October plotting. I once thought 50,000 words in a month was impossible. Now I know I can do it.


  1. Great info, Susan!
    I had already decided to give it a go. Now I know how to go about it. I may pester you for more help along the way. :-)

  2. I love NaNoWriMo and this will be my fifth year participating. It's a great literary "kick in the pants" for getting the work done!

    And yes, NaNo projects can and do get published all the time. My past "wins" are either published or under contract.

  3. Thanks Cynthis and J. Rose. See J Rose is published!
    For Local Los Angeles writers, The Nano Kickoff party for the LosAngeles Region will be On Saturday October 30th from 1-4 (it's a drop by event) Drop By!
    [Los Angeles] Kick-Off Party!
    The Cat & Fiddle
    6530 W Sunset Blvd
    Los Angeles, CA 90028-7202
    (323) 468-3800

  4. I've heard of this but never tried it and don't know if I will, but appreciate your sharing the information about it, Sue! I'll check it out and learn more.

  5. I'm going to be doing NaNoWriMo again this year after a long hiatus. I've started my pre-planning and I'm really excited about how things are shaping up.

    Hope to see you in the NaNo forums once the craziness begins!

  6. This will be my first year doing NaNoWriMo. I have a couple of outlines ready, but still need to get my characters ready. Good luck to everyone who is participating this year!


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