Blog Archives

NaNoWriMo – What Is It And Can I Catch It?


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a growing global phenomanon. The premise? Write 50,000 words in 30 days. Plain and simple, though not as simple as some people may think.

Last year was my first year participating. In fact I had never even heard of NaNoWriMo until right before it started. A few of my writer friends were talking, it sounded like code and it sounded cool. I admit I was annoyed that I wasn’t given a decoder ring before so I tackled them and beat them about the head with a herring until they gave up the NaNo goods.

Last year I wrote “The Squirrel Stole My Thong And Other Reasons I’m Still Single.”. I wrote over 60,000 words and I “won”.

What exactly does this mean? It means I have a rough draft of a book. It means accomplishment. It means I didn’t waste my time watching re-runs of Oprah. Participating in NaNoWriMo forced me to put something together in a small space of time that I normally wouldn’t have. It gave me the joy of working with friends with similar interests and cheering each other on, whether everyone made their word counts or not. It gave me a first draft of the book. I’m still not done. I have about forty pages left to polish on the final draft before I send it to beta readers.

There is the rub. It seems this year when I started NaNo, I was exposed to a darker side of this great program. It was “the snark”. People would post “witty sayings” on those faux motivational posters like “Anyone can be a writer, if you set the bar low enough” or “The challenge of an arbitrary target and deadline without the burden of any expectation of quality”. Really. I could tell these people to bite me or to take their microscopic penises and go back to their sterile and joyless lives but I’m a lady so I’ll just say “Bless their hearts!”

Honestly, I fail to see the value of people who want to piss in my Cherrios. What harm does it do for hundreds of thousands of people to actually focus on literacy and writing for a month? I can hear it now. “Publishers get flooded by shit on December 1st because people just send their NaNo books in thinking they are finished.” True. Some people do. Some people don’t understand that the real job of writing is in the re-writing. But that is part of the job when you are a publisher and there is a place for those projects. It’s called a slush pile. If people who just pass off dreck never get published, who’s hurt by that? Then again you could be Stephanie whatsherwhoseits… you know, Sparkly Vampire Writer, who writes dreck and does get published. See? Miricles happen, dreams do come true so who am I or anyone to judge?

NaNo also puts on a Young Writers Program and quite honestly, I can think of many worse things young people could be doing besides writing. Let’s see, they could be breaking into your cars, your homes, doing crack, having babies in bathroom stalls and sticking them in a trash can. You know, the usual, so I think getting them excited about writing about the things that interest them is a good thing.

Personally I hope you catch the NaNo bug. It really is a great deal of fun, gives you a sense of accomplishment and keeps you off the streets. Don’t listen to your parents when they tell you to keep your day job or get a real job. We all know there are no more jobs out there. You might as well make your own or at least do something for you and not for your parents. Remember, they never liked anyone you dated anyway.

This Wednesday from Noon – 2pm, I will be writing in the window of the Office of Letters and Light (Headquarters to NaNoWriMo) next door to the Sweet Adeline Bakeshop in Berkeley. I will be sitting there, wearing my Mickey Mouse ears, with Princess Aurora on the window, hopped up on chai and writing away. Come by and mock me unless you are legal counsel from Disney and in that case I’m at the Starbucks in Piedmont. (No interior mocking, exterior only – this is still a place of business) I will be somewhere in the 30,000+ word territory on my new project “Deirdre Does Disney: An Irreverent Look At The House Of Mouse”

Come on by, get involved and remember NaNoWriMo is spreading and if you aren’t careful, you will catch it. Sooner or later, we all get a little geek on ourselves.