Writers On... NaNoWriMo

The ladies of RAD are back with the latest installment of “Writer’s On…”!

After missing the first scheduled meeting, our authors got together on Facebook to discuss none other than NaNoWriMo! If you’ve ever wanted to know what authors really think about National Novel Writing Month, wondered how hard it is to find writing time in November, or felt sure the challenge was impossible, today’s discussion is for you.


Read on to find out if NaNoWriMo is the challenge for you—whether you’ve written a novel before or not.


Writers On… NaNoWriMo


Rani Divine: Hi ladies! I'm online, but take your time. I'm early.

MJ Neal: Red five standing by!

Rani: Hi red five!

Tammy Boehm: I’m here.

Rani: Hi!

Tammy: Hola

Rani: How are we this lovely evening?

Tammy: Gnarly. Happy the week is over.

CD Yensen: Here!

Rani: Hi CD! I feel like it's Tuesday lol!

CD: Why Tuesday?

Rani: I went grocery shopping, which is usually a Tuesday event.

Tammy: We have the grand-bean. Seems like Saturday here

CD: It's a busy day, feels like a Friday

MJ: I'm sad that there's no more Stranger Things for the weekend... Le sigh

Rani: I still have three episodes! ...but I also have an all day event tomorrow, so it might last longer.

Tammy: We binge watched it in two days!

CD: Yeah, it went fast!

Rani: Watch Into the Badlands or 12 Monkeys :)

MJ: I savored it, and it still went too fast.

Rani: Doesn't it always?

Tammy: Yup

Rani: I for one, declare that it has been far too long since our last discussion.

CD: I agree!

Tammy: It has.

MJ: Yep... Especially after our weekend mishap

Rani: haha at least that was amusing. And I got up early enough that I got a lot done that day!

CD: lol. That was a sad day

Rani: Well, what's say we get started? ...that sentence makes no sense, the more I think about it.

CD: I'm ready!

Tammy: Me too

CD: 1st question is.... *drum roll*

Rani: First off, have you heard of NaNoWriMo?

Tammy: Yup

MJ: Yep, and I'm doing it : )

Rani: Wooo!!

CD: No.

Rani: *gasp* Well CD, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it takes place twice a year — once in April, again in November.

CD: Oohh

Rani: Basically, it's a challenge to write a 50,000 word book in a month.

CD: Wow!

Rani: The next question was going to be whether you who've heard of it have ever participated…

Tammy: I’ve done it three or four times.

Rani: I've personally never participated, but when I'm writing at normal pace I write more than 50,000 words in a month, so I didn’t find it all that useful. What do you guys think of it in general, as a concept?

Tammy: It’s a great way of getting a first draft, but for me when I do it my book gets away from me. It’s awesome as a concept to get people out of edit mode.

Rani: Yeah, I've heard of that happening to several authors.

MJ: It's great for developing discipline and for getting the rough draft done.

CD: It feels like pressure.

Rani: I wondered about that!

MJ: However, don't expect a finished project ready for publishing at the end. Editors spend December slushing unedited NaNo novels.

Rani: We really do. I've seen a few in my day.

MJ: It's a lot of fun, but it needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

Tammy: Last time I did it I got a Nettie. 50,000 words, 30k her talking.

Rani: hahaha I love Nettie though, man!

Tammy: Two others I did, the plots were completely different than I originally intended. So yes absolutely for a first draft but you will have to edit the results.

Rani: I think that's what would happen if I tried it. My plots get away from me if I don't watch them. (says the writer who doesn't outline or know the plot ahead of time).

MJ: I've used it more as a personal form of writing exercise.

Rani: CD, do you think you could do it?

CD: No. I really don't think I can do it. I plot and I plan, so maybe if I had an idea in mind, maybe I could do the challenge.

Rani: I honestly don't blame you for thinking that. It's hard!

Tammy: CD, one time I did it I wrote the last 27k in three days

CD: Wow! That would be rough.

Rani: Yeeeesh....

CD: How many hours each day the last three days did you write?

Tammy: All day. The biggest issue I have is that November gets busy already.

Rani: That's why I always recommend April lol

CD: Oh my gosh, both months suck for me!

Tammy: Yes, April in the accounting world is a busy month too.

MJ: Maybe it's just me, but as a busy mom I really enjoy the challenge.

Rani: Maybe we should do a RadNoWriMo in a different month?

CD: Yeah like May or June.

Tammy: Yeah, May or June would be good.

MJ: I rarely get the opportunity these days to "get in the zone" and write, so it’s fun, but yeesh. November is indeed a bad month.

Rani: June might be good!

Tammy: I have never done the 30 poems in thirty days. I’ve come close though. A RadWrite would be very cool.

CD: Who comes up with these challenges??

Rani: Crazy people who don't know how to pick a not previously insane month? haha

CD: hahaha!! Yes!

Rani: The only worse month for it is December. Haha I never write much in December… How much do you guys usually write on an average writing day?

Tammy: Well since my schedule is so, not mine, I am inclined to binge write.

MJ: Me too, Tammy. I take whatever time I get. Sometimes 15 minutes, sometimes hours. But I do try to write something every day, even if it's just a poem or two.

Tammy: I used to just do things like write on my lunch hour. I don’t get an hour now.

CD: Neither do I.

Rani: I think I average around 4,000 words on a good day, but lately I'm thrilled to get 2,000. #editor

Tammy: Rani though, you are a writing machine.

Rani: I haven't written anything but short stories since September lol

CD: I am a total Grinch, so I took on an extra class to get out of holiday planning.

Rani: hahaha! I can't do stuff like that... my sister-in-law would not be pleased with me.

CD: But you really belt them out.

Rani: It hasn't been easy lately though. I've had so much editing on my plate that I've hardly written.

MJ: If I had the time, I could do a lot. I can write 1500 words in about 75 minutes.

Rani: That's a really good rate, MJ! So, the question of the year, which I've seen in all my writer forums this year: Do you think NaNoWriMo is better for writers, or for people who want to write?

MJ: Hmmm... Good question, Rani. : )

CD: People who want to write. It sounds like a great building block.

Tammy: I think it is great for those who want to write or those who are getting back into writing, or doing the “do I have a novel in me” thing.

MJ: I think you're probably right, CD. It's not that writers can't use it, but it is more useful for aspiring writers.

Tammy: Or writers who maybe want to see where total abandon will take them in thirty days.

Rani: That's how I lean, too. I think it's a good way to start writing, but it doesn't do anything to teach you craft or any of the other important tenants of writing.

MJ: Good point, Rani.

Rani: Definitely! It can be a really cool thing to do, I would think. One of these years, I'll try it haha

CD: Me too! I am already plotting for June.

Rani: Maybe we should try it together, CD. June works for me! haha

Tammy: Rad should definitely do a June thing. I’m in.

Rani: That could be really fun!

Tammy: It could be.

CD: Ok, I gotta spend the rest of the night brainstorming and planning... lol

MJ: RadWriMo!!

Tammy: Yup!

CD: Yes!

Rani: I'll put it on the books! Now, if you were to participate in NaNoWriMo, would you outline or seat-of-your-pants? CD will outline, I’m sure.

CD: Outline.

Tammy: Seat of pants.

MJ: I always do both. I'm a plantster ; )

Rani: I'd pants it, but mainly because I don't outline ever and I'm bad at it. I get soooooo bored if I outline.

CD: Wow! Pantsing a story sounds so foreign to me!

Tammy: If I’m NaNoing, I turn off all forms of editing—even spelling and grammar.

Rani: That's probably a good idea, Tam. I think I'd have to watch myself really closely, cause I self-edit while I'm reading what my fingers are typing.

CD: I have an outline and tons of notes.

MJ: Why choose? : )

Rani: The story I'm working on now has to be partially outlined, which is driving me a little wonko. I do admire outliners though, man. I wish I could do that.

CD: I wish I could pants!

Tammy: Usually because I never get daily writing time so my month is compressed. I usually lose a week.

Rani: It's really fun sometimes, CD! Other times it's very confusing lol

CD: I would end up confused. Maybe I should do a pants writing challenge? PaWriMo?

Rani: haha! Hey, it could be a good learning experience

MJ: My problem is that I think through my fingers. I almost have to start typing in order to plan the story out.

CD: I am the same MJ, but I do pen and paper and think it through.

Rani: That's so interesting. I've never done that. I literally do not think my stories through. I just write them.

Tammy: I think outlines are great though.

Rani: I can see how they'd be super useful if you have a large span of time between writing sessions.

Tammy: Another thing about writing with no plan is, for me, chronological writing goes away. A rudimentary outline keeps me chronological.

CD: Yup! That's me! And I switch between characters a lot too. It prevents writer's block.

Rani: Oh yeah, that would be a good way to fight the block, wouldn't it?

Tammy: I may still write scenes out of sequence but at least I know I need to go back to flesh out.

Rani: So, the last question I've prepared is this: Do you see any problems with the idea of writing a 50,000 word book in a month?

CD: No, if someone can do it that's amazing.

Tammy: Yup. For me, when I write it’s more rapid fire so I try to write as much as I can in the time allotted so I don’t lose the idea. Depends on how you define a book.

CD: I've resorted to carrying a digital recorder so I can speak the idea no matter where I am.

Rani: Good idea!

Tammy: I think you can definitely do a first draft in a month, but you won’t have a finished work.

MJ: My novels are always longer, so for me it’s a good way to take a chunk out of it.

Rani: For me, trying to write something concisely in 50,000 words is the hard part haha

Tammy: Well you can go over word count. ;-)

Rani: ha! Hey, I used to write 64,000 words in a month and only be a 1/4 through the book.

CD: I think it would be a big challenge for me as I've been writing one book for over 10 years.

Rani: It would be a challenge! It's a challenge for everybody though I think, no matter where you are in your writing career.

Tammy: Well CD you could always try and track how far you get. I’ve actually done that a couple of times too.

CD: I agree. I'm thinking about trying it.

Rani: I like that. Tracking is really useful for me no matter what. I like mini challenges like that. I think we should do it, CD. We'll do a writing month for RAD, and see how far we get.

MJ: I agree. Trackers can be helpful, though just like ones designed for physical exercise they can either encourage or discourage you, haha

CD: Agreed!

Rani: haha!! That's exactly how it is, MJ.

Tammy: The one cool thing about NaNo is there is a website and in some areas people actually get together in person, so there is support.

CD: I've already started planning, I'm going through ideas in my head as we type.

Tammy: That’s why a RadWriMo would be a blast!

MJ: Good point, Tammy. The support network for WriMo is really nice.

Rani: True, Tam! We could totally support each other through it. It'd be fun!

CD: I could use the support!

Rani: We've got you, CD!

CD: Thanks!

Tammy: And we could blend, like back up the word count or do like a pre-rad where we do a week of prep for the planners among us?

Rani: Oohh I like that idea, too!

CD: Yes!!

MJ: RadWriMo should definitely be a thing

Tammy: We could tailor it a bit. We should do it.

CD: I'm in!

Tammy: I’m in, too.

Rani: We'll make it happen then!

MJ: Maybe craft a more writer-friendly WriMo rather than one that caters to aspirations?

Tammy: Yes!

CD: Yes.

Rani: Yeah, that's what I was thinking. Something designed more for real writers.

CD: Quality not quantity.

Rani: Any final thoughts on NaNoWriMo, before we wrap this up? Should everyone try it?

Tammy: I think it’s a great learning experience.

CD: Well, sure. It's good to challenge yourself and get out of your comfort zone.

Rani: I tend to agree, though I'd say if you're high anxiety and struggle to meet goals anyway, maybe don't jump straight into NaNo first thing. It's not the easiest goal to meet, by any means. Baby steps.

Tammy: I agree.

Rani: In that case, I'd say if you take some time to prep first, then go for it.

CD: Or change your goal to be a challenge, but still be achievable.

MJ: Tentatively, I think everyone should try it once. Best case you get a 50,000 word start, worse case you find out where your strengths and weaknesses are, and that is no bad thing either.

CD: I agree. Relax on the pressure of the finished product.

Rani: True, MJ. There's always something to be learned from it.

Tammy: Yes to all of the above.

Rani: So, to everyone reading this... try NaNoWriMo. The next one's in April. Thanks for chatting tonight, ladies!

CD: Thank you, ladies! I always love talking with you

Rani: Same here!!

Tammy: Thank you—always so much fun!

MJ: Thank you, friends : ) Have a wonderful weekend

CD: You too!


RadNoWriMo—Coming June 2018.

For real.


Special thanks to Rani Divine for moderating this discussion, and Tammy Boehm, MJ Neal, and CD Yensen for participating!

If you enjoyed this discussion, be sure to check out our other “Writers On” posts!