Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Excellent article in Time about NaNoWriMo and what it is or is not. Critics of the event say it produces nothing but drivel and crap, but proponents of it say it gets those all important first words down so you can get past the first draft and revise, perfect, expand. I am in the latter camp. I LOVE NANO, as any of my readers can attest. What people make of their NaNo novel is what determines if it will go on to be readable, publishable or something to hide in a box in the back of the closet. 🙂


Now that the U.S. Presidential election is out of the way, it’s time to turn our collection attentions to the true purpose of November. No, not Thanksgiving. For hundreds of thousands of people around the world, November means National Novel Writing Month — or NaNoWriMo for short — and writing 50,000 words of their latest magnum opus by the beginning of December.

For those who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, the thinking behind it is actually fairly simple: Participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch between 12:00am November 1 and 11:59pm November 30. Sounds simple, right? Well, aside from that “writing a novel” part, of course. It’s not a contest — the only things you “win” upon completion are a sense of satisfaction at having met the goal and a certificate from The Office of Letters and Light, the organization behind the month-long event. No one sits down…

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  1. There’s nothing wrong with using NaNoWriMo as a stepping stone to get your book started. That said, you can’t turn out a publishable manuscript in a month. It’s just not possible. You need to edit, rewrite, revise, edit again, have readers look it over, maybe even get a pro to take a look at it. NaNo IS a great way to get your butt in the chair and get busy, which is how writing gets done. I myself am not formally signed up for it, but I’m using it as a way to finish a stalled WIP that has been nagging me like a three-year-old. In fact, the book is about three years old! It’s time to finish it.

    Please, please, do NOT submit your NaNoWriMo book until you have done the work necessary to polish it!

    • TOTALLY AGREE! My NaNo novels are a starting point – definitely a kick in the butt. They are by no means ready for public consumption! 🙂 I don’t think very many participants are niave enough to believe theirs are ready either, at least I hope not. I find that for the most part, participants in NaNo are there for the motivation and comradity of the event. It is those who do not fully understand it who bash it and say that all it does is produce bad writing. Not the case at all…

  2. I know so many writers who swear by NaNoWriMo, it can’t be bad.

    • It is such a powerful thing to be part of sn event so large!! The collective word count makes me feel powerful. 🙂

  3. I love this whole idea Chris Baty has that it’s “draft zero” a pre first draft. If it wasn’t for Nano I wouldn’t have 3 novels now!


    • All Hail the Great and Powerful Chris Baty! 🙂 I am with you Vikki – without the whole “draft zero” concept I don’t think I would have ever stopped overthinking it and actually sat down and done the writing. 🙂

      • Totally Cheryl, so why can’t all the Nano critics see that? 😦


        • I guess it is easy to bash things you don’t understand and have never tried. Perhaps they never try because they suffer from the same fear as many of us and are scared of the power they could unleash by setting their own words to the page!

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