Friday, November 3, 2017

Nanowrimo, we meet again!

Posted by: Angela Korra'ti
It’s November again, and you all know what that means: Nanowrimo time is once more upon us!

Every year there’s always a slate of advice posts about how to deal with Nanowrimo; I’ve done a share of those myself. And given that I’m taking another Nano run myself this year, I’m going to do another one. This year, though, I want to take a slightly different slant: that is, to encourage you all to try not to stress out about it if you don’t actually hit the 50,000 words.

For me, this year has been creatively disastrous. I’ve had… not quite writer’s block, really, but more block on general passion for actually writing. I won’t get into discussing the causes for that here, but I will just note that my main goal for Nanowrimo this time is to just remind myself of what it feels like to write every day.

In other words, winning Nanowrimo is nice—but when my actual ultimate goal is to get my next book out the door, it’s more important to me to get my fingers back onto a keyboard on a daily basis. And as any writer who’s released a book knows, the work doesn’t stop at the end of November.

That said, given that this year has been creatively stressful for me, I wanted to share with you the ways I’m going to try to not let “oh shit I didn’t win Nanowrimo” get me down, since it’s actually pretty likely I won’t.

1. Remind myself regularly this month that producing any words is better than producing no words. That daily habit of fingers on keyboard is what I need to restore, here.

2. Remind myself also that I do have a day job. My day job is technically challenging, and my commute is long. So by the time I get home in the evenings, I usually have only a couple of hours tops in which I can get any writing done at all. There are writers who can plunk out 2,000 words in that short a time span. I am not usually one of them. This would be why, at least when I’m up to proper writing speed, my traditional daily word count is 500 words and nothing more, at least during the week.

3. Remember that when I’m creatively stressed, it does not help to get stressed out about that, and throw myself into a feedback loop. This is often easier said than done. Which is what makes it all the more important for me to keep it in mind!

4. Life doesn’t stop when Nanowrimo is happening. See previous commentary re: day job.

See also: Orycon, which I will be attending along with my wife, who will be a panelist there, while I’ll be working with fellow NIWA members to staff our book table in the dealers’ room.

See also: Thanksgiving. Which is a big deal at my house, and we will have guests, and I can’t exactly hide from a house full of a dozen people trying to write. Well… I could, but it would be rude. ;D

5. Remember that while there is a lot of mad appeal in the notion of staying up until stupid-o-clock in the morning trying to write, because several hundred thousand other people on the Internet are doing it and SOLIDARITY, BABY, I’m also not as young as I’d like to be, anymore. Aging is stupid. Particularly when it means that not getting enough sleep means I can’t coherently function at my aforementioned technically challenging day job, or have enough mental energy left over when I get home to write anything more constructive than ‘badger badger badger’.

All in all, my hope here is remind myself of what it feels like to write every day, and to focus less on the drive to hit an arbitrary word count. Since I’m working on Walk the Wards, my forthcoming collection of novellas which was already in progress, it’s also helpful that I’m dealing with several shorter stories rather than one big one. As long as I keep momentum going and hopefully finish this thing off before the end of the year, I’ll fret less about whether that happens specifically on November 30th!

How about the rest of you? Who else is doing Nanowrimo? What do you do to keep the experience sane for you? Commiserate with me in the comments!

Angela (Highland or Korra'ti, depending on which of her books you're reading) is very glad she decided to do those novellas before she does Book 3 of The Free Court of Seattle, because trust her when she says there are things important to Book 3 that need to get laid down in this novella collection first. Come follow her Nanowrimo progress on, Facebook, or Twitter!


  1. I'm a NaNo-er! I look forward to it every year but this year I'm a bit overwhelmed to start and not well prepared so it's going to be especially challenging. Good luck! Any words on the page is a win for me since I've been stalling on this story for months!

    1. Right on and good luck back to you!

      I'm coming into this Nano run with at least one thing in my favor: I'm not actually starting something new, I'm working on the work in progress and I already have a pretty damn good idea of how all of the novellas are going to go at this point. I just have to do the work to _write them_.


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