Monday, November 5, 2012

NaNoWriMo -- DON'T Write a Book in a Month

Yup, you heard me.

Because books are like these:

Don't own this photo.

And these:

I actually do own this. So HA, photo copyright lawsuits!

Unless you are writing for the MG audience or you write novellas, your book will NOT end up in the 50,000 word range that is National Novel Writing Month's goal. They will be like the above books: bigger, thicker, and longer (...).

For me, at least, I like doing all the drafting and creative work in one go. Usually, this means I have +100K novels, but I do edit the life out of them in the next phase (my most prized shortening is 136K to 85Kish).

For most of us, our novels will not end up in the 50K range. If you do decide to get a book done in November, I bet (or suggest) you:
  • are a writer that loves to flesh out the skeleton of a draft; you like adding more than deleting
  • you are doing NaNoWriMo for fun, or as an exercise/study in writing (This would have saved me the wreck of a MS that was my first MS. And my second, to think of it. Sigh....)
  • your genre/category permits you to have a shorter word count
Because if you don't like fleshing out the bones, then your post-NaNo experience will be a nightmare. Don't try squeezing in a healthy 80K novel into 50K words by cutting subplots or adding placeholders ("Main character kills bad guy"). If you do enjoy fleshing out your novel, keep going with NaNo's goal. However, if you are like me and want a relaxing and mindless editing job (relatively speaking), don't squeeze your book. It's book suicide.

Squeezing a manuscript means twice the work: draft twice as much, labor twice as hard -- not pretty.
But I love NaNoWriMo. Even though I'm against its goal for a full novel, I sure as heck need a push to write 50K. Honestly, it's not really "rushing" to write 1,667 words a day. Writing a book in that word count is rushing. I can do 1,667 words, but I need a push. NaNo is that push.

I am recommending NaNo to everyone here. Start right (or write, hehe) now; it doesn't matter if you are late to the game; just get 1,667 words a day. Do it even if you are not drafting; up the word count to 2,500 and edit that much of your novel each day. Heck, do a NaNo in December.

Just do it. That's all NaNo is about, and in November, NaNo gets you with one of the best communities on the Internet. November is a great month for writers.

But don't try suffocating your novel if that's not for you. Try to shoot for 50K this month, not to finish the whole book.

Heck, even Water for Elephants (with a newish movie starring Robert Pattison) was a NaNo novel -- and its published word count was 100,483 words. That's double the NaNo goal.

Don't kill your works of art and future NYT best sellers in the awesomeness that is NaNoWriMo.
(And it truly is awesome. So do it!)

Have fun NaNoing, and find me there as well, under SC_Author :)

Do you have any advice for NaNoers?


  1. My advice - no matter how much you write, it's still better than if you hadn't tried at all, so don't quit.
    I fit that first criteria - I add more after a first draft than delete. That said, neither of the books I wrote during a month challenge were done at 50,000 words. I had to keep writing.

  2. Great post here, SC. I also recommend everyone doing NaNo at least once. It's a great experience. I enjoyed mine. But I also know that I'll prob never do it again. I know how I work, and I'd rather stay with my groove. ;-)

  3. I don't think you have to actually finish the book. You have to finish writing 50 K words. And even for YA, that's on the short side of things.

    If I were to write 50 K in one month, I would end up with a lot of filler words that need to be cut in the end. Just like in high school when I had to write 2000 word reports. Only now, I know I have to go back and build on the substance that went missing in the attempt to hit the word count goal. :D

  4. The caption under your photo cracked me up. :D

  5. That's a good point. I do tend to write short and flesh it out in revisions, but I know not everyone does. I figure if I ever do NaNoWriMo I'll aim for 50,000 words and finish the rest in December, much as it would kill me not to have a whole book at the end. Oh, and I love your photo captions!

  6. I just addd you as a nano buddy! :)

    I love NaNo too - there's nothing like the rush of being part of a crowd of crazy writers aiming for that 50K! Love it. The word count for my genre is generally 55k - 80k, so I never have a complete novel at the end of the month, but boy, does it feel great to have that chunk moving along!