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Posts tagged ‘NaNoWriMo’

Meme of the Week

Ryan Gosling FTW

If you’re coming to the end of NaNoWriMo or any other herculean creative work this month, a big hug and kiss to you! (From Ryan Gosling, of course.)


Meme of the Week

Ryan Gosling NaNoWriMo

Really, is it possible to see too much of Ryan Gosling during NaNoWriMo? (Rhetorical question, natch.)


Meme of the Week

Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling FTW, whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not, I say!


Meme of the Week

South Park NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo means no editing! Just writing! Remember, you can take care of revisions during NaNoEdMo (March) if you need to 😉


Meme of the Week

Keep Calm and Write 50K

A big salute to everyone who’s embarking on NaNoWriMo today. Woohoo!


Panster versus Plotter

planning_the_journeyDuring November, the interwebs were abuzz with National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), the literary marathon during which participants bang out a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. A debate always emerges during NaNoWriMo, centered on a process question that is relevant to writers and artists alike. Which is better: pantser, or plotter?

A pantser, as the name implies, is one who flies by the seat of his or her pants. No outline, no roadmap, no limits. Pantsers feel constrained by outlines; many say that planning strips away their creative mojo. On the flip side, plotters prefer to know precisely which direction they’re headed in. A plotter novelist might produce a full set of index cards with each scene in bullet points before relaxing into the writing process. Writers in either camp vehemently defend their preferences (just google “pantser versus planner” and see for yourself).

Of course, neither approach is inherently better than the other. You need to do what works best for you. But sometimes we get stuck in what we think we “should” do, or what we learned from a mentor’s example, or what seems more legitimate. When that happens, it can be difficult to adopt the other method, even if it might be to our benefit.

The only way you’ll really know what works best for you is to try both. If the idea of planning your fiction feels frightening, give it a go. You might find inspiration in the clarity that an outline brings. And if you tend to plan the composition of your painting down to the last square centimeter, you might try purely intuitive work and see if that unlocks anything new.

The value of knowing if you’re a pantser or a plotter by nature—or if you fall somewhere in between—is that understanding your authentic process is part of your identity as an artist or writer. The more you understand (and anticipate) how you work, the more confident you become, and the more you are able to invest in your process rather than the outcome.

What works for you? (And if you participated in this year’s NaNoWriMo, hearty congratulations!)

This piece was originally published in Creativity Calling, the newsletter of the Creativity Coaching Association.


Writer’s Block? Meet NaNoWriMo

It’s November 1, which means that thousands of writers around the world are throwing themselves into the month-long writing marathon known as National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. This group of participants — improbable as it might seem — include people with children, people with jobs, and people with far too many other commitments to even consider doing such a thing. They do it anyway. This project has given birth to several New York Times bestsellers, so it’s not just an exercise in frustration. Although it may certainly be that too, as evidenced by a perusal of Instagram photos from Day 1 (a few highlights seen below).

Blocked or not, nothing cures procrastination like a massive deadline and public accountability, both of which NaNoWriMo provides, if you so choose.

(If you’re an artist but would like to take advantage of this kind of inspiration-on-steroids, check out November’s Art Every Day Month, the initiative of Leah Piken Kolidas.)


What is NaNoWriMo, really? Here’s the organization’s press release on this year’s festivities:

If on November 1 you hear furious keyboard pounding echoing around the world, fear not. It is the sound of more than 250,000 people beginning a literary challenge of epic proportions: 30 days, 50,000 words, and one original novel.
Why? Because November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo, the world’s largest writing event and nonprofit literary crusade. Participants pledge to write 50,000 words in a month, starting from scratch and reaching “The End” by November 30. There are no judges, no prizes, and entries are deleted from the server before anyone even reads them.
“NaNoWriMo is the writing world’s version of a marathon,” said Grant Faulkner, executive director of National Novel Writing Month. “Writers exit the month with more than a novel; they’ve experienced a transformative creative journey.” More than 650 regional volunteers in more than 60 countries will hold write-ins, hosting writers in coffee shops, bookstores, and libraries. Write-ins offer a supportive environment and surprisingly effective peer pressure, turning the usually solitary act of writing into a community experience.
“Not only did I write 50,000 words by November 30, I also had cheerleaders from the next block, from across the Atlantic and from NaNoWriMo daily blogs,” said participant Twana Biram. “Imagine getting pep talks through the heavy irony and hilarity of Lemony Snicket, and the clarity and appreciation of fan fiction from Mercedes Lackey.”
With NaNoWriMo’s Young Writers Program, that community crosses age boundaries into K-12 classrooms around the globe. The YWP allows kids and teens to set their own word-count goals, and offers educators high-quality free resources to get nearly 100,000 students writing original, creative works.
Although the event emphasizes creativity and adventure over creating a literary masterpiece, more than 90 novels begun during NaNoWriMo have since been published, including Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, and Cinder by Marissa Meyer, all #1 New York Times Best Sellers.
“You can’t revise what isn’t written yet, right? This novel-in-a-month challenge is such a fantastic way to jump-start your story,” said Lindsey Grant, NaNoWriMo’s Program Director. “Plus it is officially the most fun—and effective—way to shed the constant self-doubts and inner-criticisms and simply pour that story onto the page.”
For more information on National Novel Writing Month, or to speak to NaNoWriMo participants in your area, visit

I’d heart it more if I didn’t have writers block #nanowrimo
Thu, Nov 01 2012 02:31:40

Well this has started well. #book #writing #nanowrimo #sarcasm
Thu, Nov 01 2012 01:37:26

#nanowrimo #writing #nojoke #50kin30days
Thu, Nov 01 2012 02:44:43

Already up and over day 1 goal. Can’t wait to wake up and write more. Goodnight, and good luck. #NaNoWriMo
Thu, Nov 01 2012 02:51:28

Cathy: I must be crazy

At the end of October, an old writing friend e-mailed to ask if I was going to do Nanowrimo again this year.

What I e-mailed back to him I cannot repeat here for the sake of children’s eyes, but it amounted to a firm No Way.

Last year, I drove myself insane. I resented when life took precedence in the form of repeated visits to the pediatrician for infinite reasons including the virus sent from the inferno below that I along with the entire family contracted, amidst the usual mayhem challenges to write that abound around here. I also wrote a whole lot of crap, of which I haven’t opened the document to see the results of and edit. The novel was supposed to take place in Ireland and 31,000 words in, the family was still on the plane from Logan Airport, crossing the Atlantic and playing gin.

I am currently STILL editing the novel I wrote before last year’s Nano, and barely have the time and headspace for that, let alone start another project.

But then I was in the shower one morning — the only time and space I have completely alone to sort out whatever might be going through my head with minimal distraction — and a funny thought occured to me, which included a nonsensical opening novel line I could take in any direction.

And as I said, no, no, no I will not NOT do Nano this year, the idea grew. A plan fell into place.

I couldn’t help it, by the love of all things chocolate with caramel. I have to do it now. But first I am setting some ground rules:

  1. Being likely a children’s novel, I will accept 35K words as a good win if that’s where it seems to end.
  2. I will not make myself crazy if life gets in the way. I have a very full life. I will not resent the vicissitudes and interruptions, because really Nano is an interruption to my everything else. And my everything else is mayhem enough, thank you very much.
  3. As long as it remains fun, is a catalyst for inspiration and I enjoy it, I’m in.
  4. As soon as I break any of the above, and it becomes not fun, I am out.

Inspiration is my game this time, not racing to the finish line.

Call me crazy, but I’m in. How about the rest of you?

[Crossposted from musings in mayhem]

Another mother writer’s NaNoWriMo win

Stephanie Stambaugh, a blogger and writer living in Colorado, is a friend of Studio Mothers via Twitter. I had noted that Stephanie — also a mother of two — successfully completed NaNoWriMo, and I asked her how she pulled off that feat. Stephanie recently posted a blog-post response, which you may enjoy: Finally, My Post-NaNoWriMo Debriefing. Stephanie’s process actually involved her oldest child, and was facilitated by the younger one. I love the concept of working with your children around, rather than working around your children, as in, circumventing an obstracle. The more we can blend creativity and motherhood the more likely we are to feel “whole”; less compartmentalized. This strategy wouldn’t quite translate to parenting toddlers, but at least it gives the mothers of little ones something to look forward to.

An excerpt from Stephanie’s post:

Over the course of the writing month and over the past few weeks I have been asked by numerous people, “How’d you do it? How did you find time to write a novel?” First, It would be easy enough to answer those questions by simply saying I made time to write it because that’s what writers do, they give up their ideas of being in the so called “real world” to sit and hold words in their mind’s eye and in the palm of their hands for hours on end. That’s our job and so that’s what I did, to a point.

What I actually did was give myself permission to do what I wanted to do instead of sabotaging myself by that nagging voice that plagues all writers. You know what it says? It screams out daily at you too, right? It says, ”What’s the point? I’ve got better things to do, don’t I? Besides, it’ll never be published anyway.” Now I am not saying that voice wasn’t lurking out there just outside my door, waiting for me to invite it in. What I am saying is that I nodded my head to its shrill little demanding attitude and then told it politely to go to hell. I made a conscience choice not to let the dirty bugger into my office on November 1st and now that it is December 14th it won’t ever show its sick little face here again if it knows what’s good for it.

But there was also three other things that helped me “do it.” The first was that I had the greatest motivation any writer can have and that motivation was from my teenage son who did NaNoWriMo right along with me. I did not have to force him to do it as I am lucky enough to have given birth to not just one but two kiddos who have a wonderful passion for stories. But when my oldest said he wanted to do NaNoWriMo with me, it gave me more backbone than I knew I had because I stood a little taller and prouder just by his commitment to do it.

Secondly, I could not have done it without the support of my youngest child who kept busy for hours writing his own comic books and playing quietly until his brother and I were finished writing for the day. Then right along with him was my husband who actually didn’t knock on my office door for once. I think he saw that determined look in my eye and actually liked it or maybe he just feared it too like the way the dirty little nagging voice of doubt feared it.

Read the full post here. Congratulations on your accomplishment, Stephanie! We look forward to hearing more from you in future.

NaNoWriMo: After the big finish

The point here is that the bonds formed during NaNoWriMo should continue beyond November — so keep us in the loop, NaNo winners 🙂

Cartoon courtesy Inky Girl — thanks, as always.

Cathy: No Nanowrimo win here

crossposted from musings in mayhem

I am happy to have taken part in NaNoWriMo this year for the first time. It put me into a good lead on a companion book to my first novel, and now both need some serious editing. I lost my momentum between lots of doctor appointments for my whole family, getting quite ill myself and caring for sick kids, then my back went out as we leaned toward Thanksgiving, and I got hung up in word count rather than having fun enjoying writing well.

That last part was what killed the project for me. Not the whole project, I am happy to continue work on this particular piece, but I want to go about it in the way that is familiar to me. I am an editing nightmare to some, but I’ll tell you, that is what I really enjoy about writing as I write, the scribbles and rewording, the back-typing and rewording, the considering of the scene from an entirely different angle, etc. It’s what I enjoy about the middle of breadmaking, too: the kneading, the punching it into form.

I have just a few days left to try to make it to 50,000 words. I am at 19,201 and have my family home, no one at work, no one at school or at senior exercise programs until the thirtieth. I don’t think reaching 50,000 is my personal goal anymore. A children’s novel is typically about 30,000 and I don’t want to just write crap for filler for a contest that has lost meaning for me in it’s final goal. I’ve also lost my thread plotwise and feel like I’m wasting precious word count time doing what I actually love about writing and my process in it. That is indicative that it’s time for me to move on and refocus without the contest looming.

For now, for me, this year 19,201 is a fantastic stopping point. Now I can sink my teeth back into the edits of the first novel and then run right into edits on the second I started because of Nano.

Does this then make me a loser if I am not a Nano winner? Certainly not. I have 19,201 words written that I didn’t have before I started NaNoWriMo. That’s a big win in my book. I’ve never written 19,000 words toward one thing in three weeks time in my whole life, nevermind with a houseful of sickies and also school days off throughout the month.

I may not have hit 50,000, but I did a lot more than I would have if I hadn’t tried.

What IS NaNoWriMo, anyway?

Courtesy Inky Elbows — thanks, Debbie!

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