Monday, October 25, 2010

Reality Check for Nanowrimoers

Wow, we just have 7 days to go until NaNoWriMo! I'm starting to get excited and feel like those race horses behind the starting gate. I'm ready to dig in my heels and see how far ahead I can get in the race to get another rough draft under my belt.

Oh, did you catch that word? Rough! Do not expect to be ready to query in December.

Now most of you are going, "DUH! You shouldn't have to tell us that." But, oh and what a large but it is. There are some who see Nano as the miracle pill to published author. For the last two years I've sat back in utter amazement at how many people start posting their query letters for review in December on the Nano forums.

I'm glad everyone is so enthusiastic about their work, but come on. Ok, the first year I actually thought something must be wrong with me because I didn't produce a polished manuscript ready for publication at the end of Nano. What I had was a really good idea. The skeleton of a story at 60,000 words. I knew it wasn't ready. For the next two years (Yes two whole years!) I added the flesh and skin to those bones. I ballooned to over 90,000 words and then cut back to 83,000 (drat that backstory!).

The point is, Nano is wonderful if you have realistic expectations. It works for me because my only goal is to get the skeleton of my story on paper. This is actually the easy part. Adding the muscle, tendons, fat (we all need a little fat*wink*) blood and skin is the hard part. The cool thing is that the hard work can be just as enjoyable as the free spirited writing of Nano. Not every moment, but there is a deep satisfaction at the end of the revision and editing process. Don't miss out on becoming a better writer by calling it quits on December 1st.

Yesterday there was an excellent post on titled A Little Help for Nanowrimo Writers. I highly recommend it.

While you are at it, check out The Lyon's Tale: Top 5 Ways to Stay Sane as a Writer.


  1. Yes, this is great advice! This will be my first year trying Nano and I said something similar in my blog yesterday about coming out the far end of this in December with only a draft. I hope everyone takes it to heart Or there will be a lot of frustrated writers and even more frustrated recipients of querys.

  2. It took me over six months to complete my first book to the point I could even consider querying.
    I do intend to use NaNo to complete the sequel, though.

  3. Draft fast, revise slow. That's the best advice I've ever heard. I agree 150% that no one should query a story they banged out in 30 days and haven't revised at all.

    NaNo is great for a quick burst of very, very rough writing that can be revised into something good.

    BTW, I have a nice surprise for you on my blog.

  4. An even better point is that not only is your first draft not very query-able, but your first book is probably not all that query-able.

    Most authors who publish their "first" book have written several other books, short stories, and have been writing for years.

    I'm not saying it doesn't happen, but to send out the first draft of your first book -- or even the polished draft of your first book -- is setting some high expectations.

    - Eric

  5. So. Freaking. True. But evenso, I'm excited to write for awhile and put revision on the backburner.

  6. Well said. I can't imagine what an agent would say if I queried one of my rough drafts as finished work. Okay...yes I can. They would just laugh and laugh and laugh...

  7. Diane, I'm heading over to check out your blog.

    Alex, I think six months was excellent turn around. I'm also using Nano to write a sequel. One that I actually hope to revise next year. Yeah, I give myself all of December off.

    Laurel, you are awesome! And I love the draft fast revise slow. That should be a writers motto for sure.

    Eric, you are so right. Sendek is my first novel, but I put it away and did other things to grow as a writer before pulling it out and completely re-writing it for Nano. Maybe that was a slight cheat? Eh, it was completely different characters so even though the plot was the same, the events were all new.

    Colene--Yes, I'm hoping to head off some unpleasant blog reading from disgruntled agents, and tears from my region when they don't understand why no one wants to rep their novel. LOL

    Tina, I'm also looking forward to some creative writing again. Revisions have my brain tied in knots and November is my mental therapy. :)

  8. Tell it sister! Those people give NaNo a bad rep. It's not a magical wand; it's writing a book. Do the research.

  9. This is such a great advice! I have a habit of writing my query letter early (I actually have it written and partially revised now), but all I'm looking for with NaNo is a rough, rough draft that I can mold into something better later. :)

  10. Thanks for the post! It's always important to get a little perspective before starting something as heady as NaNo.


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