Saturday, November 9, 2013

NaNoWriMo: Inciting a Rebellion

Posted by: R.L. Naquin
Psst. Hey. Over here. Step into the shadows with me for a moment. That’s right. NaNoWriMo has dark alleys with shifty people like me wiggling their fingers at you to follow them.

We are the NaNo Rebels.

We are the folks with previously written material, so we start NaNo on, say, chapter five and add 50k from there. We are the people who are working on a bunch of short stories that will total 50k. We are poets, autobiographers, essayists, and scriptwriters.

But we’re not cheaters. Honest.

Do you recognize yourself in any of that? It’s okay if you do. The fine folks at the Office of Letters and Light have made provisions for us. They’ve given us the title of Rebel to erase the possibility of feeling like (or being called) a cheater. They even provided a section of the official forum exclusively for Rebels to talk about their awesome rebelliousness.

Myself, I’ve started every NaNo so far with 15-20k already written. The camaraderie and fever of NaNo are fantastic for a procrastinator like me. I know I will get 50-60k written every November, without fail. If I already have 20k written, I can finish November 30th with the words “The End.” And that doesn’t suck. If I go in with nothing, I end with a partial manuscript, and everybody who’d been helping me through November is too burnt out to drag me through the rest of my novel. I’ll be on my own like I am the rest of the year. Doing it rebel-style is like getting one free novel every year.

Before my first NaNo, three years ago, I’d never finished a novel before. That’s what NaNo taught me—how to be a finisher. I took that very first book and sold it to Carina Press. “The Phone Call” came in right before my second NaNo, so I wrote the second book in the series.

And last year’s NaNo was crazy. I walked into the kickoff meeting, dazed, with the news that I’d sold the next four books in the series—books I had yet to write. I wrote book three that year, and this year, I’m writing book five. (I had one due in between and had to learn to write a novel without NaNo helping me. That’s another story altogether.)

NaNoWriMo taught me what I needed to know. I’m a finisher now. But I’m not sure I could have learned that lesson if I hadn’t started each November 1st with words already on the page.

We Rebels still have rules. The words written in November are the only words that count toward the 50k. We still validate our work at the end of the month in order to get the nifty certificate. We’re still required to wear underwear on our heads on Thursdays and eat Pixie Stix on bologna sandwiches.

Wait. Those aren’t real rules? I’m gonna kill those guys.

The feeling of accomplishment is no less than it is if we’d started from scratch or written something more in line with the original NaNo intentions. So, if what you’ve been doing feels a little off because you’re not doing it exactly the way everybody around you is, come on over.

Rebels are in the dark corners, getting stuff done. And maybe selling a watch or two from underneath an overcoat.


  1. Hey Rachel - so glad you were able to finish that first book since I love the Monster Haven books! (and that kitty is just adorable).

  2. Thank you so much, Jen. I'm glad you're enjoying them! (And the kitten. Because everything is better with a kitten.)


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