NaNoWriMo: Making The Decision To Write Another Book in 30 Days

I had been on the fence about participating in NaNoWriMo again this year. I have written 4 novels in the last 8 years. Cold Rock was one of them, and it was published last November.

“Doing Nano” this year was not an issue of desire or how full the creative well might be (that’s never an issue in October and November, my two most productive writing months each year); it was all about time. I sketched out a very detailed work of fiction for Little Patuxent Review‘s DOUBT-themed issue. The deadline was November 1, and I never even completed a first draft of the story.

If I didn’t have time to write a short story, how in the world would I find the time to write a novel?

The big difference is what comes after the draft is written. Writing it down is not the hard part; what you do with it afterward is.

When I was planning out the DOUBT story for LPR, I was thinking “publication” the entire time. This put me in a different mind-set, and as a result, I never finished the story.

Like I said, drafting is never the issue; it’s the 5-7 revisions that follow that take the most amount of time. As the deadline closed in around me, I realized that rushing that process would produce a sub-par story that would end in a rejection, wasting both my time and the readers over at LPR.

That’s what happened when I submitted to their Social Justice issue. Rush and Rejection. Waste of time all-around.

Working on the Nano novel is completely different. Here’s why.

The goal is to complete a draft in 30 days. Although the goal is to produce a rather sound story that exceeds 50,000 words, there’s no judge weighing in on the Shit-ometer scale. It’s a draft, and it’s okay if it sucks.

I know that, after I finish, I will set a reasonable deadline schedule for my revisions. But that’s an entirely different scenario than what I was facing with the LPR deadline. If it takes me a year, then so be it. Maybe just six months? All the better. I get to wrap it up on my time, though, no matter how I look at it. I know I will be aggressive with the deadlines, but at least I won’t feel that deadline pressure before the first draft is even written. That pressure fits in an entirely different category, and I’m okay with that.

Finally, there are really no expectations with this story. I’ve sketched out a basic plot, but I have the time to give the characters some free reign over where this story might go. I couldn’t really do that with the LPR piece. Not enough time, and too much pressure.

I’ve decided to publish the Nano novel as I write it (here, on my blog) to allow my readers a chance to see a story develop in real time. I’m also allowing my readers to shout out some input, suggestions, and general thoughts about the characters, the plot, and what they think should happen next. You, Reader, have the chance to make a difference in this story just by following along and telling me what you think. If it’s a plausible suggestion, and it fits with the general idea of the story, I will likely include it.

Voila! Suddenly it becomes a community story, where each of us has shared a little to make this story come alive. That, to me, is a very cool thing indeed.

So don’t hesitate. Read the first section posted here (if you haven’t already done so), and follow along for the rest of the month. Share your thoughts and ideas and become an integral part of this story.

I can’t wait to collaborate with you!

3 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: Making The Decision To Write Another Book in 30 Days

  1. Thank you for the insightful post, Rus. You’re right. Writing for NaNo and writing with a specific publication in mind are very different exercises. As an editor, my hope is that poets and fiction writers will send us pieces they had already been working on and polishing, rather than writing something new to fit LPR’s theme. What a great idea, blogging your novel as you write it!


  2. Thanks, Marjorie… I remember reading something by Bradbury or Hemingway that alluded to something similar, and it just fit perfectly here.. 🙂

    Laura- As a teacher of writing, one of the things that frustrates me so much is when writers think that just finishing a piece on deadline is good enough; they are thrilled that they were able to turn something in by the due date, and that serves as the lone accomplishment that is supposed to justify that “A” they are seeking. But just getting it written does not mean, in any way, that the writing is good.

    I think that anybody can write a draft on deadline; it’s what they do with it afterward that matters the most.

    As far as blogging the novel, there’s the other risk that some readers might take it as a final product and a representation of my polished writing. Be prepared for plenty of disclaimers before and after each post!

    Thanks to both of you for joining the conversation. I appreciate it. 🙂


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