Writing a First Draft

National Novel Writing Month started yesterday, so those of you who are participating… what are you doing reading this blog???

For those who don’t know what this is, you can go to the NaNoWriMo site here and learn all about it. The point is to write a 50,000 word novel between Nov. 1 and Nov. 30. I think it’s great for discipline and for getting that first draft out. A terrific way to stop procrastinating and just do it!

Of course, unless you’re writing for a specific market, like the romances I wrote about in this post, 50,000 words isn’t going to be an entire novel. I guess you could either write the skeleton of a novel, then fill it out later, or write roughly half to a third of your novel by the end of November, whatever 50k words turns out to be.

So let’s talk about writing a first draft. Today I want to address a couple of things I think are pretty important when you’re sitting down to a blank screen. Now understand, we’re all different and we have unique strategies that work for us; these are general tips meant to be helpful. If they don’t work for you, throw them out.

Now is NOT the time to self-edit or worry about all those writing tips you’ve been taught. Just write. Let the words flow. If you’ve been studying the craft, you’ll naturally be inclined to show more than tell, write snappy dialogue, and be aware of how much backstory you’re allowing in. That’s great. But don’t let yourself get caught up in those details. Keep the forward momentum going. Your best writing will happen in the revision process.

Provide yourself uninterrupted time to write. This is a tough one, with jobs and families. But honestly, I think your biggest challenge is going to be staying off the Internet when you’re writing. I was recently re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing and he talks about having a quiet space to write, turning off the telephone, even closing the window shades to avoid distractions. How EASY it would be, if that’s all we had to worry about! King wrote it before the era of online social networking. The difficult truth is this: If you’re going to be a writer, you must set aside writing time and hold it as sacred. Turn off your Internet connection.

It’s hard because these days you are (unlike Stephen King) required to be a marketer, too. Nevertheless, you’re going to have to figure out a way to organize your life so that you have chunks of time for marketing activities, other blocks of time for learning (reading craft books, attending conferences), and significant periods when you’ll just write. Working on a first draft is when you JUST WRITE.

Get your family involved. If you live with other people who depend on you for things like bringing home the bacon and/or frying it up in the pan, you’re not going to be able to accomplish this alone. I’ve said this all before so forgive me if it sounds familiar, but I think it’s important, when writing a first draft or writing on a deadline, to consider various ways to call in the reinforcements. Get more help with cooking, grocery shopping, housecleaning or lawn-mowing if possible (delegate!) Set up a schedule for each week (it can be different each week, just as long as you make one) where you have protected writing times.

Sit your family down if necessary and let them know: “The next 30 days may be tough on you but I really need you to step up to the plate.” It might be hard on them but that’s okay; this is a learning curve for your whole family. Behind every successful writer is a supportive family who mobilizes to pick up the slack when mom or dad has a deadline—or a first draft to get out.

Remember this is a first draft. Lately I’ve seen a lot of ranting online from agents reminding writers: Do not submit in December whatever you wrote in November! Anyone who writes a first draft in a month is going to need several months to revise and polish. Revisions are when the real crafting happens. So don’t proudly start querying on December 1st with your NaNoWriMo project! (Unless it was last’s year’s NaNoWriMo project.)

For a little more inspiration, see this post I wrote awhile back: Prepare Yourself for Success

And here’s a very detailed blog post from Nathan Bransford’s client Natalie Whipple: Tips for First Drafting

Q4U:
Are you participating in NaNoWriMo?
What is your goal for the 50,000 words—an entire novel, or half of one?
Have you ever done this before? How’d it work for you?
If you’re not going to do it—why not?
.

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!

125 Comments

  1. pj schnyder on November 6, 2009 at 11:57 AM

    >I'm a little late answering, because I was writing. 😉

    I'm participating in NaNoWriMo this year with a goal of 50K words or the finish of my novel or both, whichever happens by Nov 30.

    I like it because it sort of flushes out the pipes in my brain, so to speak. I approach it knowing that my novel will be longer than 50K and that I will be revising, sending for beta reading and revising again.

    This year I'm using it to try something new. I'm writing in a new genre in a new POV.

    It's a good way to stretch outside the box.



  2. Taylor on November 6, 2009 at 2:50 AM

    >yep you're definitely right, it's tough trying to balance doing your art with marketing. Both are necessary though!

    http://www.Taybot3.com



  3. Ashley on November 5, 2009 at 11:17 PM

    >Thanks a lot for this post. I need something to kick my @$$ to get me writing so I'm not just sitting here telling myself how much a suck. I will only suck if I don't do it! I'm doing it and joined NaNoWriMo!



  4. Writer on November 4, 2009 at 6:40 PM

    >Hey there! I'm a fairly new reader of your blog, so first I'd just like to say it's been great to read what you have to say. Thank you!

    Like several others I've seen commenting, this is my first year doing NaNoWriMo. I first heard about it on Sunday (yep, that's Nov. 1) and got instantly excited because I'm the sort of person that needs a deadline like this to get any kind of work done. Furthermore, I'm also terrible at setting them for myself.

    My word count is suffering at the moment because I recently got myself a job. But tonight is wide open and I'll be typing furiously. I'm very glad I heard about NaNo and I hope to be participating for many years to come.



  5. Holly on November 3, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    >I'm doing NaNoWriMo for the first time. I need permission to just let my creative side go crazy. I've spent the last three months plotting and planning, cooking up characters and letting ideas simmer and percolate. The indgredients are all there. NaNo is my excuse to get it into the pan and fry it up! My finished novel will probably be around 80,000 words, so this is a great start. Good luck everyone! Buddy me at hollywolfe – see how creative I can be with usernames?



  6. Khor on November 3, 2009 at 8:51 AM

    >This is my first year in partecipating in NaNo. It's the first time I have a solid plot to work with already in mind. I thought I should try, since I have the tendency to edit a lot, and that slows me down a lot when writing the first draft. If I can get to 50,000 words it'll probably be one third or a litte more of the whole novel. It started well, I just hope to keep going like this!
    Thanks for your post, I always find something interesting when I come here.



  7. beauty salon london on November 3, 2009 at 3:31 AM

    >50,000 words it means approximately 178 pages…. well i can't but my friend who participated and he is good going…



  8. Mira on November 3, 2009 at 2:16 AM

    >Very helpful post! I liked what you had to say and how you organized the information.

    Thanks



  9. Rhyanna on November 3, 2009 at 12:09 AM

    >ooopss…yes I am participating in nano at least trying tooo… with that said, laptop goes into shop tomorrow ship to HP, while desktop is also on the blitz…sigh

    rhyanna Have a Great Day



  10. Rhyanna on November 3, 2009 at 12:07 AM

    >Hi Wendy are you on Twitter? I am under daeanarah.
    I have several manuscripts, so this post came a little too late, but now I know via dorchester pub that I have two ms to tighten the plot. I guess the light fluff stuff like Barbara Cartland of decades ago is no more…lol.
    Thanks for posting this.



  11. Mechelle Fogelsong on November 2, 2009 at 11:46 PM

    >Maybe this sounds crazy or obsessive, but all year long, I have three novel projects going at once:
    #1. The novel I'm presently writing.
    #2. The manuscript I've made 12 copies of, given to various editors to pick apart, and am continually revising.
    #3. The novel I honestly believe is a done deal, and now I'm just trying to get an agent to believe in it.

    So NaNoWriMo is more NaNoWriAlways for me.



  12. Jessica on November 2, 2009 at 10:07 PM

    >It's really refreshing to see an agent encouraging NaNoWriMo instead of dismissing it. This is my third year doing it (and I just hit my goal for the hour, so am rewarding myself with a little internet break). I tend to write the first half in November, then finish in December. After six rounds of revisions, NaNo 2007 is now being queried. Although, I must be honest, although I did a lot in terms of neatening my plot, smoothing over my characters, etc., I didn't really change much of the writing itself. I don't write very different first drafts during NaNo than I do out of NaNo, even though I'm doing it at a much accelerated pace. During NaNo, I just don't accept any excuses from myself. I let that story come clawing out.



  13. Sarah Wells on November 2, 2009 at 9:51 PM

    >I did this to get the bones of my current manuscript down a couple months ago. It was great for getting me to practice discipline and just sit down and write, rather than waiting for a muse to show up. And to then do it again and again day after day. I really learned to manage my time around my writing blocks, which had to wait until my baby girl napped. I learned a lot, got a ton done, but am still cleaning up the mess! I wish I had read more about craft before I did it (this is my first novel, which I've played with in my head for years). I think I wouldn't have to be changing so much now if I'd known more craft to start with. Thanks for the great posts and frequent helpful tips!



  14. Anonymous on November 2, 2009 at 8:44 PM

    >Thanks for your encouragement! This is my first NaNo but not my first time drafting a novel.

    My goal is to put 50,000 words into a first draft I've been procrastinating about because I've been busy with editing the other novel.

    I am actually starting at chapter three. And I imagine I won't get to the end. But who knows? I have a good idea where I want this novel to go and what I want to have happen, but my outline is loose. This is a great chance to hash it out.

    I also think that if I have written less than 50,000 words but have a great outline and a few scenes I'm really proud of, I'm going to be happy.



  15. Rachel on November 2, 2009 at 8:32 PM

    >I have dreams of participating someday, but life isn't letting me this year. I'm a newlywed coming up on 6 months and my DH was laid off the week before the wedding. We're still job-hunting and have the very real prospect of a move hanging over us, we just don't know when.

    It's not stopping me from writing though! I just have to miss NaNo for another year.



  16. Elle Robb on November 2, 2009 at 8:07 PM

    >I'm doing it – this'll be my 6th yr. The pressure is on – I've won every year. For me, it's the one month I devote myself completely to a new draft. It works well for me – I draft in November, then spend the rest of the year in edit/revise/rewrite mode. I'm heymom1968 on NaNo – feel free to look me up over there.

    Oh, yeah, and I do it 'cause it's fun!!



  17. MisterChris on November 2, 2009 at 8:01 PM

    >Gosh, quite a lot of comments. Bet you knew this post would get a bunch!

    If you even read down this far, this is my second NaNo, and the first was a great success. 55k in 1 month, and I finished the novel in Dec with 98k. It's since been through 4 revisions.

    Since then I've written 2 more 100k sequels, and am 22k into book 4.

    i put book 4 aside for now, because I want to start a new series (YA SciFi) with this NaNo.

    Because the kids want the (22k) book completed by Christmas, I need to get THIS NaNo book done by end of November (100k)

    But I'm clipping along at a good pace – I already have 11000 words down, and a solid chapter-by-chapter plot.

    Sorry, but I didn't have TIME to read everyone's post here, too busy. Got to go write some more!



  18. Jeannie on November 2, 2009 at 7:58 PM

    >I'm not doing it, for the simple reason that my internal editor and I have worked out a deal. I let him have his cracks at that first draft while I'm working on it, and he keeps me from writing myself into corners that will take five times longer to dig out of than if I'd just let I.E. do his job in the first place.

    My I.E. and I are a slow-moving team, but I think I've learned that it's better to move slow than not get there at all.



  19. Kass on November 2, 2009 at 7:54 PM

    >Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Yes.
    What is your goal for the 50,000 words—an entire novel, or half of one? I hope to write a complete novel (or at least the skeleton of it) by 50K words.
    Have you ever done this before? Yes.
    How'd it work for you? I'm currently buckling down and working on revising my 2007 NaNo project. (Well, outside of the month of November anyway.) I wrote the entire novel in 2007 only to back and revise it and realize A LOT of things were missing. Basically I set out to write a shell of a novel in November then go back and fill it in.



  20. Alana, Author of Domestically Challenged on November 2, 2009 at 7:50 PM

    >This is seriously one of the best posts I have seen on writing. I am printing it out and putting it in the front of my writing binder.

    This is my third NaNo and I have to say, I literally didn't think I was capable of writing fiction at all. Nano has given me an inkling of courage to do so, and since I have won and won early both attempts, who knows – maybe I'm onto something. 🙂

    Thanks for the great post!



  21. Erika Robuck on November 2, 2009 at 7:48 PM

    >I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I want to give myself a deadline to finish a novel I'm halfway through, that I've been working on for about a year. I write historical fiction, and I have a tendency to research a subject to death before writing. While this is good (to an extent) it becomes a procrastination/OCD device. NaNoWriMo is forcing me to close the history books and just get down to it. I'm only on day 2 but I'm really glad I signed up.



  22. BJ on November 2, 2009 at 7:29 PM

    >I don't do NaNoWriMo because

    a) it's at a terrible time of year for me — too busy

    b) I'm always revising at this time of year, not drafting

    c) I don't find it difficult to get a lot of words down on paper in a short amount of time.

    And z) Since I draft in longhand, it's hard to keep track of how many words I'm actually drafting. When I type them in, that's more of a second draft than a first, so doesn't really count.



  23. nightwriter on November 2, 2009 at 7:28 PM

    >I'm using NaNo as a way to push myself to take up a WIP–it's already around 30,000 words so 50K would be great. But I'm not making it "official"–just trying to get motivated and take R's advice to write a SECOND novel while the first ms. is making the rounds. I agree with Anon: NaNo obviously favors QUANTITY over QUALITY. Maybe 1% of the finished mss. will ever get published, but it if works, I'm all for it!



  24. christa on November 2, 2009 at 6:45 PM

    >I registered. It may end up being NaNoWriWe [national novel writing week] at the rate I'm going.



  25. Invisible Girl on November 2, 2009 at 6:29 PM

    >I find the writing easy. I love the writing and can get lost in the rhythm of the storytelling. I even love the editing. My problem is tackling the stupid synopsis. I'm pulling my hair out, seriously! The writing, creating, is the easy part. Writing a compact, catchy synopsis to snag an agent's attention is giving me gray hairs and severe bags under my eyes. I believe my problem is I spent too much time reading other author's suggestions on the process and how scary and stressful writing a synopsis can be and I psyched myself out for failure. I've written and rewritten the synopsis for my first novel twice and tossed it in the bin each time. I'm now on my third go round. Any kind words of advice would be greatly appreciated.



  26. Timothy Fish on November 2, 2009 at 6:25 PM

    >Jesterhawk,

    Consider that in everything we do, there are many who can do the rough work, but there are few who are skilled enough to do the detail work. If we were carving cigar store Indians, most of us could cut out something that looks a little like a man, but it takes a skilled artisan to make that rough shape look almost alive. How many of us would use a bandsaw to cut out a rough shape (perhaps, of a duck) and then take that rough block of wood to a skilled craftsman to do the detail work? Suppose we did. Would we then claim to be skilled at carving? Why then would we as writers create the rough shape of a story and then pass it off to an editor with the expectation that the editor will refine it into a bestseller? If the editor knows how to do that, why would he be editing our work and allowing us to stick our name on it? Would he not just write his own story and submit it himself? Editors are great, when you can find a good one, but it is the author who must be the most highly skilled artisan when it comes to the detail work.



  27. Jesterhawk on November 2, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    >Great post.

    I would counter one thing you said and perhaps this is the reason there is such a difference of opinions between writers and agents/publishers. You mentioned that revising and polishing is where the craft happens ("Revisions are when the real crafting happens."). I disagree. Not anyone can tell a story and craft a tale. In fact, this is why there are tons of editors for hire that are willing (for a price of course) to take someone's tale and make it a best seller by just working on the polishing and revising. If they could craft the story then they could make a lot more money by doing so and not working on other people's projects.

    Perhaps that is just my take as a crafter (apparently not a word) of tales but not yet a published author.



  28. Kat Harris on November 2, 2009 at 4:39 PM

    >This is my first Nano in which I am participating, and I'm excited and anxious and about every other emotion one could possibly name.

    I told my husband and daughters about my daily goals during lunch the other day, and my husband said, "That should be easy until about the fifth day."

    I was thinking just the opposite; it's going to be difficult until about the fifth day, when I'm really getting into it.

    Those blank pages can be scary.

    The story that I sat down to write is actually told from two points of view. The first –the one I'm hoping to complete before the end of November — is the mother's point of view, telling why did what she did to mess up her teenage son's life. (He was simply collateral damage. Sad.)

    The other POV — which I will complete later — is the son's, how he finds out what she did, as well as his journey into discovering why.

    I sat down yesterday with the intention of writing something completely different, but this is what manifested. Funny how that happens.



  29. Alexa on November 2, 2009 at 3:58 PM

    >It's my second NaNoWriMo but it's much harder this year as I have a five month old baby, who isn;t keen on napping 🙂 I am much more organized then last year though and have an outline and know where the story is going. So I'm hoping things will even out.



  30. Jeff M. Miller on November 2, 2009 at 3:39 PM

    >I'm participating this year, and I have multiple goals in mind. First, I want to get to the 50,000 word minimum, but I also want to finish the entire novel. I think I've got a good concept this year.

    I've participated in NaNoWriMo a couple of times before, but never finished because I just didn't believe the story was going anywhere. After years of struggling, I think I've gotten my writing process down, and am excited to see what comes from it.



  31. Pegge on November 2, 2009 at 3:26 PM

    >I dared myself to NaNoWriMo, with the intent of discipline, creativity, and accountability. I'm showing up, listening, writing. Definitely 1st draft! 2,500 words on day 1. This is my first year, and I'm curious to discover what emerges. Thank you for your post!



  32. Shauna on November 2, 2009 at 3:09 PM

    >Not doing NaNoWriMo this year, but as someone who has trouble getting my internal editor to shut up long enough for me to get something down, I'm going to write this down and stick it on my computer: "Your best writing will happen in the revision process."



  33. Dana on November 2, 2009 at 3:04 PM

    >Nope, not doing it this year. I did attempt it last year and it ended up making me angry. I don't mind having a word count to try to meet each day, but it's not my favorite thing and honestly it doesn't help to motivate me. I considered doing it this year, but I'm still in the planning stages of my second novel and I don't want to rush it.



  34. Johnnie on November 2, 2009 at 2:58 PM

    >This is my fourth year to participate in NaNo. I tossed out all but about the first 15-20 pages of last year's NaNo project and spent the months since then researching, rewriting, and revising. The manuscript (and my future!) are in a publisher's hands right now.



  35. limabean on November 2, 2009 at 2:56 PM

    >I'm definitely doing it… it'll be great discipline because it's been a long time since I finished a first draft. The "off" switch on that internal editor is cleverly hidden!



  36. Joanne Sher on November 2, 2009 at 2:43 PM

    >Though I have very, VERY seriously considered it, I am not doing NaNo. I am VERY VERY close to having my current WIP ready to send to a professional editor – and I won this edit at half price, and it needs to be redeemed before the year is up (mostly my own deadline, but a bit the editor too). Hope that reason is sufficient 😉

    I AM, however, planning to do it a different year – theoretically next. I'm happily cheering many of my friends on, though.



  37. janetlandis on November 2, 2009 at 2:37 PM

    >I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I'm looking forward to it.



  38. Elizabeth M. Thompson on November 2, 2009 at 2:34 PM

    >Yep, I'm so totally in! This is my first NaNoWriMo experience and so far I'm having fun and writing fast. If you want to buddy me I'm BethThompson. Gotta get back to it….



  39. anaquana on November 2, 2009 at 2:31 PM

    >This is my second year doing NaNo. I wrote almost 25k last year. I'm hoping that I'll do better this year since I'm working on a sequel to an already completed story.

    For those of you, like me, who are constantly distracted by the shinies of the internet, I would suggest you try out Dr. Wicked's Write or Die. I bought the $10 desktop application, but there is a free online app. It has been an absolute lifesaver for me.

    You set yourself a word goal and a time limit. If you pause for too long without making a keystroke, it has different punishments depending on what setting you choose. The worst punishment starts deleting words on you!



  40. Amalia T. on November 2, 2009 at 2:25 PM

    >I'm taking part in NaNoWriMo, and my goal is to average about 5K a day until the book is done–which will hopefully finish me up before Thanksgiving, so I can go spend a week with my family without feeling novel-guilt.

    I've participated since 2002 to varying degrees of success–there were years I just wasn't committed/had more important things going on in life. Last year I ended up with a decent draft of something that could be good, but wasn't the way it had been written. I let it rest and went back to it in March and rewrote the entire thing from the point of view of a different character. Now I actually think it's marketable–four revisions after that first overhaul in March!

    I'll be happy if I come away with a similar draft situation this year too!



  41. Need More Words on November 2, 2009 at 2:25 PM

    >This is my second year of NaNo. Last year I had just begun writing and I challenged myself to see if I could actually write a novel. I was able to put over 84,000 words down in the 30 days. I did not come to the end of my novel and I have not gone back to it. Someday perhaps I will drag it out and see if anything can be made of it.
    Thank you for the wonderful advice in this post. One of the first things you said was what are you doing reading blogs. I am asking myself that right now. I will have to cut myself off from these but it is hard. These bloggers become your friends and you don't want to ignore them. Guess I just need to go cold turkey. I will post on my blog that I will be gone for Nov. Now to follow through on that. 🙂
    Diane



  42. jessicavarin on November 2, 2009 at 2:09 PM

    >I am participating as a NaNoRebel. I'm writing and revising 30 poems in 30 days. So far so good.



  43. Reesha on November 2, 2009 at 1:32 PM

    >I'm participating!!!
    My goal = 50k words on one book and 50k on another. That's right. I'm trying to write 100k words. Not out of hubris mind you, but it's what profits me the most right now. I fully expect I will not complete such a goal.

    I did NaNoWriMo last year but didn't win. Got to 30k. But I practiced since then by participating in JuJu: June and July writing thing on another blog. I was able to get 60k words there so I'm hoping this year I can stretch even further.



  44. Debbie Maxwell Allen on November 2, 2009 at 1:22 PM

    >Anonymous said…
    Q: Just wondered how many folks get their (revised) NaNo mss. eventually published? Anyone out there with a success story?

    I don't know if Sarah Gruen's "Water for Elephants" started during Nanowrimo, but she's been a frequent participant.



  45. Mo on November 2, 2009 at 1:16 PM

    >Sounds like I need to jump on the Nanowrimo bandwagon. I've seen the site but didn't join. I'm working on several projects. I want to finish the first, revise and perfect by June.



  46. Elisabeth Black on November 2, 2009 at 1:14 PM

    >Yes, I am participating as a NaNoRebel: I'll be finishing the second half of my WIP, or getting close to the end. I write six days a week anyway, but I thought it would be fun to get involved in something like NaNoWriMo.



  47. Debbie Maxwell Allen on November 2, 2009 at 12:56 PM

    >This is my first Nanowrimo. Since I'm writing YA, the 50K is a good goal, and I can flesh out the first draft in December.

    Each Monday, I'm interviewing a Nanowrimo participant to glean tips on how to make it through the month: http://writingwhilethericeboils.blogspot.com/

    My teen daughters and I are participating together, so we're spurring each other on. One challenge we're adding is that we're committed to at least one period of exercise each day, as well. We took a walk this morning, and used it to brainstorm ideas for our WIP.



  48. Alison on November 2, 2009 at 12:51 PM

    >This is my fifth year doing NaNo. This time, I'm working on adding words to the novel I've been working on for a while. The need to "win" NaNo tends to make me very disciplined about writing every day and sitting still to get a good chunk of words down. I know I'm going to need to heavily edit the words I get out of NaNo in December, but at least I'll have words to edit and revise.



  49. Aubrey on November 2, 2009 at 12:29 PM

    >This is my first NaNoWriMo! I have written five books– three are published. But I've been going through a patch of writer's block with my current manuscript, so I'm putting it aside to see if I can get into the habit of writing everyday again. At this point, I'm looking forward to writing anything, even if it is crap! 🙂



  50. Joylene Nowell Butler on November 2, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    >Every year I say I'm going to participate and every year something happens to stop me. Last year I swore I didn't care what it was, I was doing Nanowrimo.

    My 93 yr old MIL lives with us and on Saturday, she fell. She's now laid up in bed, unable to even get to the washroom on her own.

    Next year.

    Meanwhile, way to go all you NanoS. Go get 'em!



  51. AmyBoucherPye on November 2, 2009 at 12:26 PM

    >Off topic, just wanted to say thanks for your blog, Rachelle. I've just passed it along a wanna-be writer asking for advice as a must-read; how wonderful that you have so much here for writers of all ilks.



  52. Liesl on November 2, 2009 at 12:14 PM

    >I've participated in Nanowrimo before and I had a blast. The end-product will forever remain in a drawer though.

    I'm not doing it this year simply because I'm on a roll revising my WIP and I don't want to break that up.

    But I cheer all Wrimos.



  53. wonderer on November 2, 2009 at 12:10 PM

    >This is my fifth year of doing NaNo. My first year was the first time I finished a novel after being derailed by university (studying English lit and writing genre didn't mix well, for me anyway). After that, I was hooked.

    NaNo has become my favourite way to get through a first draft. I tend to write short, skeletal first drafts and then expand them in editing, so I'm not bothered by the fact that 50,000 words does not a novel make. I'm still editing my 2006 NaNo novel and intend to go back to my 2007 and 2008 drafts as well.

    Best of luck to all you first-timers!



  54. Lindsey Himmler on November 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    >I love, love, love Nanowrimo time.

    That being said, I tried to time my work this year so I would be ready to start my rough draft on Nov 1. I'm not exactly prepared, but it'll be fun to see what happens when I get to where my outline stops!

    I want to push myself beyond 50,000 words. I'd love to have a finished rough draft in the area of 80,000 words, but…we'll see how things go!



  55. Emma on November 2, 2009 at 12:00 PM

    >I am Nanoing this year, my very first time.

    I decided to do it so that I could get in the habit of having time carved out exclusively for writing, and also so that I could get an appallingly bad first draft out of the way as quickly as possible.

    I often find myself stalling at a certain point in the writing process, and I'm really eager to make it past that point this time.

    So far it has already had positive results – On Saturday I finally revamped our office/studio room (shared with my husband, we are both musicians) completely. I had a huge clear-out and rearranged the furniture so that it is no longer a room that I shudder and shut the door on, but an inviting den of creativity for both of us!

    Good luck to the other NaNoWriMo's out there!



  56. Debbie (Nerd Goddess) on November 2, 2009 at 11:53 AM

    >I did NanoWrimo in 2006 and 2007. Last year I skipped out because I was getting married in December, and I figured trying to write a novel the month before I got married was a really bad idea.

    My first year I ended up slacking off the first three weeks and wrote 35,000 words in the last week. In 2007 I wrote 2,000 words a day and was really happy I did that almost every day.

    This year I'm not participating, partly because I realize that if it's not me that's pushing myself I'm never going to be a writer who writes regularly. I also have realized that when I'm writing that fast I don't give myself time to digest the story, the characters, or what I want to have happen next. Instead I get overly focused on words and the draft comes out sounding terrible. So I think I'm just going to keep focusing on writing a rough draft on my own and having it be at least a little better than my Nanowrimo ones.



  57. Anonymous on November 2, 2009 at 11:30 AM

    >Q: Just wondered how many folks get their (revised) NaNo mss. eventually published? Anyone out there with a success story?



  58. lynnrush on November 2, 2009 at 11:30 AM

    >HI! Great post. I'm doing Nano for the first time. I'm writing a sequel to a Young Adult novel I wrote last February. When I do first drafts, they are usually around 65-70k, then through the fleshing out, they hover around 80k words. So, we'll see how far I get during this Nano event. I's so exciting!



  59. Yvette Davis on November 2, 2009 at 11:29 AM

    >I did it last year and am participating again this year. I have decided to rework a WIP or possibly more than one. Here's hoping I learn much from the process!



  60. Alicia on November 2, 2009 at 11:26 AM

    >This is my first NaNoWriMo. I've plotted out my entire project and hoping that I will have at least the major arc completed with the 50K word count.

    While I was writing yesterday, I already know that I will need to flesh out a lot in certain places while simplifying in others. That will happen sometime in 2010. (Ack, 2010.)



  61. Paul Greci on November 2, 2009 at 11:23 AM

    >I'm not participating in NaNo. I'm doing a final edit on a novel that will be out on submission soon and I am in the middle of a big revision of a WIP.



  62. Erica Vetsch on November 2, 2009 at 11:22 AM

    >This is my third year for doing NaNo. The first year I went in with no clear plan and flamed out somewhere around 30K words.

    Last year I wrote a contracted novel for NaNo. It was so hard not to edit as I went, but after awhile, I got the hang of it.

    At our local NaNo kickoff party we did a silly little exercise. On a 3×5 card, everyone colored a picture of their inner editor. Then we locked that picture up in a security envelope and labeled it "Do not open until Dec. 1st"

    I kept that envelope beside my computer, and each time I was tempted to edit during NaNo, I would remind myself the editor was locked up.

    Once, when the muffled screams from the envelope got to be too much, I put him in a drawer. 🙂



  63. DCS on November 2, 2009 at 11:21 AM

    >This year I'm not participating, or at least not expecting to create 50,000 words in my WIP. Two years ago, I did and the experience was great in that I realized that I really could write a book length work. The pacing became somewhat frenetic and when I finally reached the editing phase I had to change a lot. Now that I've got a project going I know I can finish it and maybe not have quite as much work to do in the revision phase. I recommend NaNoWriMo to anyone who wants to get a foothold in the writing life.



  64. T. Anne on November 2, 2009 at 11:12 AM

    >I'm partaking in the madness and to be truthful I'm pretty prolific anyway so it's not too far a stretch. The reason? I've honed the ability to turn off the self editor for the first draft. I realize the scene will change in later drafts and except the fact this is still a moldable work. It really helps with stream of conscience and getting all the info down in a reasonable amount of time, while maintaining word count goals.

    The novel I'm working on will have to be longer than 50K, but what a great start, don't you think? Have a great day!



  65. WindyA on November 2, 2009 at 11:01 AM

    >Yep, I'm all in for Nano. This is my first year participating and I'm still a bit anxious to see how I come out in the end, but I know I'm pretty wordy so there's no way I'll be able to have a complete novel by the end of the month. My goal is to build the strawman of my project done. It's been a completely new experience for me, trying to plan something out because I've always been a strictly from the hip writer. *raises cup of tea* so here's to Nano success to everyone participating! See you at the finish line!



  66. Kristi Faith on November 2, 2009 at 10:56 AM

    >Heck yeah, I'm doing it all 🙂
    I'm so excited to be doing Nano this year, I learned about it at the end of November last year, and have been waiting ever since. I love your tips! My goal is an entire novel, YA, no matter how many words. So far, I'm ahead of the word count goal, so I reward myself with internet and blog time. Or time on other WIP's. I have an incredibly supportive husband that is helping me with three kids. I have two awesome girls that help with the baby and stay pretty well behaved. That said, it's not perfect, believe me!! I'm not so naieve, we are only two days into the month. LOL I'm also very lucky to be a stay at home mom right now.

    Good luck to all!! My writing time begins in ten minutes. 🙂



  67. Nik's Desk on November 2, 2009 at 10:54 AM

    >Yes, I'm doing NaNoWriMo again this year, and again I'm sort of tweaking the rules a bit by working on an existing project instead of something new. Last year, the goal was just to write each day, forgetting the whole word count thing. I succeeded in writing 5 chapters and finished the second third of the book as well. This year, I'm hoping to hit that word count *and* finish the first draft of the novel by November 30. So far, I'm over the minimum word count for Day 1. I'm excited!



  68. JenE on November 2, 2009 at 10:45 AM

    >This is my first year to try NaNo. I don't expect to finish a novel in one month, but I do hope to reach the 50,000 word mark.

    I think more importantly the experience will help me learn to just get the words down without stopping to edit as I go.

    Good luck NaNoers!



  69. Zombie Joe on November 2, 2009 at 10:45 AM

    >This is Year Three for me. I am so far at 50%. My one "win" is something that is sitting and may be trimmed to a short story.

    This year I am writing something in the past history of a current WIP (in revision 3). My goal for this year is probably around 75k instead of the 50k they ask for. I figure that will give me enough to revise it up to 90 to 100k in draft two.

    After our Launch Party I am sitting at just over 4000.



  70. Peggy on November 2, 2009 at 10:43 AM

    >Thanks for the encouragement, Rachelle! This is my third NANo and I've reached 50,000 words the past two years. Both years I spent the next 11 months completing and revising and wound up with approximately 85,000 words for each novel.

    My goal this year is the same–to end November with a VERY ROUGH first draft and spend the next year completing and revising it.

    The reason I love NaNo is because that's a first draft I wouldn't have otherwise! There's something about doing it with so many people working and encouraging each other that makes it seem possible.



  71. Ann on November 2, 2009 at 10:40 AM

    >I'm an unofficial NaNoRebel this year. Last year I participated for the first time, and ended up with a 62,000-word first draft. I tried revising it in May, but kept grappling with structural points and ended up letting it sit for another six months. I started again at the beginning with revisions yesterday, and in two days have gotten twice as far as I did in May. So, yay! I think it's a fantastic idea, and hope to participate again next year, but I've got to get this story to my satisfaction before I can start on another one.



  72. Ann on November 2, 2009 at 10:40 AM

    >I'm an unofficial NaNoRebel this year. Last year I participated for the first time, and ended up with a 62,000-word first draft. I tried revising it in May, but kept grappling with structural points and ended up letting it sit for another six months. I started again at the beginning with revisions yesterday, and in two days have gotten twice as far as I did in May. So, yay! I think it's a fantastic idea, and hope to participate again next year, but I've got to get this story to my satisfaction before I can start on another one.



  73. Denise on November 2, 2009 at 10:35 AM

    >This is my first attempt at NaNoWriMo and my first novel. My goal is 50,000 words but I know that it's not near enough words to finish my book. I'm at 6000 and barely made a dent in the story. According to Nano I should be 10% done.



  74. Angelia Almos on November 2, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    >My first NaNo year I wrote a romance and hit the 50,000K goal. It actually taught me a lot. Like I could write a beginning, middle, and end. I tried NaNo the next year, but just couldn't get into the flow and decided to quit. I skipped a year and then used NaNo to finish a current WIP – totally against the rules – but it worked and I finished my WIP. So, here I am again. This time rewriting an idea I had a while ago.



  75. Surya on November 2, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    >Have always wanted to join, but never could before. This time I decided to go for it, even though I am still working on revisions on an earlier one.

    It helps me to get the first draft out while I am "writing with others" – the focus on word count keeps me from editing. And the goal is to write 50,000 words of a new project – by then, I will hopefully be sufficiently into it to finish later by myself.



  76. AM on November 2, 2009 at 10:33 AM

    >Writing the first draft is not an issue for me. I wrote my first 296,000-word draft in three months. (My internal editor died of a heart attack at the breakneck speed, so he had nothing to say.)

    Next, and far more difficult, I had to split the story up into a series. The first novel came in at 158,000 words. I was forced to 'murder my darlings’ through multiple revisions. I took out characters and entire storylines before I got the word count down to 132,000.

    Then I had to edit. Editing was the most illuminating step in the entire process. I removed adverbs, repeat phrases, empty dialog, and so on. The novel’s word count is down to a respectable 108,000 words, and I have begun the second novel in the series.

    I’ve decided to wait until my second and perhaps, even my third, novel is complete before I search for an agent. The second novel is already well underway, and I am refining my methods.

    You are right, based on our individual strengths and weaknesses, we have to develop our own unique methods and strategies. For instance, I’ve already learned that I don’t want to create anymore mountains that I have to make into mole hills.

    I appreciate blogs like yours, where posting forces me to actually think about the writing process … and to learn.



  77. Dara on November 2, 2009 at 10:31 AM

    >It's my third year participating and I made the goal of 50K the last two years. Of course, it was the same novel, but two different halves of it 😛

    I like to try and get as much as I can in for my novel during November, even though I know I probably won't finish the first draft in the month. I try and write at least 2K a day. I'm trying to do a little more than that this year because I'd really like to hit 80K during the month (and actually finish the first draft) but I'm not stressing about it. I've given myself an overall first draft finish deadline, which is the first of the new year.



  78. J.R. Hetrick on November 2, 2009 at 10:30 AM

    >Funny, I'm 15,000 words into a rough draft. Stuck, fumbling with what to do next.

    What did I do? I popped onto the internet! Thank goodness your post was the first thing I read.

    Perfect. Disabling the internet. Back to writing. Forward, forward, forward.

    Thank you Rachelle



  79. Nita on November 2, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    >This will be my third NaNo. While every month could be called "novel writing month" for me, I love the camaraderie and structure of NaNo. I meet other writers in my area and on-line. We cheer each other on and stay in touch long after November.



  80. K.C. Collins on November 2, 2009 at 10:27 AM

    >I'm participating in my first NaNoWriMo, but this is my second attempt at a novel.

    I recently finished my first first draft, and it's sitting in the hopper marinating so I can get a fresh set of eyes on it in a few weeks.

    So right now, it's full steam ahead! "At least 2k per day" is my motto, and that should get me to the 50k word goal soon enough.



  81. lissa on November 2, 2009 at 10:26 AM

    >I am participating in NaNoWriMo. It's the second year I've done it. I don't believe I have family coming for Thanksgiving this year, so, I should actually be able to do it from start to finish. It didn't work so well last year with a houseful and with being gone all day a few days for shopping.

    I love the challenge of 50K in 30 days.

    My goal…to prove to myself I can do it, and to make my editor happy with a new submission.



  82. Liberty Speidel on November 2, 2009 at 10:24 AM

    >Rachelle, I'm doing NaNo for the first time this year, after having written several other novels in the past.

    My goal isn't for my novel to fit in 50K words… This is just the beginning of the book, maybe the first 2/3 or so. Most of my projects hit over the 80K mark. Plus, I realize it'll need a BUNCH of revision–I can already see it, since my character launched into a bit of backstory in the initial pages.

    I think I'm going to have a problem finding a place to market this one, though, when I get it done. It's going to have a Christian twist, but the story is really a cross between 'The Incredibles' and J.D. Robb's In Death series…



  83. Marla Taviano on November 2, 2009 at 10:22 AM

    >Not only did I take NaNo time to read this post, I plan to come back and read it again!

    This is my first year doing it. I have 4 published non-fiction books and have been dying to give fiction a try. Getting my feet wet with NaNo.

    My awesome agent, RG, and my awesome husband, GT, both encouraged me to give it a shot. So thankful for the support.

    I have 3100 words written so far, and I'm loving it. My lofty goal? Write a 100,000 word novel by Nov. 30.

    I'm blogging about NaNo every day at MarlaTaviano.com and I'd love to connect with other NaNo folks.

    I'm marlataviano on twitter, and that's my NaNo user name too.

    Looking forward to meeting you! (why do I feel like I just wrote a bio for a dating service?)



  84. Matilda McCloud on November 2, 2009 at 10:20 AM

    >I'm participating, for the first time. I have written 20,000 words of a new novel and I'm using NaNo to discipline myself to work on this WIP every day. I'm also using it to loosen up a bit in my writing. Thanks for this post!



  85. Megan DiMaria on November 2, 2009 at 10:18 AM

    >I'm doing the challenge for the first time, but I'm having an awful time squelching my inner editor. I just can't get her to shut up and leave me alone, but it might work out anyway. Even with all her ranting and editing yesterday I was able to write 2,000+ words.



  86. Bex and the Bookends on November 2, 2009 at 10:16 AM

    >I just signed up as a NaNoRebel to try to finish a first draft of the novel I've been wanting to write for over a year.

    I am hoping the word count push will help me turn off my editor and get the story down for once. Usually I end up wandering off from writing to do more research or edit what I've already written.

    Being mostly tied to a voice-to-text system for writing doesn't help, because I have to keep correcting wrong words and stupid punctuation.



  87. Scott Kessman on November 2, 2009 at 10:15 AM

    >Great batch of tips, good on motivation as well. Wasn't going to participate, but then figured it would be a good way to discipline myself to write as much as I can. Only two days in and I've already got a great start, so I foresee good results!

    Not sure if what I write will reach 50,000, or extend far beyond that, but if it's a good story, who cares?!



  88. Jennifer White on November 2, 2009 at 10:06 AM

    >I'm not NaNo-ing this year, but I did last year and it was great! I set the first draft aside for almost a year and am just now getting back to it with revisions. I have a great online group of friends who tell me the honest truth and have been a tremendous help with the whole process.

    Good luck to everyone participating this year!



  89. Kristen Torres-Toro on November 2, 2009 at 10:04 AM

    >Hi, Rachelle!

    I definitely edit as I write, which is a habit I'm trying to break.

    I'm not doing NaNo this year because I don't think I can put forth full effort into it. I know I won't be able to write everyday. I am committing to editing/writing as much as possible, but there isn't a set goal for every day.



  90. Dee Yoder on November 2, 2009 at 9:53 AM

    >This is my third year in NaNo. I didn't reach 50,000 words the first year, but the second year jump-started my first novel. It's in the revision stage and I'm participating in NaNo again. I love that those first 50,000 words are a great start on my new WIP. And, this year, the book is totally different from the Amish story that was inspired by my ex-Amish friends last year. I love NaNo! It gives me the notion that I CAN write an entire novel.



  91. arlee bird on November 2, 2009 at 9:51 AM

    >I'm doing the NaNo thing for the first time. I've dreamed of writing a novel for over 40 years and now's the excuse to just do it. Totally starting from scratch here from the first day, and had plenty of distractions on day one that kept me at 1500 wds. with no clear plot in mind, but an opening that I think seems intriguing. I'm really winging it. Also plan to post a blog entry every day. And I'll even read your blog each day. I'm going to try to go on as normal except with a daily injection of NaNo time and we'll see how it works.



  92. Michelle on November 2, 2009 at 9:44 AM

    >Perfect timing for me. I spent October outlining Novel #3. Last week I started writing with the goal of 2000 words per day which will allow me to finish it before Christmas. At this rate I should have 60000 words by Nov. 31st (70000+ if you include the 10000+ I wrote last week, and believe me, I'm counting it).



  93. Cassandra on November 2, 2009 at 9:35 AM

    >Great post! Thanks for the timely post.

    I'm doing Nano this year. It's my fourth attempt (with two incomplete years and one win). I'm aiming for at least 50,000 words even if the novel isn't finished. I'm also aiming to write something that can be rewritten or edited. The one year I won Nano, my novel was so bad that I trashed it rather than try to redeem it. This year I have the entire basic plot mapped out but I'm really shaky on characters. I'm hoping to find my character's voices over the next 30 days and then rewrite the novel to make everything match.

    4,000 words done so far!



  94. Sarah Forgrave on November 2, 2009 at 9:35 AM

    >I'm not participating in NaNoWriMo due to November being an insane month for my family. I'd love to do my own NaNo in January or February though. What would that make it…NaJanWriMo or NaFebWriMo?



  95. Scobberlotcher on November 2, 2009 at 9:33 AM

    >This is my third year to participate in NaNoWriMo. I completed the challenge the last 2 years and it has served as great writing practice. I've worked over last years' novel to a point where I now wouldn't be mortified if someone read it. 🙂 This year, I decided to experiment by writing my own version of a very famous book. So far, so good!

    Good luck to all the other NaNo'ers!



  96. Suzie F. on November 2, 2009 at 9:31 AM

    >I participated in NaNo last year for the first time to see how much I could write when I made it my complete focus. Although I knew starting in that I wouldn't reach 50,000, I did write more than I ever had before and was proud of my end result. Like others, I learned how to shut off my internal editor and focus on the writing.

    I'm not doing an official NaNo this year; more of a pseudonano, I call it. I'm still trying to listen to my MC to get the right voice and my outline isn't ready. Starting a NaNo at this point would only be setting myself up for failure.

    Once I'm ready, hopefully by the end of the week, I intend to push myself daily. Good luck to all who are participating this year!



  97. CKHB on November 2, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    >Oh, and I'm CKHB over there, too, if anyone wants to buddy me!



  98. mand on November 2, 2009 at 9:27 AM

    >I suspect i'll NaNoWriMo in the future, but this isn't my year for it. In my current state of health (which is usually all that interrupts my uninterrupted time) it took me months to get to 50,000 with my current Big Project. Also, i've been using the travel-hopefully method and i don't think i could do the intense November of Nano without a much clearer structure.

    As for your question, Rachelle, i would aim for publishing (ie submitting) about 100,000 words, and on my short-story track record that will mean a first draft of more like 150,000 or even 200,000. So no, the Nano target would barely be a half-book for me.

    Thanx for another useful post. I'd already bookmarked your 'Prepare for success' post – and Natalie Whipple's is great, especially the bit about seeing off the Inner Editor!



  99. CKHB on November 2, 2009 at 9:26 AM

    >I love NaNoWriMo. I've been doing it since 2005, and my 2005 NaNo project was submitted to agents this year (see? LOTS of editing time in between first draft and querying).

    I hope to get 1/2 of a novel written this November, with a clear(ish) idea of where the other half is going to go.

    Logging off is HARD. Okay, okay, I'm going…



  100. Cindy on November 2, 2009 at 9:16 AM

    >My biggest challenge is turning off my self-editor for that first draft.

    I am participating in NaNo for the first time this year, though, and it's become a necessity. The 50,000 mark will probably be a little over half-way through my novel, as I'm pretty certain this manuscript will end up over 90,000 words. We'll see. All the best to everyone participating or working on a novel outside of NaNo!



  101. Lisa Jordan on November 2, 2009 at 8:55 AM

    >I think this is my sixth Nano. After completing the first one, hubby bought me a laptop since I appeared to be serious about this writing business. Plus, I tend to be selfish when it comes to the computer. 🙂

    I'm working on the rough draft of the second book in my current short contemporary series. My goal is 1700 words daily, which I can do 15 minutes at a time. I set my kitchen timer for 15 and see how many words I can put down. It becomes a contest of sorts. I can usually meet my goal in 90 minutes or less.

    I work at home, so I can throw dinner in the Crock Pot and write during nap time.

    My biggest challenge this month, though, is trying to finish the revisions for a requested full. So I'm working with one story line, and then turning it off to begin another.



  102. Patience-please on November 2, 2009 at 8:55 AM

    >Good luck to all the NaNoWriMo writers! I started my novel in NaNoWriMo and I'm using this November to finish the revisions. So (she says, selfishly) I hope you'll continue this thread with thoughts about revisions.



  103. Simon C. Larter on November 2, 2009 at 8:37 AM

    >I'm not doing it. The main reason is that the kids are 4, 2-1/2, and 3 mos. The other main reason is that the kids are 4, 2-1/2, and 3 mos. Most of the rest of the reasons are similar.

    But I am being inspired by all this Nano stuff on Twitter and the blogs I follow. I've resolved that this is the month I start a novel, regardless of the word count come the 30th.



  104. Ian on November 2, 2009 at 8:36 AM

    >Thanks for the tips!
    First time NaNo'er and I'm using it to start my second novel (the first is still in second draft stage). I'm hoping to get this fantasy one halfway at 50k by the end, the plot gods be willing.
    Good luck all.



  105. Rowenna on November 2, 2009 at 8:30 AM

    >I'm not nano-ing this year–I just started querying on my first project, so that's taking up some time. And though I'd love to give it a try one year, I really tend not to crank out a first draft as NaNo requires–I'm a slower writer, and I prefer to revise as I write (slower up front, but the revision process takes much less time), so I'm not sure that 50,000 words would ever be a realistic goal for me. Still, would be an interesting experiment! I might just make November a focus-on-writing month and see just how much I can get done on my new project.



  106. Marybeth Poppins on November 2, 2009 at 8:29 AM

    >First NaNoWriMo…pretty excited 🙂

    Time to go put handcuffs on my little self-editor and get to work.



  107. Sandie Bricker on November 2, 2009 at 8:20 AM

    >I've always been curious about the NaNoWriMo, but I've never had the time/opportunity to enlist. Just yesterday, I completed the final draft of the novel that was due to my publisher today, and I scrambled to get there. I'm thinking I'll put my feet up, sit back, relax and let all of you do the work this holiday season. 🙂

    LOVED the tips from you, Rachelle. If I can just echo the part about making writing time, I encourage you all to do whatever it takes to make sure that happens. I work a full-time "day job," so weekends are pretty much all I've had for writing time. Consequently, for two months, I've set the alarm for 6:30 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday, and wrote until well into the evenings. What this means is that the rest of the world … those things that are normally taken care of on the weekends … have just been piling up. And I've had to let them. Not an easy task for a girl like me. But now I have met my deadline, still have my day job, and I can dive into that mountain of backlog.



  108. Jim_Wisneski on November 2, 2009 at 8:04 AM

    >This is my first NaNoWriMo – my goal is simply 50,000 words. Whatever that brings me I will know at the end of November. I'm hoping it will be a good start on a good novel in which I can dig into the story and provide more or extend it out – who knows.

    I did this thing all blind. I had two pages of notes going into yesterday and that's it. So far, yes I know it's only day two, so good. I'm up over the 2,000 word mark. . . just have to keep it up!

    Jim



  109. Rachel on November 2, 2009 at 7:53 AM

    >I just finished Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird, and her advice to 'write a shitty first draft' really resonated with me. I'm trying NaNo for the first time. I get really bogged down with editing as I go, and it both stifles my creativity and slows me down.



  110. Emily Ashton on November 2, 2009 at 7:46 AM

    >This is my first year participating in NaNo. I was so excited when I heard about it. I can wrap up the story in 50,000 words but, I am using it as a framework. For now,I am leaving notes to myself, such as (write description of car here). It is a freeing activity to just get the story out like you would if you were telling it to a friend, then go back and revise it.

    I work full time (not as a writer) and have two early elementary age children. My husband is very supportive. I write after the kids are in bed.

    I totally agree with you about turning off the internet. I realized yesterday I was writing a few paragraphs…checking facebook…writing a few paragraphs…checking email. I know I would be much further in my manuscript if I had turned off my wireless card!

    Happy writing everyone!



  111. Krista Phillips on November 2, 2009 at 7:45 AM

    >I don't participate in nano because November- January are brutal for me at work. I'd be completely out of my mind if I tried to write a book in the month of November. (Thinking back, though, I wrote the last part of my first book in Nov… but I was doing a lot of traveling for work that year and it's AMAZING how much writing you get done in a hotel vs. at home with screaming kids!)

    That said, our local group devoted October to be our writing marathon month. While I didn't get 50k words done, I clocked in about 23k, which I was super proud of considering I DO work full time and have small 3 kiddos.

    Another reason I'm not doing nano is because I'm at the very END of my second book, not in the spot to start another. I'm going to knock out the last 9k or so words this week and set it aside for a few weeks, then WOOHOO editing, here I come! *groan*

    But… that said… I do have book 2 of my other series to work on… it's going to be OH so hard not to pick it back up! I might let myself splurge… just a little!



  112. Gamer Girl on November 2, 2009 at 7:40 AM

    >It's my fourth Nano.

    I'm trying to get at least a rough from start to finish that I can expand upon.

    It'll probably be about a third of a book that will need help, but if I can at least get it down, it's better than nothing at all.



  113. Katy McKenna on November 2, 2009 at 7:37 AM

    >I am participating in NaNo for the third time since 2001. (I did arrive at 50,000 horrible assembled words the previous two times.) But I'm not signing up on the site, so won't be commiserating with the other writers. That part is too much of a distraction for me. I've got a novel well-plotted (I think…) and am hoping to get the bones down in November. Hope everyone benefits from the experience!



  114. Sarah on November 2, 2009 at 7:23 AM

    >I'm participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time this year- and I'm using it to finish a WIP.

    I need it. I'm the person who loves to revise, and agonizes over first drafts. I can't say how many times I had to stop myself from editing or over thinking yesterday. It was good to just concentrate on getting the words down on paper.



  115. Aimee States on November 2, 2009 at 7:22 AM

    >I clocked 8500 words on my NaNo novel yesterday. You know, it's funny what happens with time. When I first heard of NaNo, before I started writing, I thought 1,667 words a day was astronomical.

    Not so much.

    But 50K is a great goal for a lot of people, and I love the enthusiasm.



  116. Maya / מיה on November 2, 2009 at 6:47 AM

    >Did it before, doing it again.

    My last novel was a great experience, but in the process of revising it I ultimately decided that it wasn't a strong enough frame to hold a better story. (I got the idea for it on Oct. 31, so I guess that figures!) Still, the whole experience was empowering, and when I look back at that draft, I'm usually pleasantly surprised that it isn't all that bad.

    I've spent all summer conducting research for my new one, and I'm about 15,000 words in already. (I'll write up to 65,000 words in November.) I was falling into the trap of revising those 15,000 words too much as I went, though, so I appreciate the discipline of just WRITING that NaNoWriMo brings. I still won't be done at the end of November, but I'll be on the home stretch.

    Thanks for the tips! I appreciate you addressing NaNoWriMo from an agent's perspective!



  117. Timothy Fish on November 2, 2009 at 6:19 AM

    >I'm not participating. I've got too much important stuff going on and I just finished a second draft of my WIP, so my writing activities are devoted to it. I will say, however, that I once looked at what it would take to go from a blank page to a fourth draft of a 80,000+ word novel in one month. If writing were my full-time job, I could do it, but with a job taking so much time out of the day and other commitments, there's no way.



  118. Katie Ganshert on November 2, 2009 at 5:58 AM

    >This was such a timely post and such an answer to prayer!

    I'm in the midst of writing my 4th story right now and I tend to get a little angsty during the rough draft. Because I don't allow myself to edit, I get very anxious about how horrible my writing is. I always reach this point where I think, "How in the world did I ever craft a story I could be proud of last time?"

    "Your best writing will happen in the revision process" Those words are so true and such a great reminder to me. I can pound out a rough draft at a pretty decent rate. It's the revisions that take forever. It's the revisions where my writing comes to life. I might spend a few months writing the rough draft, but double or triple that amount of time while revising.

    I'm not participating in NaNo, but I am using this month as an excuse to pound out a lot of wordage.

    I'm just about to start my writing this morning before I go to work. The way I protect this time is by turning off my internet so I don't hear that little twitter sound when somebody Tweets. Oh so tempting!

    Happy Monday! And thanks for calming my angst.



  119. Gwen Stewart on November 2, 2009 at 5:54 AM

    >No, because I need no encouragement to write fast and furious. That's been my MO for two years–I wrote my first novel in ten days over Christmas vacation. It was 65K words. How scary is that? Even scarier, I had no idea what I was doing. None. So it was a BIG scary mess when I read it back. heh.

    So, it's slow down (a little) for me, so I can be more thoughtful. This new draft is going more slowly. I hope to yield better things because of it.



  120. Angie Handley on November 2, 2009 at 5:16 AM

    >This is my fourth year, but I haven't hit 50k in any of them so far.

    However, the first 30k words of my WIP were started in NaNo.

    For a long time I thought I had run out of steam when I ran out of plot. Now I realise it was more that the further into the project I got, the more I started to think 'hey, this could turn into something' and it made me so critical of everything I was about to write that I just stopped.

    Definately agreeing with your point that Now is NOT the time to self-edit!



  121. Lost Wanderer on November 2, 2009 at 5:06 AM

    >This is my first time participating in NaNo, but I have written first drafts before so it's not first time writing.

    I am aiming for a whole first draft between 80K to 90K. Thankfully, 1st of Nov was Sunday and day off from work so I managed to do 8K+.



  122. Wendy on November 2, 2009 at 4:41 AM

    >I'm going for it, WendyPrior if anyone wants to buddy me! The timing happened to be perfect, I've just finished my last revisions on my ms, so I was ready to go.

    I love first drafts, so free and fun, you don't have to worry about what you're writing, its the reward for months of slogging over revisions.

    For YA mine should be around 70k, so I'm aiming for that by the end of the month, or at least 50k of it.

    Oops better go. I should be writing!



  123. Adam Heine on November 2, 2009 at 3:16 AM

    >I've wanted to ever since I first heard of the idea, but life won't allow it. Instead I'm polishing WIP #2.



  124. Amanda Acton on November 2, 2009 at 3:08 AM

    >Well, it's my first NaNo! I'm still new to the writing business and am trying to find a style of working that suits me, so its very much an exploration for me, more than it is a time to get a book out. If it ends up being great and has potential, then awesome! But that isn't really my goal.

    Also, I'm trying a bit of fantasy/humour writing. I have an end point, but quite frankly, have no idea how much stuff needs to, or will happen before that point. So its 50,000 words or however much is needed to get to the end. 😛



  125. Aimee LS on November 2, 2009 at 2:24 AM

    >I would love too – but currently buries in revisions of ms #1 and family (who have been very supportive) are looking forward to getting more of my time over Christmas. I need to get this submission ready. *GROAN* Would have loved to do that. Will look forward to seeing submissions from other bloggers!



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