NaNoWriMo 2014: Writers Assemble


It’s the most writingest time of year once again,  when aspiring authors type numbers into a website to watch bars fill up! And that also means it’s time for me to write mean-spirited blog posts complaining about the NaNo forums! Wheeee!

First though, an update on last year’s project. Quite a while ago I put out a call for beta readers, confidently asserting that I was near completion. Those of you who volunteered (thanks by the way!) might have noticed that you only received ten chapters. That’s because I was in fact wildly premature and decided to re-write a big chunk of the story. Then another chunk. Then I finished the whole thing off in a second draft and decided that the direction the plot goes in is bullshit and I need to tear out at least a third of the total wordcount and rewrite it.

Basically what I’m saying is that I, a first time novelist, kind of bungled writing a novel. I know, surprising, right?

But! The book will be salvageable fairly easily. I’m quite proud of a lot of my sterling prose and most importantly I learned a whole lot, especially from my mistakes. For the moment I’m putting it aside to work on a new NaNo project, but I have every intention of finishing it properly and getting it out the door some time next year.

With my previous mistakes in mind I’m very deliberately keeping the story simple this time around; I had heard that unmanageable complexity is the curse of the first time NaNo-er and it was only my inexperience that stopped me from realizing that I was walking into precisely this trap early on.

Last year I went into this with the mindset that it was just a bit of inconsequential fun. That’s changed now; I’m serious about sending books out to agents and actually trying for publication, and the new mindset has changed how I approach the whole thing. I have a choice this November of either starting something new or polishing up the other first draft I wrote in December and January, and I ultimately made a decision based on the fact that the new project a) seems more commercial and b) is stand-alone rather than part of a series, which means quicker production time since I won’t have to come up with a plot outline for the other books before I start sending it out. Had I gone into last year’s NaNoWriMo with the same outlook I probably wouldn’t have gone with the story idea I did, so I’m glad I wasn’t as serious about the whole thing then since I personally enjoyed writing it, regardless of whether I can ever convince someone to publish it.

But enough blathering about me, let’s dissect the fascinating mysteries of the NaNo website!

Apparently NaNoWriMo has been “rebooted” this year, which is news to me since the site and concept seem more or less identical. I did notice that the writer badge section now has an intriguing “revision promise” badge, which can apparently be earned after hitting your wordcount. I’m not going to say this makes up for the identity crisis between serious writing and let’s-just-have-fun that I talked about in last year’s posts, but it’s nice to see the site acknowledge the idea that anything people slapped out in a month might need some additional polishing. Now let’s see them resurrect National Novel Editing Month, which was apparently a thing that used to happen in March.

The forums are back in full swing, giving rise to the same complement of utterly baffling threads that caused me to undergo a profound existential crisis last year. Notably, the “traditional” dirty trick thread is back, full of tips on how to torpedo your book in order to reach an arbitrary word count and now sporting a friendly reminder not to come in and accuse people of cheating, which I may or not have done last year.

I still just don’t see the point in following any of these “tricks”. If literally your only goal is to hit the wordcount, even if it means making your book incomprehensible or unreadable, then why not just type strings of random words? Why not just put your keyboard on the floor and get some cats to roll around on top of it? What’s the point of any of this if you’re not at least trying to write as well as you can? I guess “fun” would be the answer, but writing like this doesn’t sound very fun to me.


10 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo 2014: Writers Assemble

  1. steamysalt

    I wish I had your confidence. My inner critic loathes me and everything I touch. I’m hoping to be finished with my editing/revision sometime this month and would love to see it out in the wide scary world next year. I actually have a relative who has offered to pay to self-publish it for me, though I’m not sure if I really want to take up that offer.

    1. Austin H. Williams

      A part of the exercise of NaNoWriMo is to be able to silence the inner critic, at least during the first draft. This is something I’ve had a certain issue with though, because a lot of people conflate silencing an inner critic just so you can tell yourself the story with silencing your inner critic, period, and that’s only going to lead to someone writing utter crap.

      1. braak

        I find that the best solution is to do everything perfectly the first time, and then you never have to do rewrites.

        I guess that strategy is not for eveyrtone, though.

  2. Reveen

    I actually joined this year, though I don’t expect to do anything beyond hammering on my keyboard while drunk like a moron and giggling at the forums.

    Speaking of, Jim Butcher and Branderson are giving pep talks this time. I’d love to see your take on them.

    Also, Tamora Pierce is doing some to, considering what I heard about her thats actually pretty awesome.

  3. Signatus

    I have been through that, writing a book, reading it through, thinking it is trash, rewriting it almost from scratch, thinking it’s still trash, rewriting it again. Sometimes I finally hit the key that lets me look at it and say; “yeah, that’s what I was going for!”. Other times I have discarded the whole thing completely for being a piece of sh…


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