Kelly Maher


Nanowrimo

I’m not officially participating in Nanowrimo this year even though I’m registered since I decided to focus on writing *and* editing a novella. A novella is typically 25,000-30,000 words long, so significantly short of the 50,000 minimum for winning Nano. I’ve been at least signed up for Nano since my days of grad school. I won with the first draft of what eventually became End Balance in 2004.

I consider Nano to be a dual-edged sword. The year I won, I wanted nothing to do with writing for months afterward. I’d burned myself out. I seriously tried again the year after, but I recognized the beginning stages of burn out and I abandoned the project. I was not ready to write at that speed and have it be sustainable. I have always meant writing to be a second (and at times, third) income for myself. To have a steady income, you need a sustainable business model. Up until this last year, the pace needed to win Nano did not meet that criteria for me. This year, I think I could have easily won it, providing I was working on an appropriate project.

For the issues I had after winning Nano, at the end of the day, I did have a first draft of a story I was eventually able to go back and rewrite and revise and shape into a publishable manuscript. I think I cut at least a third, if not half, of the original draft of EB. Nano, for some people, is a means to write and nothing more. They do it for the love of writing, which is a fabulous thing. For other people, it’s a way to kickstart their work on a project they know is going to be longer, but they need the initial push to spew out the words.

Nano is what you make of it, but it is only one tool in the writer’s toolbox. If it isn’t getting the job done for you, use something else. Next year, I may work my writing schedule so I can dedicate November to a project of appropriate length and win once again. We’ll see. Are you doing Nano this year? Good luck if you are!

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