ATK: Becky Black – NaNoWriMo

What’s behind four of my Loose Id novels? An event called NaNoWriMo.

If you haven’t heard of it, it’s this kind of crazy event where you write a fifty thousand word novel – or at least the first fifty thousand words of a novel – in a month. Specifically inside the thirty days of November. That’s a tough word count to reach, but it’s doable, with planning and dedication and thousands of people do it every year.

I’ve been doing it since 2006, long before I was writing for publication. Once I went pro I continued making it part of my writing regime and wrote the first drafts of four of my Loose Id novels during NaNoWriMo events. But it definitely isn’t just an event for pro writers or those who already write even as a hobby. It encourages those who haven’t written a story since school maybe to take a crack at it. It’s the perfect event for “one day” writers. Those who are going to write a book “one day”, when they have time. This elusive spare time in which to write a novel never actually arrives. Write it now, is the NaNoWriMo philosophy.

The first of my Loose Id ones that I drafted during NaNoWriMo was Higher Ground, in 2010. The year after I did the first of the Red Dragon series, The Company Man. Then in 2012 I was all set to draft the second Red Dragon book, but at the last minute I changed my mind. I was still working on the editing of The Company Man. I hadn’t sold it yet, and I feared that writing the next one before the first one was completed might be a mistake and give me extra work to do later – or worst case scenario, leave me with two unsold series books. Luckily I had this new plot bunny just raring to go, all ready to step into the breach. And it was about zombies, which is perfect NaNoWriMo fodder. That one became Patient Z. 2013’s NaNoWriMo draft was Dream For Me.

Notice I say draft for all of these. Some over-enthusiastic folks write their frantic NaNo novel draft and then launch it at long-suffering agents and publishers on December the 1st. That is of course very silly. All first drafts need some editing. Ones written in the white heat of NaNoWriMo may need more than most.

Why do I still do NaNoWriMo?

After eight straight NaNoWriMo wins, why do I still do it? I have nothing left to prove. I know I can write 50,000 words in the month. In fact I once did 107,000 words. (Note to self, never do that again.) And several times I’ve got well over 50,000 words. So why keep doing it?

I don’t commit to doing it every year these days. I don’t include it in my yearly goals. But if the timing works out (and somehow it usually does) I will do it. For various reasons:

  • It’s a great “reset”. Bad habits and time wasting accumulate over the months. NaNoWriMo means I have to focus on writing and cut out time sucks and distractions. It’s great for getting back to basics.
  • It gives me a great productivity boost. The “reset” effect is part of this. I focus on writing and make the best use of my writing time, instead of noodling around on Twitter for another ten minutes. But I can’t deny the effect a bit of healthy competition has on me. A deadline, some other people whose word count I want to stay ahead of for no good reason, and I get the red mist in my eyes. The collective energy of the event is great to tap into.
  • Every year is a little different. The second year is different from the first year. Some years the novel comes harder. One year I finished only through sheer bloody minded stubbornness and a refusal to fail. So even after eight goes at it, I’m not bored with it and know I’ll learn something new this year.

Speaking of learning something new, this year will be the first one I do with a new early morning writing regime I adopted earlier this year. It’s going to be very interesting to see how I do getting most or even all or my word count done before the day has even really started. Fingers crossed, by this time next year I might be saying FIVE of my Loose Id novels started as NaNoWriMo drafts…

Are you a NaNoer? Check out my profile on the site and buddy me if you want.

Higher Ground

The Company Man

Patient Z

Dream For Me

Ways and places to find me




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