NaNoWriMo 2016: Are You Writing a Novel This November

It's Time for NaNoWriMo Again:

NaNoWriMo 2016 Begins November 1, 2016

NaNo began in 1999 with few writers and it rapidly spread to over 431,000 writers tapping away on their keyboard last November 2015 - (almost a half a million) with one thought in their heads:

Get across the finish line. Complete a novel. Write 50,000 words. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? Do we write 50,000 words of crap? Can those words be revised and edited into something that resembles a halfway decent manuscript. Ask the plethora of people who've landed agents and publishing contracts from their NaNo manuscripts and they'll tell you, "Hell Yea!"

Many others have a dim view and less favorable opinion of the work they produce while cramming words together in one month. I suppose the outcome of your novel has much to do with the amount of planning you put into your novel prior to November 1st. But wait, you say ... isn't that cheating? I thought you weren't allowed to begin writing until the first day of November. 

True dat!

Very true. And in the past, I did zilch, that's right, nada ... nothing ... until day one. Then I opened my notebook (I'm still a pen and paper girl who gets her creative spark when the pen touches the paper) so I have to write my manuscript by longhand and then transcribe it onto my laptop. Double work. I'm getting better. I brainstorm my scenes in longhand and now I'm able to type the first draft.

But, there's nothing in the rule book that prevents us from doing a whole lotta prep work prior to November 1st. I wish I had culled this or practiced this during my first few attempts at NaNo. You can work on your character charts, character backstories, your premise, concept, plot points, pinch points, plants, set ups, reveals etc. If you're writing a mystery or thriller you can try out a a few different villains and potential endings. I don't just do work ups on my protagonist, I also do an extensive work up on my detective and my villain. I gleaned this from the book I just finished reading, which by the way is one of the best books on the writing craft I've ever read and I've read them all.

I just completed Story Genius by Lisa Cron and I can only say I wish I had read this amazing book at least two months prior to NaNo. Lisa Cron has changed the way I think about writing character arcs and how to tie the character's past into the story so that readers will truly care about your story. Plot is nothing if readers don't resonate with your characters. If your readers don't know why your character is doing something or what the impact or consequence is for the character, then readers won't care about your book. That is as simple as I can state what she so brilliantly lays out in her book.
If you buy only one writer's craft book this year, buy this book. If you only have time to read one chapter before you begin your NaNo project, you must read and learn how to apply chapter 7.
Read more about Lisa Cron Here. She is also the author of Wired For Story.

Angela Ackerman highly recommend Lisa Cron's Story Genius Author Accelerator Course

Pros & Cons of NaNo:


  1. You learn discipline, whether you finish your manuscript or not. You learn the BISHOK ...butt in seat, hands on keyboard, mentality. Writing close to 2000 words per day is bound to teach you discipline. It's like participating in the A to Z challenge. Anything that requires writing every singe day, is a good thing, in my opinion. You don't have the option or luxury of procrastinating. For me, this is benefit numero uno.
  2. It feels good to get your novel out of your head and onto paper or on the computer.
  3. It's rewarding to know you can accomplish such a challenge
  4. Once you complete NaNo, all of your ideas that were stored in your head, on sticky notes, your iPhone, tablet, scattered notebooks, torn off pieces of scratch paper, and god knows where else ... now they are all organized in one place. 
  5. You give yourself permission to write quickly and write badly which allows the creative, right side of your brain to overpower your inner editor and when you read back through what you/ve penned you will be amazed and some of the juicy tidbits and nuggets that you've written. You will write in such a frenzy that you won't even recognize some of the raw, powerful, visceral work you produced.
  6. You will become a better writer, regardless of whether your book becomes published
  7. You will have a complete book, ready to revise, come December 1st.
  8. Once you complete NaNo, all other writing contests, will seem so much easier. Writing your next book will be much easier.
  9. You writing craft will improve 
  10. Once you've completed NaNo, you know you can meet a deadline
  11. You have permission to shut the rest of the world off. Your spouse and kids get to take care of the housework, cooking, cleaning, dog walking and more for just one month. When that sign is up that says "Do not disturb." They know better and chances are they will bring you dinner, coffee, wine, chocolate or whatever it is they know you love.


  1. Technically, the rules require that you begin a new novel. You are not permitted to work on a manuscript that you've already started. So, if you're knee deep into a novel and you're really hitting your stride, making damned good progress ... do you want to stop that forward movement and lose your motivation to begin a novel that you don't know anything about? It can be a distraction. You have to choose what's best for you. I made the wrong choice two years ago. I couldn't stop thinking about the novel I'd been working on. It occupied my mind the entire time I tried to concentrate on my newer work. At the end of November, I attempted to revise the mess I made in November. January came and went and I never really felt the same strong pull toward that original novel. It's now shelved.
  2. For those of your who work during the day, and have a family and other obligations,  2000 words per day can be a difficult task. It's frustrating when you get further and further behind.
  3. If you're a regular blogger, you'll need to decide whether to skip the month of November altogether or prepare your posts in advance. You won't have time to visit many blogs for leisurely reading and commenting.
  4. If you travel for the week of Thanksgiving or have house guest for that entire week, it can add enormous stress to your life.
  5. Because you are working against the clock to put numbers (words) on the board ... your finished product will be crap. But, all first drafts are crap.

In my opinion the pros far outweigh the cons. You'll never know if you don't try.

If you need some help or tips getting started. The best place to turn is Writers Helping Writers

Check out their NaNo Triage Center

Raimey Gallent is hosting a NaNoWriMo2016 Blog & Social Media Hop

If you're not already a member of One Stop For Writers Now would be an excellent time to join.

Jami Gold has a boat load of advice to help you with NaNo

Don't do NaNo without Roz Morris' Doing NaNo? Nail it With this Resource Kit

And probably the most comprehensive list of tips I've come across, don't miss Kelsie Engen's 23 Tips & Resources for NaNoWriMo - She's broken it down into 23 relatively short post. You can skip around and find the posts that are most helpful to you. But, do read this blog. You won't be disappointed. 

So, what's the verdict? With only 4 days left? Are you in or out?

Do you have any tips to share? Pros or cons?

If you're participating, how much prep work do you do in advance? What's are you writing?

I'm writing a psychological thriller/domestic noir. 

Title: The Next Wife

Something different than my usual legal thriller. I have a great idea in my head, but I'm still working on the pitch. Hopefully I'll have it narrowed down to one line, under 30 words by Monday so I can try it out on you. I'll need some feedback. No need to be kind.  Agents won't. So let me have it.


  1. Hi Melissa - good luck is all I can say - and I won't be giving it a go ... but I'd like to tie some of my posts into a format of some description .. will get there one day ...

    See you Monday - and have a good weekend ... trickle treaters, Halloween pranksters and all - cheers Hilary

    1. What are you working on? I'm sure you'll get there. You're a very determined lady. Thanks for cheering me on. Happy Halloween.

  2. No NaNo for me this year. I participated some years back and thought it brutal. But I stuck it out and was proud that I got to the finish line. Love the, "domestic noir" Did you come up with that?

    1. No, I wish I had. I've heard that term used to describe certain novels that are similar to what I'm writing.

  3. Go for it! The pros do outweigh the cons. I wrote my second and third books thanks to NaNo events. Some of us need the deadline to finish.

    1. That's the biggest pro for me. I'm not very good with self imposed deadlines. I work best with actual deadlines. I didn't realize that your books were the result of NaNo. Gives me hope. Thanks. How much time went into your rewrites or revisions , if you don't mind me asking? And did you do a lot of prep work prior to November 1st?

  4. Replies
    1. I'm glad you think so. I'm really glad I've connected with you. You've put a lot of time into gathering people together for NaNo and I'm looking forward to networking and cheering each other on. The NaNo +Social Media Blog is a terrific idea.

  5. I'm doing Nano this year! Lisa Cron is one of my favorite writing reference authors, so I'll be sure to check that book out soon. Thanks! Good luck and happy writing.

    1. Hi. Good to hear from you. Glad you're doing NaNo. We can cheer each other on and check in with each other and and hopefully offer advice and ideas if the other gets stuck. I know I can turn to you for help with setting issues and setting is my writing weakness. I've just set a reminder to check in with you. Thanks for stopping by. Will you be blogging during the month of November?

  6. Thanks for the reminder, just signed up. Plan to finish the last 50,000 words of Motive for Murder. We need to connect I'm under

    1. Glad you stopped by. I haven't paid enough attention to my blog since NaNo started. Looking forward fo reconnecting. Best of luck with NaNo. Hope your doing well. I was ahead of schedule (thank god) because I haven't had much writing time over the past four days. Can't wait to read your next book

  7. I think NaNo is SO exciting! It's been a while since I've been able to participate. I always write three chapters and synopsis and send it to my agent for approval. Only when I get the go-ahead do I write the rest, so I'm never writing an entire manuscript from Chapter One to The End at the same time!

    1. That's a good way to do it. At least you know if you're working in the right direction. Getting feedback every few chapters is a good way to stay on track. Best of luck with your current WIP

  8. Good luck. I'll cheer you on, but I don't do NaNo. Enjoy.

    1. Thank you. I started strong and now I'm finding less and less time to write each day. I'm determined to make it though and I love what I'm writing. That really helps.

  9. I've been so worn out lately that I don't know that I could manage the NaNo. I finished it in 2009 & 2010, but haven't been able to get into it since. It is a great experience though that I do recommend to anyone who wants to push their writing to the limit and beyond.

    Best to you in November. I wish you an outstanding month of writing.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  10. I do enjoy NaNo when I have the time for it. Unfortunately this year it was impossible. Best wishes to you!!

    1. Thanks. I hope I finish, but even if I don't, I will have a good start on this book and will hopefully complete the first draft before the end of the year.

  11. Hello, thank you for the reminder! I wish you good luck in your work! By the way, here is a good service in writing essays nad other types of works


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