In defense of NaNoWriMo

by Julie Frayn on October 28, 2015 in  Writing

I know, I know, I know. Another damn blog post about National Novel Writing Month you ask? Enough already! It’s all been said. All been written.

It’s like blogging a dead horse.

Tough noogies.


There. I’m out…

Not that anyone didn’t already know that about me. Hell, three of my four published novels were borne of NaNoWriMo, or its summertime cousin, Camp Nano, plus I have a 55,000-word baby WIP waiting to become a full-grown book.

Nano speaks to two critical aspects of my writing, er, um… “process.”

I don’t outline.

I realize some NaNoWrites do outline. There is lots of prep prior to November 1, character lists, scene lists, whatever lists. I tend to just jot a few ideas down around a main character and a title. Why?

Because life doesn’t come with an outline. Sometimes the best stories come from cause and effect. The one time I went in with a plan, my characters shot it all to hell and went their own way. Each author has their own process and I say, whatever works, baby! Winging it works for me. Entire novels spew forth from a title, from a flash piece, from a picture in my head, or a character’s name that tells their whole story in the time it takes to say that name out loud.

Maybe I wing it because I am Bird.

Word vomit

My first Nano (Camp in April 2012 that resulted in It Isn’t Cheating if He’s Dead) taught me a valuable lesson.

Just fucking write.

Silence your internal editor. When he (because my internal editor has huge balls) pokes his nasty little red pen into your thoughts, slay him! Duct tape his pen to his thigh and while you’re at it, slap a little of that silver magic over his mouth. Because internal editors talk too much.

Then there’s that daily word count requirement – and my obsessive need to WIN. Thus, word vomit was born. Open brain, puke words onto page. Not pretty (trust me, some of them are absolute shit), but they are there. And you’ll be way ahead of where you were just the day before.

Words on page, people. It’s kind of critical to writing.

One of the many bitches I read about Nano is that 50,000 words does not a novel make. Well, duh. The point is to get a running start. You don’t write the first 50K that pop out of your fingers and publish. You start there. December is about filling in plot holes, rounding out characters, going on a search and destroy mission for ‘ly adverbs and overused words, clichés and tripe and errors, oh my.

Many lament that Nano is in November. They must be Americans, because turkey and black Friday and the way-too-early pre-Christmas bullshit….

For this Canadian accountant, November is perfect. Post canucklehead turkey day by at least two weeks, sandwiched between budget time and yearend audit prep. If they move Nano to January, I am screwed. November isn’t too hot or too cold. November is just write…

See what I did there? Wink, wink, nudge nudge.

This is Julie, signing off.

nano nano

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Mary Smith October 28, 2015 at 1:08 pm

Good luck with it, Julie. I’m still swithering about signing up this year – certainly haven’t done any prep for it.


Julie Frayn October 28, 2015 at 1:17 pm

Swithering is new to me. Is that like waffling? mmmm, waffles.

Mary Smith October 29, 2015 at 3:50 am

A good Scots word – someone swithering can’t make up their mind.


Julie Frayn October 30, 2015 at 6:51 am

ah, so just like waffling. :)

Kathi October 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Yes, actually getting out of your own way and writing is one thing. Editing and polishing are another. If a writer can get good at both, but not confuse the two, she’s halfway home.

Good luck!!

xoxo, Kathi


Julie Frayn October 30, 2015 at 6:52 am

I think I’m home! :) Thank you. I’ve warned the kids, I’m off limits Sunday. And I get that extra DST hour to boot. xoxo

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