NaNoWrimo? Advice Sought.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on a decision I need to make soon.

November, as many of you know, is National Novel Writing Month. They call it NaNoWrimo for short.  As the name suggests the point is to start writing a novel on November 1, and have at least a 50,000 word rough draft by the last day of November. It doesn’t have to be an entire story arc. You just need to have 50,000 words written only in the allotted time. (That is to say, not having begun writing before November.)

You are allowed to have an outline of a novel before November, however. Just no prose. I had no outline the first time, just a single idea. I had a bit of an outline the second time. That was a few years ago.

NaNo helped rid me of my need to edit as I write. I can now, as I did with my current novel, write a rough draft all the way through without revisiting it until it’s finished. I’ve never returned to finish the novels I started in my two NaNo experiences, but I still have them.


Flowers for Dionysus, my current WIP, is in its fourth draft. I set a schedule for myself that required the fourth draft to be finished by December. However I finished it about three months early. Having completed two drafts this year, it was always my plan to let the novel sit throughout the holidays, and let people read it before I began the next revision sometime early next year. Only now I have a much larger chunk of time left in 2012 to let people read it, and to let it sit a while, than I initially thought I would.

I am, nonetheless, going to stick with that plan. So I know I won’t be editing Flowers for Dionysus any more this year, regardless.

Earlier this year as some test readers read the previous draft of this novel, I began outlines on my next novel. We’ll call that Novel Two. Thus far I have about half of the plot outlined. Though I would never write two novels at once, I had every intention of starting Novel Two sometime next year, now that Flowers for Dionysus is in the later draft stages, and is no longer being “hard written” if you will. It’s being fine tuned. In other words, I feel I can polish later drafts of one novel, while creating the first draft of another.

Enter NaNoWrimo.

Given that November is now more free for me, and given that one is allowed to use an outline for NaNoWrimo, should I use NaNoWrimo and that outline as a launching pad for the rough draft of Novel Two? I have some concerns.

My previous two NaNo novels were a means to an end. I created them to rise to the challenge of NaNo, but have done nothing with either one of them since. I fully intend for Novel Two to be the next official novel that I see through to the end. Revisions and all. Does starting it during NaNo run the risk of trivializing it? Would I be sacrificing the true dedication I have to this idea to the gimmick of NaNo? Does my next “official” novel deserve an unencumbered, more casual time frame during which I write the rough draft? Given that I refuse to even look at the rough draft until it’s totally finished, can any section of it written for NaNo be as solid as a rough draft I would write in my own sweet time?

Or on the other side, would it be like hitting the ground running, infusing the project with a certain vigor it may not otherwise have if I started it at my leisure?

I’ve never used NaNo for a project I knew was to be important later on, so in a way it will be like doing it for the first time. A new challenge, which everyone says is good for the writer. And of course, once NaNo is over, I can proceed with the rest of the narrative at whatever pace I like.

I should also mention that for a moment or two I have been tempted to write yet another stand alone piece just for NaNo this year. To act as a buffer between my current draft of the WIP, and the start of Novel Two. I’ve not discounted that, but I am reluctant to inject a whole new novel length narrative into my mind before starting on Novel Two.

So, readers of this blog, (many of whom are writers), what do you think? Should I use NaNo to launch Novel Two? Or should I take a more leisurely approach as I did with my first novel?



  1. If I were in your position, I would definitely use the outline for novel #2 as your NaNo project. At the end of November you’ll have a great head start when you ring in the New Year. Good luck with whatever decision you make!

  2. Cassie

    Launch Novel 2! (and also don’t wait to fine tune Novel #1 – I want to see it in print sooner rather than later!) 🙂

  3. Thanks to you both. (I guess two replies out of hundreds of people I am connected to is all i can hope to expect anymore.) I am leaning towards doing it.

  4. I’m doing it. Allow me to drag you along with me… lol.

    I have a lot of reservations about it, but in the end it came down to “Oh screw it! I’m in.” I really have nothing to lose, and if it does get to be overwhelming, I’ll just slow down and forget about reaching 50k in a month. It’s not like I’m contractually obligated to finish. I think you’re itching to start book two anyway, so why not jump on the bandwagon? 🙂


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