Your Books that are Interesting (National Novel Writing Month 2012)

Well, the site has re-booted and the forums are up. Pens are nearing paper worldwide and the new NaNo leadership are gearing up for what’s likely to be the biggest year for the event ever.

That’s right, kids, it’s National Novel Writing Month version 13! Last year topped 250,000 writers around the globe, each struggling mightily to produce a novel (okay, novella, whatever) at least 50,000 words in length in the 30 days of November. The goal remains the same as ever: average 1667 words a day for 30 days straight to claim the ultimate prize: a book of your very own and the special feeling that comes from winning a prize that holds no external value :)

This’ll be my 8th time through (only won thrice, though). I’m still struggling to decide exactly what I’ll write, but I look forward to the challenge nonetheless. I found myself wondering once more which Qt3ers were taking up the challenge this year.

If you want, we can link our usernames/profiles here and I’ll try to keep a running list while I’m procrastinating at work :)

The Wordspinner (Armando Penblade on Qt3)

Big Important Looking FAQ Thing for Qt3ers Who Care (shit b0n3rz)

What is NaNoWriMo?
It stands for National Novel Writing Month and there’s not much more to it than that, except that it’s international now. You get a month (November) and write a novel. It’s technically a contest insofar as their site tracks your progress and you get a little banner (and sometimes goodies from NaNoWriMo sponsors) if you win, but really, you’re mostly doing this for personal fulfillment.

What Constitutes a Novel?
50,000 words, machine-countable (at month’s end, you can submit your manuscript to the site’s automated word-counters. Don’t worry; the remote copy is destroyed immediately after counting). Ideally, it features a beginning, middle, and end. It should be in the form of prose and not be a continuation of an existing work (i.e., don’t start early or write a play).

That said, since the only validation is automated counting, you’re honestly free to craft whatever the heck you want. Some people even hand-write or do graphic novels just because they want to join in the spirit but don’t wanna type a novel at their computer.

Why Do It?
Aside from the personal fulfillment mentioned above (NaNo founder Chris Baty often spoke about the importance of creativity and creation for their own sake rather than serving an “important” purpose that could strip them of fun and spontaneity, turning them into drudgerous tasks), there’s also the community aspect.

You see, over the years, NaNo has evolved into quite the little subculture. Obviously the forums on the site are a rollicking adventure of madness stuffed to the gills with other people just as excited about the act of writing a novel as you are. People there are eager to help with plot issues, character building, and even background research (there’s a whole subforum dedicated to finding subject matter experts to tell you exactly what riding a horse for 2 months on end would be like or how many habitable planets might exist in the galaxy or how George Washington might have reacted to an assassination attempt). Genre forums are rife with ideas, discussions, and a lot of wackiness.

However, the real meat of the experience, in my book, is in the local interaction. Most medium-to-large towns in the world have a local writer’s group that gathers for so-called “write-ins” wherein people gather at a predetermined location with laptops, notebooks, and sometimes even typewriters to work together, laughing, eating, discussing ideas, and being supportive. Pre- and post-NaNo parties and potlucks aren’t uncommon, and some really organized groups hold rallies, raffle off doorprizes, and even award end-of-month honors to regular attendees. Each little area of the world develops its own wonderful subculture :)

Any Tips for a First-Timer?
[li]Write, don’t edit. Editing is for December, January, and beyond. November is for getting your raw thoughts and ideas on the page quickly and efficiently; getting bogged down in revision during the contest just means you have to spend more time writing.
[li]Set aside a regular schedule. Write for half an hour with your morning coffee, or on your lunch break at work. If you have an active local group, attend the write-ins and do it there.
[li]Use helpful tools to keep yourself on track. The Nano Technology subforum will slowly fill up with advanced spreadsheets and wordtrackers, widgets for your blogs or social networks, day planners, and more.
[li]Consider planning ahead–or go off-the-cuff! Some people write reams of background info, draw out elaborate multi-page outlines, and spend entire days acting “in-character” in the weeks and months prior to NaNo. Others prefer to let the month be a fountain of unimpeded creative madness. Decide which you think you’d prefer and plan (or don’t!) accordingly.
[li]Getting a writing buddy or involve yourself in “word sprints.” Someone to keep you on-task is invaluable, whilst group “sprints” are awesome motivations to just force yourself to the task for 5, 15, or 30 minutes at a time.

I was Told that there Would be Shit b0n3rz
You were lied to. Apologies.

I’m in.

I did the August Camp NaNoWriMo and succeeded at cranking out 50K+ words. This compromised about 40% of a first draft of my work in progress. That draft took me in directions that I hadn’t expected, and veered me off the course of my original outline. I spent September regrouping, and my hope is to complete a revised outline in October, then in November pick up where I left off in terms of the manuscript itself. Hopefully November will end with about 80% of a first draft complete.

I’m not a pantser. I need an outline. I just don’t stick to it, I listen to my characters.

I did it last year and added 50k words to the book I’m otherwise very slowly writing. Not sure about this year, though.

I am not in, not being a writer nor particularly having anything to say. But I am enamored with the writing process and the creative process and I’m interested in following vicariously, I guess I would say. I’d be interested in reading whatever you folks write, or just peeking into your posts as you go.

There’s a good chance I’ll be posting some updates over at assuming that my host stops going down every other week. I’ll try to save my posts here to more quick bits than the swaths I may well expel over there.

Hmm nano #3. Dare I go for it again? I think I will, but not sure. An early-month trip to NYC will mess up my rhythm. I might have to cheat and pre-Nano the first 5000 words or so…

Heh, last year unemployment was gonna be my magic bullet. I’d moved to Raleigh in August and had no prospects at all.

October 31st, I got the call for a temp position, thought I was screwed. Turns out it was REALLY temp and I finished in 3 days.

Then November 15 hit and I got another call for a job starting the 17th. That one ended up going long (technically ending in about a month due to some retarded state law about not keeping temps on for more than a year, so hello again, unemployment!), so I crapped out about halfway through last year.

Then again, since I’ll probably be jobless again this year. . . could this be the year of the 100,000 word novel?!

I’ve never tried this, but I’m in. Sounds fun! What do people usually use to write? I mean, if it’s machine counted, I likely can’t use my typewriter. Do you guys use a giant Word document? Google Doc? I’d love to use LaTeX but it either produces dvi or pdf output, or throws off the word count with markup.

I’ve used lots of things before, but this year will be the first that I am a proud owner of a NEO ( which I have been successfully using for distraction free writing for months now. I’ll be using October to finish laying out the outline and then on October 31st I’ll transfer everything over to the PC, format it, print it so I can carry it around and clear the NEO for November.

Most folks use a word processor, like the kind they have on computers nowadays. ;)

Open Office and Libre Writer (the latter is my favorite) are the two most-frequently used free-to-use open source MS Office mimickers out there.

I’ve taken to using Scrivener, which is a pretty phenomenal bit of novel-organization software (also works for screenplays and other forms of fiction). It has really nice notes-and-research sorting tools, really amazing chapter/scene/volume controls, and then scripts to run over the whole thing upon completion to apply automatic formatting for various end goals (novel manuscript for submission, television screenplay, etc.).

It’s pretty entertaining, but it’s also a lot of overhead. Plenty of people do write in Word, Google Docs, or one of several minimalist text editors like RoughDraft and DarkRoom.

I find the best luck with giving the counter .doc or .rtf (and, I assume, .txt) stuff, but I think there’s also an option to just copy-paste the text directly into an input box, IIRC.

Sorry for being all over the thread; I really enjoy NaNo :D

So what you’re saying is: typewriter, scan, pdf-to-txt; then copy and paste into a text box won’t necessarily cut it?

Just kidding. My fingers kill me when I use the typewriter.

Fountain pen and notebooks. Manual count.

I haven’t decided if I’m going to try again this year. I was planning to and had some ideas that I’d started to (mentally) explore, but I’m not feeling it right now. We’ll see in a couple weeks.

I’m in this year. I finished my novel two years ago, had a major technical problem last year and dropped out but I’m feeling pretty confident this year.

As far as the writing program I’m growing pretty fond of Yarny (

Here’s me: pwarning

I’m just using google docs for the convenience of access. There’s no need for fancy formatting in a novel, and I can easily cut and paste to move stuff around if I need to for some reason. Notes and research are off to the side, and I don’t do much of either anyway.

I got to 50K last year but it really only felt half a novel. I’m using this year’s to squeeze out the back half.

I used to love Scrivener until I finished my last book and it was in 35 pieces. It took me at least a week to put the damn thing together because timelines were all messed up. I’ve gone back to Word since then. I would really like to see how others use the program because I’m sure I’m just doing something wrong.

I do like how Scrivener allows you to keep notes on the side bar as well as the ability to organize character descriptions and outlines.

The compile option allows you to choose what pieces are exported into a single file, in what order, and in what format. Several formats are available, including formatting into a Word file in standard manuscript style.

Have to bow out this year. I have two after-work/extracurricular activities that I must get finished in the next few months, and piling Nanowrimo on top of that would be too much.