Friday, October 18, 2013

Do You Nano?

November is just about here and with it the annual competition with yourself. There are some pretty good prizes if you win. And the entire event is about you being successful as a writer.

NANOWRIMO. National Novel Writing Month. Every November writers from all over the world compete with themselves to start a novel and get 50,000 words written in the thirty days of the month. Yes, Thanksgiving is in there and all the cooking and family time but it can be done.

NANOWRIMO, or as it’s affectionally referred to as Nano, began with 21 writers getting together in San Francisco in 1999. From that group of 21it has grown into a 501 c3 not-for-profit organization with nine full-time staff who co-ordinate the main event of NANOWRIMO as well as Young Writer Programs and Camp Nano.

The stats for 2012 had 341,375 participants beginning the month. In addition to NANOWRIMO, 82,554 students and educators participated in the Youth Writing Program and during 2013 there were 44,919 campers in the online Camp Nano Retreats. That’s a lot of writing going on.

I’ve participated in two Nanos and completed the goal in each. It can be challenging with life poking its head in when you really want to write. My first year, 2011, was really challenging as I hadn’t been writing very long. I had just met the goal with 51,147 words when my mother-in-law was in a terrible car accident which took the last ten days of the month away. That novel went on to be completed and released in September of 2012 as the second novel in my Cottonwood Series, Lord’s Love.

I made it my goal to be better prepared in my second attempt last year. My research was done ahead and I’d ‘plotted’ out the story, neither of which I had done the previous year. In 2011 I found out about the event three weeks before and was gone for a week during that time.

The first 50K words of Leah’s Peace were written in 11 days. The rest of the month I spent getting ready for the release of Giving Love, Cottonwood Series #2 and the companion to Leah’s Peace in the Stones Creek Series Chasing Norie. Enough with the self promotion.

50,000 words in 30 days sounds like a lot. It is but if you break it down into a daily average it’s only 1,667 words per day. By setting your personal goal at say 2000 you will have plenty of time to finish if you keep at it with some days when life smacks you upside the head and you are unable to write any.

A few of bits of advice:
  1. Warn your family you will be unavailable to settle petty squabbles. No blood, no cops, no problems and you won’t get involved.
  2. You might miss some sporting events (Hey, they’ll live and the world won’t stop turning on its axis.)
  3. Some meals may be peanut butter and jelly or they can cook themselves.
  4. Take October to teach them to do their own laundry. It’s a skill they’ll need in life anyway.
  5. Do whatever fall cleaning you feel absolutely, positively must be done now or let it rest until after the first of the year. Remember December is coming on the heels of NANOWRIMO.
  6. If  you listen to music while you write get your playlist ready now.
  7. Do whatever research you need to do for the story done now. That way you won’t have to stop to look it up.
  8. Make sure you have your computer defragged, de-virused if you run Windows 
  9. THE MOST IMPORTANT have several places for backing up your work.
After you’ve done all that look up Nano Word Warriors on Facebook. We have Word Wars all year but especially during Nano for two seconds of bragging rights for writing the most during an hour Word War. It’s fun and helps us keep motivated and moving the fingers over the keyboard.

So sign up at , and plan, plot or seat of the pants it with us in November.

Sophie Dawson is an award winning author of Christian Fiction. She lives with her husband and cat on a farm in western Illinois. Her characters demonstrate the courage and strength it takes to live in faith and obedience to the Word of God.
Sophie blogs one a week on her website as well as in addition to
She has recently released her fourth and fifth books, Leah’s Peace and Chasing Norie.
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  1. I wish I could say I do NaNo--I used to. Give the Lady a Ride got its start in the competition. But I know I'll never be able to finish a manuscript with this group since November is "hubby's month." What everyone else gets to do in several weeks, I only have two. Sigh.

    Good luck to everyone who participates!

  2. I’ve only recently started aggressively pursuing my passion for writing and, literally days later, heard about and signed up for NaNoWriMo. The entire concept was terrifying at first when I realized that I needed to come up with and outline a story with characters in a couple weeks in order to be ready on time, but I’m sticking with it simply for the motivation to sit down and start fleshing out the stories that have been floating around in my head for years. Even if I don’t “win”, I’m going to be a better writer at the end of the month because of it. Already I’m discovering things about myself and my writing style that I would never have guessed.

    I’m not expecting to finish a full 50,000 words before November 30th and I’m fine with that. Learning to walk away from the computer and write with a pen and paper (gasp!) instead of Microsoft Word so that I don’t play Starcraft 2 all night or finding ways to turn off my inner-editor so that I can actually get through a sentence without revising it six times are things I need to do if I ever hope to publish a book. Even before November officially starts, Nano is acting as the swift kick in the pants I often need to get something rolling.

    1. Join us on Nano Word warriors. We can help cheer you on to victory.

  3. I am obsessed with NaNoWriMo. I've participated and won the last 8 years, and this will be my 9th. I think one year I finished the 50,000 word goal in 8 days. One year I even set my goal to 100,000 to give myself a decent challenge. I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo (a more timid, summertime version) this year. And each year, I try to participate in's NaNo Prep Challenge, which requires you to sketch out characters, plots, and outlines for your NaNo novel all of October to prepare you for November's writing craziness. Good luck this year! I can't wait until November 1st comes around.

    1. Thanks for the heads up about I just joined.