12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

We’re going to share some of our experiences with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in an effort to encourage you to participate in ways that will advance you toward your goals.

Note: After a week, this is the only photo we’ve found of Wounded Howard. Dan took it, and Howard was clearly putting on “angry face” for show.  Also, he doesn’t look nearly as pale as any of us remember him looking.IMG_2633

Credits: this episode was recorded in Cosmere House Studios by Dan Dan the Audioman Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson


Do NaNoWrimo in a way that matches your personal goals.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

18 thoughts on “12.44: NaNoWriMo 2017 Primer”

  1. Thank you for this.

    The emphatic reminders that it doesn’t have to be perfect the instant words hit paper (physical or virtual), that the good words are often hiding in or behind the junk, and that yes, you do get to edit the whole thing before anyone else looks at it, is very much needed by some of us (namely, me).

    “Use this month to make words that you would not have made otherwise” is the best advice someone like me can hear, I think.

    Also appreciated is the statement that NaNoWriMo is a tool, and that all the advice and ideas presented in Writing Excuses are tools. I’ve seen so much writing advice and instruction that treats formulas, structures, systems, etc — whether it’s the Hollywood Formula, Campbell’s works, or whatever — as Prescriptive Truth, rather than descriptive or utilitarian. At least for me, the formulaic approach is so off-putting that it’s very helpful and refreshing to read or hear clear statements that stand counter to that all-too-common “paint by numbers” advice.

    1. This really hit a mark for me too as I struggle far too often to really write the perfect paragraph. It keeps me from practicing and thus getting better in the long run. I allow myself too many excuses, but this weekly listen helps me realize there are NO excuses!!

  2. Each of my NaNoWriMo experiences has built on the last.

    2015, I thought about it seriously and never did anything.

    2016, I actually gave it a try intending to find out all the things I did not know. I can’t say I found them all out. One of the things I found out was how close November is to Christmas and holeee carp I’ve got to buy gifts and cards and I barely got it all organized and out in time.

    Which is before the actual lessons that apply to writing a book. Mary had great advice a few years back: The best thing I can do to help my NaNoWriMo out is plan the book out as much as I could in advance. Learn it, live it, breathe it. And I probably didn’t do enough of it this year either.

    2017: Last year’s attempt was intended to be an “Instant Trunk Novel” that I was writing to learn writing a novel and couldn’t morally try to sell since it used characters and settings that don’t belong to me.

    Over 2017 I realized I wanted to practice trying to sell it. Which means I needed something I could sell. I had to file off all the serial numbers and rebuild my characters and setting so I wouldn’t be infringing on or plagiarizing other people’s work.

    The biggest thing for me is giving myself permission to try and fail, which might be counterproductive for someone else but isn’t for me. It lets me out of goal-oriented mode and lets me focus on the journey, not fixate on the end.

    1. That last part… permission to miss the mark on “perfection”… that’s something I struggle with.

  3. I had fun checking out the 4thewords site Mary mentioned! You may want to post a correction in the liner notes, however. Mary said they are based in Brazil, and their website says San Jose, Costa Rica.

    Looking forward to battling my first monster. For anyone else interested, there is a 30-day free trial, so it would be possible to test it out for Nano before committing. (For the record, the subscription rate is not expensive).

  4. Don’t worry, Mary. You’re quite right, the whole marathon thing *is* crazy.

    The original legend the run is based on is about a Greek soldier–a guy at the absolute peak of physical fitness–running that distance and then promptly collapsing and dying from the exertion of it. When you see some ordinary shlub trying to do that, you can’t help but wonder… WHY?!?

  5. And, as November looms, the original quartet gets together to warble about Na(tional)No(vel)Wri(ting)Mo(nth), better known as Nanowrimo! Write 50,000 words in a month? Why would anyone do that? Well, Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard talk about it, from a number of perspectives, and challenge each of us to think about how we could use the month to push our own writing a bit further! Transcript available in the archives and over here:


    Just think, writing every day, a couple of thousand words a day makes the novel grow!

  6. He ran about 240 km (150 mi) in two days. He then ran the 40 km (25 mi) from the battlefield near Marathon to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persia in the Battle of Marathon (490 BC) with the word νικῶμεν (nikomen[8] “We win!”), as stated by Lucian chairete, nikomen (“hail, we are the winners”)[9] and then collapsed and died.


  7. This is he best writing podcast by far. And this one didn’t dissapoint.
    This isn’t my first year trying to NaNo, but I’d like it to be the year I win.
    I wanted share my favorite quote:
    “Inspiration is the reward of persistance, not a haphazard dependence.” – Nicolai Rimsey-Kosakov

  8. A word of exhortation to those of you who couldn’t participate in this year’s Nanowrimo for one reason or another: You can still set some personal writing goals to check off when the month is complete. For example, this month I’ll attend a few Nanowrimo write-ins, but instead of the normal 50k word goal I’ll enter 2 short writing contests, and I’ll put the finishing touches on my first novel before sending it out for editorial review.

  9. Coincidentally, about 6 weeks ago, I almost sliced almost to the bone near the end of my left index finger when a knife snagged in a package I was trying to open and everything kinda flipped around. I had to learn to type 7-fingered, and then after a month learn to type 8-fingered again. There’s still noticeable scar tissue inside where it healed.

  10. Howard looks like a Hasidic Sorcerer in that picture; he’s only missing the bit wrapped around his arm. (Just my first impression there).

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