Q&A 276: Are you participating in or have you participated in Nanowrimo?

In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.

Are you participating in or have you participated in Nanowrimo?


November is the worst. See, I love the New Year, I love the turnover from December into January. It’s my birthday as well as the holidays and I’m energized by all the possibilities. But in November I panic. It is my least productive month of the year, every year. I forget how to do things like “make decisions” and “use words”. So I think Nano would be really good for me, but I haven’t been able to get it together yet.


I like the idea of NaNoWriMo in a lot of ways — the communal nature of it, the marriage of imaginative freedom and persistent work. But I’ve found it’s not a good match for the way I write. I’m more task-oriented than work-oriented, I guess is how I’d put it. There are times when I have been able to sit down every day to work on the same project (or at least 3 times a week — which, for me at least, counts as Quite a Lot of Time devoted to writing). But that happened because I was really devoted to finishing a project, not to the process. One year, I stuck with it all of November and got to over 50% of the word count goal, but I don’t remember any specifics of what I wrote and haven’t looked at it since. When the day comes that I’m passionate about a project for its own sake, maybe I’ll throw my whole November into it. But I won’t beat myself up because I’m not doing it. It’s not for me.


YES AND YES! I’ve participated in Nanowrimo every year since 2002 with only one year off. I’ve succeeded every year thus far, which I’m still a little boggled by. That first year I really didn’t expect to win, but I kept writing and encouraged to keep going by others. And that’s what I love about Nano — the camaraderie of knowing thousands of other writers around the world are struggling the same way you are. I can be discouraged or frustrated or frankly bored with my novel and then read someone’s forum post and realize maybe it’s not quite so bad. And every year presents a different challenge whether in research or structure or genre. I’ve had years where I’ve had to salvage horrible starts and I’ve had years where it was clear sailing. I’ve written everything from fantasy to time traveling trains to Golden Age superheroes.

I’m very much a pantser (I still haven’t found a way to outline that works for me) so I go in with a vague idea/concept and some worldbuilding questions and see how the story develops over the month. This year my story has morphed several times already in the early going. So far: Roman inspired fantasy setting and maybe there are vampires? That’s what I’m going with. At least until I get frustrated again.

So what about you? Are you participating in or have you participated in Nanowrimo?