Tagged with "nanowrimo"
A Novel is Not Just for November
Category: Writing
Tags: writers abroad online writing community nanowrimo novel writing first drafts

If you've been around the writing circuit for some time, you'll know all about the annual writing challenge known as NaNoWriMo. Short for National Novel Writing Month. It takes place in the month of November and the idea is to write 50,000 words within the month. It started way back in 1999 with 21 participants and last year, in 2017, the challenge attracted over 400,000 participants.

Now there are some who are sceptical of the challenge; 50,000 words for instance does not necessarily make a novel but that's not the point. Well, not for me anyway. As with most writing advice and suggestions, it's all about what suits the individual. I have taken part 7 times and achieved the goal five years out of those. And from those words I've produced at least three (and a bit) full length, self-published novels and working on a fourth. So, I guess it works for me.

The challenge is getting that dirty first draft onto paper with the notion that it will not be the polished article­ – it will be the beginning of something.

The month of October has been deemed as the preparation month; put some thought in now and during November all you have to do is write the words. Here are some of the tasks you could be thinking about to make sure that your NaNoWriMo goes as smoothly as it can.

For Your Story:

  • Ideas – well at least one would be a start!
  • Character Development - get to know your major players at least
  • Plot - at the very basic a Beginning, Middle and End
  • Scene list - as brief or as detailed as you like
  • Timeline - rough sketch or detailed
  • Research – especially if you write in a genre which demands realistic facts or world building if you prefer the stuff you can make up

For Your Life:

  • Menu Planner – for main meals; have a cook and freeze fest so you don’t have to think about it
  • Other Work Must Do's – lots of us have other commitments, how can you clear your desk for the month ahead?
  • Play List – Like to listen to music as you write? Put together some inspiring music to help you along
  • Friends and Family – tell them what you are up to and how they can support you
  • Goodies – Chocolates, wine, a good film; whatever floats your boat and will serve as a treat when you hit that word count

For me, it's about motivation over a concentrated period of time. And having proved to myself that I can do it during November, well then I can achieve it any month of the year. If I put my mind to it.

Remember: A Novel is not just for November.

Motivator or Gimmick Tags: NaNoWriMo 2DNC


Motivating or Just a Gimmick? 



Today (Monday) it is Labour Day in Canada, Labor Day in the United States. So a good time to resurrect this blog written a few years ago. Some of you know I thrive on challenges. Especially deadlines. And so, as a writer of poetry and very short/flash fiction, the 3-day Novel Weekend and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November have become my motivators for longer work over the years - as a result I have a mountain of draft novels. And very drafty novels they are too. I am sure many consider such events gimmicky, but for me they work. I have produced writing that would not otherwise exist. I also have quite a collection of NaNo Winners T-shirts!




I Was In Labour for Three Days (2013)


For me, the International Three Day Novel Contest is akin to a surprise pregnancy. I say surprise because I am always shocked that I actually fall. Again.


3DNC is reported as being ‘not for the faint-hearted’. If that’s the case I must be a bit of a hard-hearted old biddy because this was my third time.


It costs $50 to put yourself through the roller coaster of joy, torture, euphoria, gloom, delight, exasperation and a whole host of other worthy emotions. It is also a commitment; you are not going to cough up the fifty bucks and then not do it. Are you?


It is always held, appropriately, Labour Day Weekend, so I can only assume it was first intended, in 1977, for lonely people as an alternative to a family/friends gathering for the last fling of summer. Don’t worry, I’m well blessed with family and friends which is just as well as you need the full support of your nearest and dearest. They’re the ones who make sure you’re fed and watered at intervals; when you’re sequestered away from midnight Friday to midnight Monday, writing your little socks off, you don’t want to die of starvation. Do you?


This year I signed up but had no inspiration. I had no clue what the ‘novel’ would be. Nada. But just over a week before, I was picking around in a local antique store and tripped over some old (very old) cancelled passports. There was a curiousness (sic) about them. A novelly smell. The fact they’d been kept in a box with old id cards and photos. And the fact that they had been issued in Valparaiso, Chile. I held the inspiration in my hands. The two passports cost me twenty bucks. I’d now spent $70 on this nebulous novel.


By midnight Friday I was champing at the bit, foaming at the mouth, spitting tacks: in short - raring to go. After nine short days of waiting, the labour pains kicked in. I couldn’t wait to write my opening sentence and to get to know my protagonist. So before I hit the hay that night, all I wrote was:



And with that I happily toddled up to bed and slept like a babe, unlike previous 3DNCs when my midnight oil-burners charred down to their final flicker. When I woke after eight the next morning, chapter one was already rattling through my head. The weekend was cathartic. It was a journey into chinks of memory, to realms of imaginary meals and illuminating conversations, to settings only possible with the help of ‘google street view’. I also had no idea that Gordon’s father would turn out to be a bigamist.


By 10.30 pm on Monday night I typed -The End - I was done.  A new draft novel, albeit a tad underweight, was born. The following morning it was emailed off with its witness statement to defend its future. Its sentence I will not know until next Spring. In a strange way, letting it go so swiftly has left me feeling bereft. At a loss.


Passport to Perdita wouldn’t exist without this challenge. If it were a NaNo novel it would certainly be different (having 30 days instead of 3 creates a different rhythm) - and there is no money to part with either, so - the commitment is not necessarily quite so acute. And unlike a NaNo novel which is a private/personal manuscript - the 3DN will be read.



So I now have three 3 Day Novels: Minerva’s Letters, Gecekondu, and Passport to Perdita. They are like my children, one (Gecekondu) has left home now and is doing the publishers’ circuit. 


You incubate them; these characters, these stories, these situations. You live intensely with them, always hoping they will take flight. And then when they do...



...of course, there’s always Nano kicking off in a couple of months. Do I really want to add another draft novel to the dusty pile? 


Monday 5th November - This Week on WA!
Category: Site News
Tags: Foreign Encounters Book launch Nanowrimo November writing challenge Bonfire night


  1. Foreign Encounters sales are still doing well, 171 copies sold already, amounting to a profit of 224 Euros! Last year’s anthology, Foreign Flavours, is attracting buyers as well. Paola, Doreen, Jo and Vanessa are planning book launches in their countries, drawing in local buyers with readings and luscious eats.
  1. Chris N has penned a thought-provoking blog which I recommend you read and add your comments on the subject.
  1. Jill has written some tantalising prompts for us, including duchesses, racehorses, silk scarves and possibly a bonfire thrown in. No excuse for not getting fire-cracking on our Monday Muses this week.
  1. November writing challenges include; flash fiction, memoir writing, any Nano preparations and a dear diary competition. A pen-watering pick & mix of writing challenges!
  1. Jill is still reigning on the bragging stool with two non-fiction commissions. Her short story, 'My Cousin May', recently shortlisted in a competition, will be published on the 5minutefiction website later in November! Keep up the good work, Jill. Perhaps the fourth bus will be coming along soon.
  1. Nanowrimo participants are determined to achieve their word counts every day, despite pesky inner critics managing to contact them from various places of incarceration. (I’m speaking for myself here, but cannot imagine I’m the only one!) Keep writing and don’t let the b*****ds grind us down, I say.

Don’t know if you’re celebrating Bonfire night where you are but how about igniting some fictional fireworks? Whatever tickles your fancy; Catherine Wheels, Jumpin’ Jacks, Roman Candles or Dutch favourite, the Screaming Kitchen Maid, let’s all sparkle!


Who's Online
This Month on Writers Abroad
Saturday, December 1, 2018
December 2018 News
Writers Abroad

Promote your Page too
Our Book Shelf

Writers Abroad's Bookshelf

The House at Zaronza
tagged: writers, abroad, vanessa, couchman, historical, and fiction
Love is All You Need: Ten tales of love from The Sophie King Prize
tagged: writers, abroad, sophie, king, prize, alyson, and hillbourne
Out of Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, croft, members, and publications
The Duke's Shadow
tagged: the, duke-s, shadow, louise, charles, debut, and novel
Foreign & Far Away
tagged: writers, abroad, amanda, hodkinson, books, charity, anthology, 2013...
Losing Control
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
tagged: nina, croft, writes, and abroad
Conversations with S. Teri O'Type
tagged: writers, abroad, christopher, and allen
Break Out
tagged: writers, abroad, ninca, and croft
Deadly Pursuit
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
The Calling
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft
Big Book of New Short Horror
tagged: featuring, wa, member, alyson, and hillbourne
Tiger of Talmare
tagged: writers, abroad, nina, and croft

Networked Blogs