Lisa Shearin, National Bestselling Author

The point of doing NaNoWriMo

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From over at Terrible Minds, an awesome post on the Dos and Don’ts of NaNoWriMo. I especially like “Consider this a Zero Draft” and “Think of this as a very powerful outline or story bible.”

I think that your “success” with NaNo (and I don’t mean getting to 50K) depends on knowing what you’re going to accomplish and avoiding unrealistic expectations.  50K is not a complete novel. And what you end up with at the end of November is not supposed to be perfect.  Once you wrap your head around those two things, you really take the pressure off of yourself.  I know it worked for me.   What I’m doing is writing the big scenes in the book, the things that I KNOW are going to happen.  Smaller scenes spring from those.  I’m not even going in any particular order, but skipping around in the book as the mood hits me.  Working this way is keeping me from wanting to run back and edit what I’ve written.  When the dust settles, I’ll put everything in order and fill in the blanks.  So far, so good.

That being said, I’m behind on my word count — and that’s okay.  Yep, you heard me right.  It’s okay.  My sister and nephew came up this weekend, so needless to say, no writing got done.  I only get to see them once or twice a year, and I spent good, fun, quality time with my family.  This Saturday, I’ll be spending the day antique shopping with my friend Robin — a girls’ day out.  I need it, I’m taking it, and I’m going to have fun.  No guilt.

In my opinion, the point of NaNo isn’t to kill yourself getting to 50K, the point is to get you in the habit of writing every day.  That’s how you can be productive — and get published.  Writing in fits and starts only when the muse visits isn’t going to get it done.  You need a routine, daily writing is best.  But on those days when you can’t write, never beat yourself up.  Writing is supposed to be fun, not consume your life.   Take the time to HAVE a life.   Your writing will thank you for it.


12 Responses to “The point of doing NaNoWriMo”

  1. Robert says:

    You can’t write about life, even a fantasy life, without having some sort of real life. And sometimes reality intrudes into writing. Better to live and have something to say than write and not say anything.

  2. Lisa Shearin says:

    Exactly right, Robert. Well said.


  3. Xandra says:

    I’ve realised through doing Nano that I LOVE to write to a deadline AND by the seat of my pants (who knew?! I certainly didn’t, lol).

    I’ve hit the 50k mark but still have another 25k (at least) to finish telling the story so I’ve got no illusions about the fabled 50k mark being anything but another stepping stone in my journey. But I will say that it was a great personal achievement for me to reach and I’m enormously happy that I did it.

    My expectations are low about this first draft but by doing Nano, it’s opened up so much more. I’m learning all the time but what i’ll be taking away from November is to have fun and don’t get hung up on the little things.

    This has encouraged me to do something I’ve never managed to do before and that was to write everyday because, hey, I’m actually a writer 😉

  4. Lisa Shearin says:

    Way to go, Xandra! : )


  5. Angela Craven says:

    Yay! I enjoyed a weekend in the mountains with no technology of any kind, and I don’t feel guilty either. 🙂 Now, back to writing!

  6. Mary W. says:

    Thanks for the reminder and the encouragement! My NaNo project is moving along, as is the other MS I began re-working shortly after NaNo started.

  7. A freinds who once took a novel-in-a-week course said there’s a lot of “briefly describing the scene that goes here” involved in getting everything roughed-out in time. Their goal for that was 25K, so it couldn’t be a completed novel. She thinks that NaNo’s 50K in a month is a somewhat more relaxed version of the same thing. I suspect she’s right. {SMILE}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

  8. Jessica says:

    This is a very timely reminder for me. Gracias! It’s nice, too, to know that your writing approach this month, of skipping around the book, is much like mine. I feel…relieved that I’m not the only one.

    So thank you and happy writing!

  9. Chicory says:

    Thanks for this post. It’s exactly perfect right now. 🙂

  10. Kim says:

    Hello Lisa!

    I haven’t commented here in awhile, but I am still a complete fan : )

    I don’t think I ever told you that I love B@B! I find your humor very funny, and your plot keeps surprising me.

    Thanks for doing these Monday mini-snippets! It’s wonderful to look forward to when waiting for the work portion of the day to end.

    Good luck with NaNo, and I think your philosophy about it sounds wonderful.

    I don’t suppose you might be able to give a Tam mini-snippet eventually? (no pressure–just thought I’d ask)

  11. Chuck says:

    Just wanted to pop in and say that I’m glad the article resonated. And, of course, thanks for the linkage. 🙂

    — Chuck

  12. Lisa Shearin says:

    Thank YOU, Chuck, for writing such a great post!

    Kim, I’ll make Monday’s snippet one from Tam. ; )

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