October 29, 2007 at 8:54 am | Posted in Fast Draft, Jessica, NaNoWriMo, writing | 6 Comments

How’s your inner critic? If she’s as active and well-honed as my own, I am guessing you may struggle with how to be productive without her launching those destructive grenades from atop your left shoulder.

One way to fight back against that critic is to blindly write with reckless abandon . . . with little care for style or form, wit or grace . . . then worry about those much-needed edits once the words are down on paper.

Bria often talks about the Fast Drafting workshops she takes with Candace Havens. Another blitzkreig writing alternative comes around every November . . . the annual juggernaut otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month.

Affectionately called NaNoWriMo, the test is to write a 50,000 word novel throughout the month of November. What started out as a challenge between 20 friends in the Bay Area has turned into a phenomenon that attracts over 60,000 people worldwide. (Update: This year there are over 90,000!)

This writing marathon-sprint was started by Chris Baty, author of the book, No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days.

Participants ‘win’ when they reach the 50,000 word goal by November 30. I did NaNo last year, and although I didn’t ‘win’ I did make some significant progress on my book that I otherwise wouldn’t have achieved. The month-long experience is a tiring, fast-paced race but well worth the exercise for having gone through it.

There is an Excel spreadsheet, created by NaNo participant Erik Benson, that is an amazing tool to help you track your progress throughout the month. If you choose to participate in any writer’s challenge, I highly recommend using this tool. (If you have difficulty linking to this web site, please post a comment here and I will send the file to you as an attachment.)

For more information on NaNo madness, read this interview with Chris or hop on his blog for a while . . . or check out this other blog post that shares insight on the Five Must Have Resources for NaNoWriMo.  This How to Participate in NaNoWriMo wiki is also a good resource.

If you’ve ever struggled with getting your wip off the ground, I recommend giving NaNo a try at least once. It’s crazy, it’s demanding, but it’s a lot of fun.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, starts in three days. Happy NaNo-ing!




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  1. […] wrote an interesting post today on NaNoWriMoHere’s a quick […]

  2. Thanks for the useful link to the progress spreadsheet. I thought I was going to use my 10 year old calculator 🙂 Nano2007 is going to be my first, and I’m looking forward to it 🙂

    Good luck!

  3. Biyang – thank you for stopping by. The spreadsheet is a lifesaver and I hope it helps. Good luck to you, too, with your first NaNo. If time allows, I hope you’ll stop by again and keep us posted on your NaNo progress!

  4. […] you have no idea what I’m talking about, this eccentric word of multiple capitals, please visit Jessica’s blog this week. It’ll explain […]

  5. […] about the prospect of things. Maybe it’s because I’ve been working like a fool on my NaNo pages each day. Maybe it’s because I got some brutal and unexpected closure on a painful […]

  6. Thanks forr the spreadsheet. I’ve been searching everywhere for it and this was the first place that actually had the file. Thanks!

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