Posted in Of Writingly

How Does One NaNo?

Today, I have the lovely SourgirlOhio from Another Bad Conversation telling us all about what it takes to NaNo – writing a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Enjoy!


I would like to thank my wonderful host here at Of Opinions for allowing me to share a little bit of my NaNoWriMo experience with you.

I wrote a novel last November. Pretty impressive, right?

I wasn’t the only one. A lot of people wrote novels last November. And a lot of people will write novels this November. Even more people will attempt to write novels this November.

Because November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). But NaNo is more than just a month or a website. It’s an initiative. It’s a challenge.

The goal for NaNo is to write fifty-thousand words in thirty days. There’s a website where you can track your progress, connect with other participants, and eventually upload your novel at the end of the month. After uploading your draft, you’ve essentially “won” NaNo. And, while there isn’t a prize per se, I believe all “winners” received a subscription to Scrivener last year, which is a pretty great tool from what I hear. But, the goal of NaNo is not to walk away with a novel ready to go to the publisher. The goal of NaNo is to get the story out of your head and your notes and into a draft. Because you can’t edit a blank page.

So, how does one NaNo?

The process begins with an idea. Before you even think about signing up or checking out the website or deciding on a planning process, do you have an idea for a novel? Do you have the skeleton of a story in your head?

I finished NaNo last year. I can’t say that I “won”, because I never uploaded my draft to the website. But I wrote 50k words between November 1 and 30, 2014. And I’m proud of that.

The Progress Chart of My Completed Novel Writing Challenge
The Progress Chart of My Completed Novel Writing Challenge

I’ve been asked what the key to finishing is and I don’t believe that answer is the same for everyone. There are people who’ve spent months preparing outlines and timelines and storyboards for their novel. I’ve read many blog posts recently about ways that people “prep” for NaNo and I’m sure many of those suggestions work for many people.

I’m a pantser. I don’t outline or plan my fiction. I just write. Or maybe there is a planning phase, but it goes on in my head, not on a screen or paper.

I wasn’t sure if I would attempt NaNo this year. I owe all my success in finishing last year to one thing: obsession. I was absolutely obsessed with the story. It ran through my mind all day, I was constantly coming up with variations and changing things and contemplating the characters…only without ever actually making an outline or taking notes. But, my mind was consumed with the story. And I believe this is what it takes to drive me to squeeze out 1667 words per day, every day, for a month, which is what it takes to finish.

So coming up on this NaNo season, my interest in my last novel had all but dried out. (I have some editing to do….) And, I wondered if there was a point to trying again without the drive.

And then several weeks ago, the muse struck again. I was unexpectedly graced with a kernel of an idea for another story. And over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve become entirely obsessed with the idea. Which is my key ingredient to finishing NaNo.

The website support is great. I enjoyed tracking my progress and I connected with a lot of great bloggers and writers by adding “buddies”. And it helps to know as you struggle to fit it in every day that there are a lot of other people sacrificing their time in hopes of getting their story out.

And those who plan, start with a lot of great tools. But in the end, without an idea that you are passionate about, I believe finishing NaNo would be very difficult.

Anybody interested in the challenge, you can sign up for free at   And if you need a buddy, you can find me at SourgirlOhio –

Good luck!

I’ve also signed up for NaNo this year, so if you’d like a buddy in me, you can find me here:

Are you attempting NaNoWriMo this year? Are you a NaNo Winner?


Writer, Blogger, Kate Bush Fanatic

8 thoughts on “How Does One NaNo?

  1. Reblogged this on Another Bad Conversation and commented:
    As November quickly approaches, I am privileged to be guest posting over at Of Opinions, sharing my pantser’s approach to National Novel Writing Month.

    Please feel free to share any thoughts on planning – or not planning! – in the comments. And good luck to everyone who is attempting Nano this year!

    1. Thank you! You’re in for a ride then, as NaNo mania has surely begun on WordPress! Be sure to head on to their website linked above and see if you want to join us on the adventure!

  2. I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo for the first time this year and I’m really excited. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while and even though my university life doesn’t give me much time to complete my novel, I’m determined to try. If you want to check out my blog post about it then I’ll leave the link Good luck! 🙂 x

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