In November, hundreds of thousands of writers from all over the world commit to the craziness of writing a novel of 50,000 words in a month. During the last couple of weeks, we have been following some of them.
The good news is: They survived! Not all of them hit the goal, but all claim that NaNoWriMo has been a valuable experience.
“Phew, I made it! I finished a few days ahead of time, not only reaching the word goal but actually finishing the story itself, too! What a great feeling. I struggled for quite some time before my characters actually started to do stuff “on their own” and I could just relax and write down what they were up to, but once I hit that mark, it was a great experience. I’ll be shelving that story for a year now to get some distance, but I’m about to take a look at my 2008 novel now and start to edit it to finally show a few friends. Who knows, maybe this year’s novel will be read by a few people down the road as well.”
Creativity is Julia Altermann’s favorite pastime, no matter if it is photography or all kinds of handicrafts. She first participated in NaNoWriMo in 2008 and managed to achieve the 50.000 words goal in the first instance.
“I didn’t win NaNo this year, but I wasn’t really expecting to, and winning wasn’t my primary goal. My goal was to establish a writing habit, writing at least several days a week if not everyday, and I did achieve that. So I consider my NaNoWriMo a success. In the coming weeks and months, I hope to cement the writing habit into my daily life, and continue work on the novel I’ve started. I like what I’ve written so far, and am excited to see it through to the end.”
Peter de Tagyos has always loved to read, and has successfully passed his love of books on to his two children. He earns a living by developing iOS apps, but dreams of publishing a novel.
“I learned a valuable lesson this month. While Nanowrimo is great for motivating writers through a first draft and to write everyday, I just don’t work this way. Although I do write everyday, I’m not a ‘bang a draft out’ writer. With that said, I am very happy with the 25,000 words I wrote and will continue to work on the novel at a pace that I’m more comfortable with. Setting a realistic deadline is on the table now. So I am not going to say I “lost” because I learned a lot from the experience. Loving the story I am writing is what continues to motivate me.”
Brian Henry Gray has been writing short stories since he was in grade school and has had several published over the years. He is originally from the northeastern United States, but currently resides in the Dallas, Texas area.
“I had an unusual problem — I finished telling my story around 46,000 words, which has never happened before! I added two scenes, but that wasn’t enough, so I ended up adding 250 words in an ‘except from the sequel’ which pushed me into the winner’s circle. I had a lot of fun crafting my story and the characters. I like my story — I think it’s a good one, and with some editing I think I’ll be happy to have it published. No editing until January, though — I need a break!”
His mother wanted Mel Walker to become a marine biologist, but he hopes to have kept her happy even if he became a programmer, working on land. Melvin has been doing NaNo since 2005 (albeit his first novel is, in his opinion, best forgotten).
“The end of November is here and I didn’t quite make my NaNoWriMo goal. But you know what? That’s okay. It was fun, and I have more than I would have if it wasn’t for NaNoWriMo. I think the draft of my novel will have to sit for a few weeks. But, in January I’ll probably pick it up again and read through it. I’m sure I’ll make many changes and end up with multiple revisions. As for what comes next, I think I’ll try doing some more reading than writing in the coming weeks. You can’t always put out, you need time to pull content in and revitalize yourself.”
Mike Ackerman is based in Portland and married to his high school sweetheart, with two dogs – a French bulldog and a chiweenie they recently rescued. He holds a bachelor’s degree in animation and a master’s degree in journalism.
“Did you win?” – “Not in the sense of hitting 50,000 words, but I do think I won in the sense of getting back into writing.” – “Are you confident with what you’ve achieved?” – “Yes, indeed. I think it’s good to be confident with any creative endeavor. :)” – “Did you have fun?” – “Absolutely! :)” – “What is going to happen to the novel draft you wrote now?” – “Finish the first pass, and then start the probably long cycles of rewrites and editing.” – “What are you going to do with all the free time you instantly have?” – “HA! What is this thing you speak of, free time. :)”
Writing challenges keep Sean Johnson motivated: He participated in the New Orleans Writing Marathon in July, and will elaborate the ideas generated there for NaNoWriMo.
“I did win! It was a relief to finally cross the 50,000 word mark. My plans for the novel now are to finish the last little bit (albeit not at the breakneck speed I’ve been writing to this point), get it printed, have my friends and family read and critique it, and make revisions. I found this year’s NaNoWriMo a little more challenging than past years. There were many days where writing at the end of my day was the last thing I wanted to do. But there were also many days where a perfect turn of phrase or a moment where everything came together in the story happened, and those events delighted me. So yes, overall it was fun and rewarding. ”
Martin Eisenloeffel is a writer by profession, albeit one of software manuals. In his spare time, he writes for pleasure, and if it’s not November, he also reads, takes pictures and occasionally creates some music.