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Can You Write A Novel In One Month – To NaNo Or Not To NaNo


National Novel Writing Month or Nanowrimo as it is commonly referred to, is fast approaching. From November 1st thousands of writers will attempt to write a minimum of 50,000 words before midnight on the 31st.

Some writers hate the idea and believe you cannot possibly write a novel in a month. Others love it and swear by it as a useful tool. You have to be realistic. At the end of the month, it’s possible you will come out with 50,000 words of pure rubbish. But you have 50,000 words down on ‘paper’ and that’s surely a great basis from which to work from in order to produce something great isn’t it?

Have you done Nanowrimo before? If so how did you get on? I have some ideas I would like to work on and I am undecided as yet whether I should use Nanowrimo as a reason to knuckle down and get on with it.

One idea is already in the planning and I even started it (is that even allowed?), so I know the characters and the basic plot. Another of my ideas only came about the other day thanks to Chrissie at The Muddled Manuscript. It is a prequel to the novel I have already been working on and I am not sure where the story would go, but it does include some familiar characters. I need to make the decision which one to go with though.

If I go ahead with this, I am possibly setting myself up for failure. It means early mornings to write around 2,000 words and I’m not sure if I can achieve anything more than five days a week. But when I think about it, failure doesn’t matter, because at least I will have made a really good start at my next novel by the end of November and that is basically my main aim.

I found some great advice on Kristen Lamb’s blog. One of the main points she makes repeatedly, is that NanoWrimo is for writing, not editing. If you are going to do it, get on and write and don’t even worry about typos. Definitely don’t come out expecting to have a novel ready for publishing.

What do you think? Can it be done?

I’m sharing this post for What I’m Writing.

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Comments (0)

  1. To infinity and ivf 21st October 2014 at 8:32 am

    I’m not sure if it can be done but I bet it’s such a huge boost to get absolutely lots done in a short space of time and that can only be a good thing. Good luck 🙂 x

    • Nicola Young 21st October 2014 at 9:23 am

      Thanks. Yes I definitely don’t expect to have a novel at the end, but at the very least lots of words from which to work from. Question is, is it better to take your time to write 50,000 words or to bash it all out in a shorter time frame?

  2. redpeffer 21st October 2014 at 9:42 am

    I’d totally agree that NanoWrimo is for writing not editing. I couldn’t possibly commit to that because it would involve me doing that and nothing else which is not remotely realistic for me. But I am approaching my own novel in the same way-writing without editing. It’s very freeing. So if you feel you can commit to the time, I can imagine it might be a fascinating experience to explore. It’s all about priorities and finding balance again isn’t it, and what works for you.

    • Nicola Young 21st October 2014 at 4:06 pm

      If you don’t count weekends, it amounts to 2,500 words per day, which is a big commitment. But I do like the idea of just getting on with it, rather than procrastinating over the first few chapters.

  3. maddy@writingbubble 21st October 2014 at 9:53 am

    I absolutely think it can be done (like, nine times or something if you’re Chrissie) but I can’t put myself through it – not at the moment. Like Iona I have too many different writing projects going on! I did do CampNano back in July though where you can set your own word target (mine was 15,000) and I loved that as I felt I was part of something and it spurred me on.

    If you’re genuinely contemplating it, then I think it would be a great thing to do. As you say, ‘failure’ doesn’t matter. In fact, as long as you get some words down I think you can regard it as success! Go for it!
    Thanks for linking to #WhatImWriting xx

    • Nicola Young 21st October 2014 at 4:08 pm

      Thanks for your encouragement. I did the camp nono last year and didn’t make it because my daughter ended up in hospital after breaking her arm! Life gets in the way sometimes and you never know what might happen. That could be as good an argument as ever for just giving it a go.

  4. Mummy Tries 21st October 2014 at 9:58 am

    I’m totally with Maddy on this and think if you have the capacity then just do it. What have you got to lose? I did camp in July and failed miserably because I could not dedicate the time every single day #whatimwriting

  5. Emily Organ 21st October 2014 at 4:50 pm

    I’ve often thought about doing NaNoWriMo but I never have. I think it is possible to really tackle a novel in that time. I think you need to have a lot of your ideas beforehand though. I know what it’s like to write 30,000 words and then decide you want to completely change a character, add one in or remove one completely! So if anyone’s serious about NaNoWriMo I think October needs to be the month for planning and outlining. I didn’t used to do either but I’m recognising how important they are for saving time. And there’s research too! I totally agree you can come out with 50,000 words for editing and refining and that’s a good achievement. Good luck with it x

  6. Sara (@mumturnedmom) 21st October 2014 at 7:38 pm

    I think it sounds like an amazing thing to do, but I’m not sure I could ever commit enough time to do it… But, I do find that setting any kind of target spurs me on and gives me focus. It does seem that the only way to do it successfully is to already have an idea outlined… but perhaps that’s just the way my brain works 🙂 And equally, just taking the time to write and see where it goes could be really valuable and exciting too!

    • Nicola Young 22nd October 2014 at 6:39 pm

      If I didn’t have a plan I would just sit at my computer and stare at the screen getting worried that time was ticking and i hadn’t done enough words. That could be the stress of it, I guess.

  7. deskmonkeymummy 21st October 2014 at 9:41 pm

    Ooh. I’m glad I could help, especially as you gave me all that stuff to be getting on with (which was absolutely fab.)
    I am addicted to NaNoWriMo. It’s a great way to get a story out and play with characters and things, but you WILL write utter tripe, so I think that probably makes for more difficult editing. I’ve done 8 now and always got my 50k but rarely completed a novel in the month. I always find I have to continue afterwards, which is another challenge in itself.
    I don’t believe you can write a publishing-ready novel in 30 days. I do believe you can write a very rough first draft which allows a huge margin for errors but will get the bulk of your story down and out on the paper.
    I say if you have the idea, go for it. x

  8. sophieblovett 21st October 2014 at 11:54 pm

    Attempting NaNoWriMo two years ago was what finally got me writing – I was 7 months pregnant and nearing the end of renovating our house and was never actually going to manage the 50,000 words, but I did create a detailed enough plan of my novel that I was able to sit down and write it when Arthur was three months old. I think it’s a great motivator, and I hope to give in a go again one day. Not this year though! Good luck with your decision making… X

  9. Nicola Young 22nd October 2014 at 6:42 pm

    It’s definitely a kick up the bum. It’s a bit like me and the gym: if I just went along on my own, I wouldn’t do much, but if I go to a class, I am made to work hard and I get so much more out of it. I need the motivation.

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  11. Ula 27th October 2014 at 8:58 am

    I’ve done NaNoWriMo before and it’s doable, but you must prepare.

  12. Morgan Prince 29th October 2014 at 10:42 am

    I’m a little late with this reply but I think it’s possible. I’m sure you have to prepare and be ready to dedicate time but I definitely think you can reach that target. I’ve never tried it myself but then I’ve been working on the same thing for a few years now!

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