Why NaNoWriMo Is Good For You

Why NaNoWriMo Is Good For You (And Me)

Last year’s spoils

National Novel Writing Month – or NaNoWriMo for short – is a time of year when upwards of 300,000 people across the globe attempt to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days, over the calendar month of November.
Like all the best love stories, it’s an insane idea, simultaneously riddled with genius.
Why’s that, I hear you not asking at all?
Well, because for people who have never written a full novel before, it makes a seemingly impossible goal possible, because it only asks you to commit for 30 days. And at the end of it, you just might wind up with your first, real, incontrovertible novel. Which is a major achievement.
For people who have either written novels before, or have attempted to and failed, it’s even better. Because it creates a parallel universe where, for 30 days, you are forced to step out of your comfort zone and change the way you write.

Which for an awful lot of us, is a good thing.

Diary Of A Writer (When It’s Not NaNoWriMo)

Day 1: A good start! Glad I took the week off work. Helps to get as much down as possible before all the new story momentum is lost. Chapter 1 of The Blood Count of Pudding Country is some of my best work ever. Love my 2 main characters, Count Van Carbunkle and Veronda McWuggin. Introducing McWuggin at a Sausage Festival deftly gets across both her child-like delight of finger-food, and her thirst for blood, I think.

Day 7: Not bad to have 5 chapters done already, considering that I broke off on Day 4 to watch 3 box sets on Netflix.

Day 15: Relieved. Finally worked out that the reason Count Van Carbunkle fails to trap Veronda in the meat blender is because of the bad experience he had with sausage and parsnip purée as a boy. Phew! Could have had a gaping plot hole there.

Day 41: Had to completely rewrite the first 10,000 words to move the action from Ireland to the UK.

Day 73: Haven’t touched the novel since the day I realised that Count Van Carbunkle should have been a woman.

Day 185: Right. Have now completely re-written the first 30,000 words with the Countess Van Carbunkle; made it a romantic comedy instead of a crime thriller; and changed location from Dorset to Siberia. It feels a lot better, but still a bit worried about Veronda McWuggins’ double limp. May still need to rewrite her as a champion show-jumper. Anyhoo, have to keep the momentum going now.

Day 305: Completely rewrote the first 30,000 words again.

Day 310:  This book is shit. Everything is shit.

Day 437: A good start! Glad I took the week off work. Helps to get as much down as possible before the new story momentum is lost. Chapter 1 of Potato Blight Killers And The Time Travelling Milkmaid is some of my best work ever.


Why NaNoWriMo Is Good For You

Diary Of A Writer (When It Is NaNoWriMo)

Day 1: Why am I doing this? This is the most idiotic idea I’ve ever had. Whatever I write will be shit. Can’t believe I signed up for this.

Day 2: Relieved that one half of one paragraph in Chapter 2 of Untitled might not actually be shit. Given the circumstances, not a bad achievement really.

Day 5: Where in the name of Blog did that character come out of? Never even dreamed of a martial-arts knitting expert before they landed on the page. Having said that, am quite taken with her, so will keep her.

Day 6: I’m dumping my original main character for being stupid and annoying. Martial arts knitters are the way forward.

Day 15:  You expect me to update a stupid diary? I haven’t got time for this, feck off

Day 19: That scene was bloody good fun to write

Day 27: Ok, so that was hard. Major fail, not writing for 3 days. Had to do 5,000 words today, which was horrible. Violently hate some of what I’ve written. But at least I’m back on track.

Day 30: I DID IT! 50,231 words! This is the best feeling ever! Even if the whole thing is unusable! So glad to have got that idea finished, and on paper. This is like free drugs! Woohoo!! PARTY TIME!!

Day 72: Holy crap. Just re-read my NaNoWriMo novel. And at least three-quarters of what I wrote in November is actually not shit! And the story arc isn’t too shabby either. So glad I made that snap decision to kill off my first main character. A surprisingly decent novel starts after he’s gone. So proud of myself!


So there you go. There are 30 reasons to do NaNoWriMo in there somewhere. Sorry for the swearing but I haven’t the time to be an upstanding member of the community. I’m off now to do my 1,667 words. Or thereabouts…

  42 comments for “Why NaNoWriMo Is Good For You

  1. November 7, 2014 at 9:55 am

    Ah, Tara. If only your non-NaNoWriMo diary were a joke. We’ve all been there. And as for the martial arts knitter sticking his nose in…I sat looking at my screen one day (it seems like a long time ago). I had just written the opening sentence, All I’d said was, I wouldn’t mind seeing her in her knickers and all I could think was, “Where the hell did that come from?” It turned into Zappa’s Mam’s a Slapper, which I will be waving around at the Chorleywood Literary Festival next weekend, but getting there from “seeing her in her knickers” took time and a lot of effort. If Billy, the main character, hadn’t stood over my shoulder telling me what to write I don’t think it would be done yet.
    No, I’m not barmy. No, I don’t need to take the pills. Put them away, please. What are you doing with that needle?


    • November 7, 2014 at 10:17 am

      You have me sold right from that story title! Will you be publishing that at any stage? I’d like to read it. After you’re released, obviously.

      I love the feeling of a character standing over your shoulder, telling you what to write. I’m having that happy experience at the moment in my NaNoWriMo project with a wily but lovesick politician. Writing their bits is no work at all.


      • November 7, 2014 at 11:38 am

        It’s selling off my website right now (in fact from the Shopify store connected to my website)–I’ve just started the process of getting it accepted by Gardners so that bookshops will stock it. But the characters who break in here (I mean into this room I’m sitting in)–I’m afraid that’s become the norm. My next book (in what I hope is its final edit right now) is When the Darkness Comes and I got some surprises writing that. I’d already got Barabbas in for a nice chat show discussion about the Son of God when Ras Tafar showed up with the demand, “If he’s in, I’m in.” Then the pair of them got into a heated argument right in front of me (naturally I transferred it all to the book) about who were really the people of God; it ended with Barabbas punching Betjeman (who wasn’t part of the argument at all) and knocking several teeth out. He also kept spitting on the floor, which royally pissed off the chat show host.

        Nuts? Me?


        • November 7, 2014 at 12:18 pm

          That sounds hilarious. And of course you’re not nuts. Fruit, maybe?


          • November 7, 2014 at 12:51 pm

            Please write me a note for the doctor.


            • November 7, 2014 at 2:08 pm

              No bother. Just as soon as I get my hands on some authentic 4th century Coptic vellum, I’ll have it right over.


  2. November 7, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    The time travelling milkmaid???? Tara, you have to write this. Or wait……no, it’s too good to share generally. I’ve just had a cracking idea. Unfortunately, it will have to join the queue. I’m on chapter 2 already, the hero and heroine have met, kissed, had a row, made up…how are you doing?


    • November 7, 2014 at 2:11 pm

      I’m not doing too bad, although today will be tricky, between work and travel. You’re probably heading for a love quadrangle then, if you’ve already got that much in to 2 chapters. I had some fun yesterday writing a crime-ridden date which wasn’t a date, laced with brandy. Some other days have been a real drag, though.


      • November 7, 2014 at 2:35 pm

        Maybe you’re just trying to do too much. Or trying to work on a particular bit that your brain isn’t ready to deal with. Go on…you can do it!


        • November 7, 2014 at 2:47 pm

          Oh, I’ll do it all right! What’s not to love about the only time when what you put down is not actually allowed to matter? Such freedom! Such freedom, in fact, that I may move to the US, put on the curtains, and go shopping in Walmart.

          Liked by 1 person

          • November 7, 2014 at 3:22 pm

            Everyone should do it at least once. Preferably late at night. In one of the larger square states.

            Liked by 1 person

            • November 7, 2014 at 3:41 pm

              I never thought about it in terms of shapes. But I totally see where you’re coming from, there 😀


          • November 7, 2014 at 3:37 pm

            No you can’t do that. You have to listen to my brilliant idea. You’ll never have to tuck your boobies under your waistband because this will make us (well, nuts, probably) rich and famous. Really it will.


            • November 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm

              Oh, OK so. I will listen to your brilliant idea. Ideally, during a high-level meeting which we will be having in either the Savoy in London, or somewhere far more ironic-cool swanky. While drinking champagne lattes, mainlining fame and dodging phone calls from our agents.

              If that’s not a goer, I suppose you could just tell me by e-mail.


              • November 7, 2014 at 4:06 pm

                And why is it that a trip to America to see a walmart in the middle of the night wouldn’t be a brilliant side story for this novel? Tuck those bad boys in your trousers and look like a native.


              • November 7, 2014 at 4:23 pm

                champagne lattes? let’s just have it neat. but I’ll tell you by email first. Although you will laugh, but I am right.


                • November 7, 2014 at 4:34 pm

                  You can’t get Champagne Lattes at Walmart, but you can get cheap champagne and a six pack of lattes. Same thing, really.

                  Liked by 2 people

                  • November 7, 2014 at 9:48 pm

                    Champagne in Walmart?? Are you sure that those people aren’t really the creme de la creme? Who don’t care about the way they look because they have so much money they don’t have to? (I was going to put ‘class’ there, but then I remembered the pictures). They’re probably all eccentric billionaires. And if you offered to carry their bag for them, they might leave you squillions in their will.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    • November 7, 2014 at 10:43 pm

                      I’ll give you a year’s supply of IOUs, Elaine, if you’ll just go over & test that theory. Deal?

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • November 8, 2014 at 9:51 am

                      Deal. But IOUs first.

                      Liked by 1 person

                    • November 8, 2014 at 12:27 pm

                      That’s a nice thought, but no, I’m pretty sure they’re not. And it’s not really “Chanpagne” as such. It’s a 1.99 dollar bottle of asti spumanti. It’s “sparkling wine”, if you want to be technical about it.

                      Liked by 2 people

                • November 7, 2014 at 4:35 pm

                  I am most intrigued. Sounds very promising. No pressure 😉


  3. November 7, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    Yes, and that is why I am not writing a novel this november. That and I can’t even remember to capitalize november, so I haven’t really got a shot at it anyway.


    • November 7, 2014 at 3:42 pm

      But not capitalising november just means that it’ll be a tech-generation novel. You know, like in the style of Douglas Coupland. There’s millions of bitcoins in that. Fact.


  4. November 7, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    Huge respect to NANOWRIMO peeps everywhere – took me about 8 years to get to 130K+ count for my one and only… ><

    I think that blogging and posting in general (wherever you do that) is a v.g. habit to get into though in that (if the bug bites) you probably top out around a thousand a day, although doing a coherent story arc's not quite so 'easy peasy'. All comes done to a modicum of discipline with a good dash of enjoyment and a smidge of catatonic/desperately unfussy 2 finger typing (and a v.g spell checker) in the end… 😛


    • November 7, 2014 at 5:16 pm

      You’re dead right, Jan, the more non-novel stuff I write, the more novel stuff I write, it seems. Although this level of output doesn’t happen any other month but November, but I used to have months on end of writing nothing, and that never happens now.

      I seem to have more than a smidge of the catatonia, though 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. November 7, 2014 at 6:19 pm

    Good luck! I always think that to be able to write 50,000 in a month that the novel would want to be pretty well prepped to start with. It is good for deadlines though and boy, do I need deadlines!


    • November 7, 2014 at 10:41 pm

      That’s grand so Lorna, you’ve just given me a great idea for a new app/business. Deadlines for sale, 20 quid a pop. 😀


  6. November 8, 2014 at 1:44 am

    Ah, Tara, so hilarious–how the heck do you have time to write thoughtful and witty posts when you’ve got 1650+ words to write, and probably more ’cause maybe you missed a day ’cause you went to the pub instead, intending to write, but then talking and drinking until too late? Oh, wait, that was me.


  7. November 8, 2014 at 8:02 am

    Great fun read… oops why am I reading ? I’m supposed to be writing as I’m well behind my target. Oh yes, that’s right I’m just waking up my grey cells and then I’m going to have an amazing writing day full of flowing prose and lively characters… Love to all nanowrimo folk x


    • November 8, 2014 at 11:02 am

      Maybe you’re having the writer’s morning coffee – the first blog read of the day! Glad to see you here!


  8. November 10, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    A convincing demonstration. I’ve just got to find a spare November…


    • November 10, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Here, I have loads of them. I keep them in a room with my own personal rainclouds. I’ll lend you one.


      • November 10, 2014 at 8:36 pm

        Lend? That’s a bit mean, isn’t it? No point in holding onto surplus Novembers. May, now–that would be a different matter.


        • November 10, 2014 at 8:40 pm

          Goshdarnit, everyone’s a critic. Right so, I’ll give them away, then. Little enough precious misery I have to be keeping me writing this month, without giving it away for nothing. But I’ll do it.


  9. November 10, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    This year is my NaNo number 9 and I laways had a great fun. I’m working to my trilogy for the fourth time. Yeah, I salvaged a lot of NaNo 2010 😉


    • November 10, 2014 at 8:34 pm

      9 NaNos! A trilogy! 4th time around! You have ALL the numbers! I am very very impressed 😀


  10. November 12, 2014 at 3:07 am

    Loony and inspired, a deadly combo 🙂 Write on!

    Liked by 1 person

    • November 12, 2014 at 9:56 am

      Hi Jackie, I see you’re doing it too! Hope you and your NaNoWriMo project are getting on well, with minimum arguments and mudslinging. I had a minor spat with mine over the weekend but I won, and you should see the other guy 😉


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