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25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo « terribleminds: chuck wendig

Chuck is the author of the published novels: Blackbirds, Mockingbird, Under the Empyrean Sky, Blue Blazes, Double Dead, Bait Dog, Dinocalypse Now, Beyond Dinocalypse and Gods & Monsters: Unclean Spirits. He also the author of the soon-to-be-published novels: The Cormorant, Blightborn (Heartland Book #2), Heartland Book #3, Dinocalypse Forever, Frack You, and The Hellsblood Bride. Also coming soon is his compilation book of writing advice from this very blog: The Kick-Ass Writer, coming from Writers Digest.

He, along with writing partner Lance Weiler, is an alum of the Sundance Film Festival Screenwriter’s Lab (2010). Their short film, Pandemic, showed at the Sundance Film Festival 2011, and their feature film HiM is in development with producers Ted Hope and Anne Carey. Together they co-wrote the digital transmedia drama Collapsus, which was nominated for an International Digital Emmy and a Games 4 Change award.

Chuck has contributed over two million words to the game industry, and was the developer of the popular Hunter: The Vigil game line (White Wolf Game Studios / CCP). He was a frequent contributor to The Escapist, writing about games and pop culture.

Much of his writing advice has been collected in various writing- and storytelling-related e-books.

He currently lives in the forests of Pennsyltucky with wife, two dogs, and tiny human.

He is likely drunk and untrustworthy. This blog is NSFW and probably NSFL.

You may reach him at terribleminds [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Who Is Chuck Wendig?

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. This is his blog. He talks a lot about writing. And food. And the madness of toddlers. He uses lots of naughty language. NSFW. Probably NSFL. Be advised.

25 Things You Should Know About NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of the year, then, that normal everyday men and women get a hankering for the taste of ink and misery, thus choosing to step into the arena to tangle with the NaNoWriMo beast.

Here, then, are 25 of my thoughts regarding this month-long pilgrimage into the mouth of the novel — peruse, digest, then discuss. Feel free to hit the comments and add your own thoughts to the tangle.

1. Writing Requires Writing

The oft-repeated refrain, “Writers write,” is as true a sentiment as one can find, and yet so many self-declared writers seem to ignore it just the same. National Novel Writing Month — NaNoWriMo, which sounds like like the more formalized greeting used by Mork when calling home to Ork — demands that writers shit or get off the pot. It says, you’re a writer, soget to scrawling, motherfucker.

2. Writing Requires Finishing

The other giant sucking chest wound that afflicts a great many so-called writers is the inability to finish a single fucking thing. Not a novel, not a script, not a short story. (One wonders how many unfinished manuscripts sit collecting dust like a shelf full of Hummel figurines in an old cat lady’s decrepit Victorian manse.) NaNoWriMo lays down the law: you have a goal and that goal is to finish.

3. Discipline, With A Capital “Do That Shit Every Day, Son”

The way you survive NaNoWriMo is the same way any novelist survives: by spot-welding one’s ass to the office chair every day and putting the words to screen and paper no matter what. Got a headache? Better write. Kid won’t stop crying? Better write. Life is hard and weepy-pissy-sadfaced-panda-noises? Fuck you and write. Covered in killer bees? Maybe today’s not the best day to write. You might want to call somebody. Just don’t pee in fear. Bees can smell fear-urine. Pee is to bees as catnip is to cats.

4. The Magic Number Is 1666

Ahh. The Devil’s vintage. Ahem. Anyway. To hit 50,000 words in one month, you must write at least 1,666 words per day over the 30 day period. I write about 1000 words in an hour, so you’re probably looking at two to three hours worth of work per day. If you choose to not work weekends, you’ll probably need to hit around 2300 words per day. If you’re only working weekends, then ~6000 per day.

5. The Problem With 50,000 Words

Be advised: 50,000 words does not a novel make. It may technically count, but publishers don’t want to hear it. Even in the young adult market I’d say that most novels hover around 60,000 words. You go to a publisher with 50k in hand and call it a novel, they’re going to laugh at you. And whip your naked ass with a towel. And put that shit on YouTube so everybody can have a chortle or three. Someone out there is surely saying, “Yes, but what if I’m self-publishing?” Oh, don’t worry, you intrepid DIY’ers. I’ll get to you.

6. The True Nature Of “Finishing”

For the record, I’m not a fan of referring to one’s sexual climax as “finishing.” It’s so… final. “I have finished. I am complete. Snooze Mode, engaged!” I prefer “arrived.” Sounds so much more festive! As if there’s more on the way! This party’s just getting started! … wait, I’m talking about the wrong type of finishing, aren’t I? Hm. Damn. Ah, yes, NaNoWriMo. Writing 50,000 words is your technical goal — completing a novel in those 50,000 words is not. You can turn in an unfinished novel and be good to go. The only concern there is that 50,000 words serves only as a milestone and come December it again becomes oh-so-easy to settle in with the “I’ve Written Part Of A Novel” crowd. Always remember: the only way through is through.

7. Draft Zero

It helps to look at your NaNoWriMo novel as the zero draft — it has a beginning, it has an ending, it has a whole lot of something in the middle. The puzzle pieces are all on the table and, at the very least, you’ve got an image starting to come together (“is that a dolphin riding side-saddle on a mechanical warhorse through a hail of lasers?”). But the zero draft isn’t done cooking. A proper first draft awaits. A first draft that will see more meat slapped onto those exposed bones, taking your word count into more realistic territory.

8. Quantity Above Quality

Put differently, the end result of any written novel is quality. You’re looking for that thing to shine like a stiletto and be just as sharp. NaNoWriMo doesn’t ask for or judge quality as part of its end goal. To “win” the month, you could theoretically write the phrase “nipple sandwich” 25,000 times and earn yourself a little certificate. Quantity must be spun into quality. You’ve got all the sticks. Now build yourself a house.

9. Beware “Win” Conditions

If you complete NaNoWriMo, I give you permission to feel like a winner. If you don’t, I do not — repeat, awooga, awooga, do not — give you permission to feel like a loser. This is one of the perils of the gamification of novel-writing, the belief that by racking up a certain score (word count) in a pre-set time-frame (one month for everybody), you win. And by not doing this, well, fuck you, put another quarter in the machine, dongface. Which leads me to:

10. We’re Not All Robots Who Follow The Same Pre-Described Program

NaNoWriMo assumes a single way of writing a novel. Part of this equation — “smash brain against keyboard until story bleeds out” — is fairly universal. The rest is not. For every novelist comes a new path cut through the jungle. Some novelists write 1000 words a day. Some 5000 words a day. Some spend more time on planning, others spend a year or more writing. Be advised that NaNoWriMo is not a guaranteed solution, nor is your “failure to thrive” in that program in any way meaningful. I tried it years back and found it just didn’t fit for me. (And yet I remain!) It is not a bellwether of your ability or talent.

11. November Is A Shitty Month

November. The month of Thanksgiving. The month where people start shopping for Christmas. The month where we celebrate National Pomegranate Month (NaPoGraMo?). Yeah. Not a great month to pick to get stuff done. Just be aware that November presents its own unique challenges to novelists of any stripe, much less those doing a combat landing during NaNoWriMo. Know this going in.

12. The Perfect Is The Enemy Of The Good

NaNoWriMo gets one lesson right: writing can at times be like a sprint and you can’t hover over every day’s worth of writing, picking ticks and mites from its hair — you will always find more ticks, more mites. The desire for perfection is like a pit of wet coal silt: it will grab your boots like iron hands and never let you go.

13. Total Suckity-Ass Donkey Crap Is Also The Enemy Of The Good

On the other hand, is this novel is the equivalent of you shitting your diaper and then rubbing your poopy butt up against the walls of your plexiglass enclosure, then what’s the fucking point?

14. You Have Permission To Suck — Temporarily

The point is, you’re not aiming to be a shitty writer with prose on par with a mouthful of toilet water, but you must allow yourself permission to embrace imperfection. You’re not trying to write irreparable fiction, you’re trying to make a go at a flawed story whose bones are good but whose components may need rebuilding. Imperfect is not the same as impossible.

15. NaStoPlaMo

Take October. Name it “National Story Planning Month.” Whatever you’re going to do in November, you don’t have to go in blind. You’ve no requirement, after all, to suddenly leap out of bed on November 1st, crack open your head with an ice ax, and let the story come pouring from the cleft. Spontaneous generation is a myth in science as it is in creative spheres. Plan. Prep. Take a month. Get your mise en place in place.

16. NaEdYoShiMo

December then becomes “National Edit Your Shit Month.” Or, if you need a month away from it, maybe you come back to it in January — but the point is, always come back to it. If you want to do this novel writing thing then you must come to terms with the fact that rewriting is part of a novel’s life-cycle. Repeat the mantra: Writing is when I make the words. Editing is when I make them not shitty.

17. The Stats Bear Ogling

In 2009, NaNo had 167,150 participants, and 32,178 “winners.” That’s a pretty good rate, just shy of 20% completion. The numbers get a bit more telling when you look at the number of published novels that have come out of the entire ten-year program, and that number appears to be below 200 books. Out of the 500,000 or so total participants of NaNo over the years, that’s a very minor 0.04%. This isn’t an indictment against NaNoWriMo but is, however, an illustrative number just the same: it’s harder than the Devil’s dangle-rod in a cobalt-tungsten condom to get published these days.

18. Why Some Authors Dismiss NaNoWriMo

Professional authors — perhaps unfairly — sometimes look at the program with a dismissive sniff or a condescending eye roll. Look at it from their perspective: NaNo participants might seem on par with tourists. Professional authors live here all year. We are what we are all the time. And then others come along and, for one month, dance around on our beaches and poop in the water and pretend to be native. The point is, don’t act like a haole, haole. Don’t be like that girl in college who kissed girls and called herself a lesbian even though she was really just doing it to get other guys hot under the scrotum collar. And pro authors, don’t act like prigs and pricks, either. Drop the dismissal. Most of us are all trying to share the same weird wordmonkey dream, and that’s a thing to be celebrated, not denigrated.

19. Why Some Agents And Editors Despise NaNoWriMo

If the story holds true, agents and editors receive a flush of slush from NaNoWriMo in the months following November. A heaping midden pile of bad prose which, for the record, only serves to block the door for everybody else with its stinky robustness. You may say, “But I’m not going to do that.” Of course you’re not, but somebody probably is. And those that spam every agent or editor with their half-cocked garbage novel should be dragged around by their balls or labia and then fed to a pen full of rutting pigs.

20. The Self-Publishing Marketplace Is Not Your Vomit Bag

Just as you should not run to agents and editors with your fetal draft, you should not instantly fling it like a booger into the marketplace. Novels, like whisky and wine, need time.

21. The NaNoWriMo Website Isn’t Doing Itself Any Favors

The text on the NaNoWriMo website is, for me, a point of dismissal and does little to engender respect from professional writers (as opposed to, say, the participants, who often do earn that respect). Check, for example, the text identifying why you should participate: “The reasons are endless! To actively participate in one of our era’s most enchanting art forms! To write without having to obsess over quality. To be able to make obscure references to passages from our novels at parties. To be able to mock real novelists who dawdle on and on, taking far longer than 30 days to produce their work.” Yes, we stupid novelists, what with our interest in quality and our inability to produce a perfect draft in 30 days. Sometimes I want to kick the NaNoWriMo website in its non-existent digital crotch.

22. Engage The Community (But Realize That Writing Is Up To You)

November sees a flurry of activity on the novel-writing front, and you can harness that energy by engaging with the community. Just the same — at the end of the day it’s you and your word count. Nobody can do this shit for you. When it all comes down to it, you’re the one motherfucker who can slay this dragon and make a hat from his skull, a coat from his scales, and a tale from his tongue.

23. Fuck The Police

NaNoWriMo has a lot of rules: you’re supposed to “start fresh,” you’re not really meant to work on non-fiction, blah blah blah. This is all just made-up stuff. It’s not government mandated. This isn’t taxes, for fuck’s sake. Do what you like. Even better: do what the story needs. Hell with the rules. Fuck the police. Write. Write endlessly. Don’t be constrained by this program. It’s just a springboard: use it to launch your way to awesomeness. Anything you don’t like about it, toss it out the window. That certificate you get at the end doesn’t mean dog dick. The only thing that matters is you and your writing.

24. Be Aware Of Variants

Have you seen ROW80, or, A Round of Words in 80 Days? I’ve also seen smaller variants about writing scripts and non-fiction projects. Come up with your own variant if you must. NaNoWriMo is just a means to an end — it’s just one path up the mountain. Other exist, so find them if this one doesn’t seem your speed.

25. November Is Just Your Beginning

If you get to the end of the month with a manuscript — finished or not — in hand, celebrate. Do a little dance. Eat a microwaved pizza, do a shot of tequila, take off your pants and burn them in the fireplace. And then think, “Tomorrow, I’ve got more to do.” Because this is just the start. I don’t mean that to sound punishing — if it sounds punishing, you shouldn’t be a writer. It should be fucking liberating. It should fill your heart with a flutter of eager wings: “Holy shit! I can do this tomorrow, too! I can do this in December and January and any day of the goddamn week I so choose.” Don’t stop on November 30th. You want to do this thing, do this thing. Your energy and effort can turn NaNoWriMo from a month-long gimmick to a life-long love and possibly even a career. Let this foster in you a love of storytelling made real through discipline — and don’t let that love or that discipline wither on the vine come December 1st.

* * *

Want another booze-soaked, profanity-laden shotgun blast of dubious writing advice?


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  • Eve Greenwood

    October 9, 2011 at 8:52 AM // Reply

    I definitely agree that the guidelines are just that — guidelines. No one’s going to kick your door down and riddle you with bullets if you don’t stick to the “rules”. I use NaNoWriMo as a way to power through my novel; I usually find it difficult to sit down and write every day, but this year I aim to write 30,000 words in November and finally finish this first draft. Great advice again, Chuck!

  • Charlie E/N

    October 10, 2011 at 6:45 AM // Reply

    NaNoWriMo can be a great experience. I’ve done it for the last few years now. My first attempt I passed by about 600 words and then had a novella which was good in places, but the edit wasn’t just going to be an edit. I started with an unorthodox narrative type (collective first person present) and then kept falling out of it. That’s a shame as going through the proofreading copy I abandoned like a red-headed stepchild, there’s a lot of greatness. The problem is that I was simultaniously too precious (hence the tiny wordcount) and too disorganised (hence the tense) and to edit it would mean ripping every sentence apart and that’s why I figure I’ll do another draft of it.

    Last year I wrote 70,000 words for a novel I’m now finished with (see step “Fuck to Police”) and was vastly more organised, both in wordcount and plot. This was the third incarnation of a novel I’d prepared for an was ready to go at it full on. This one yielded the best results, and I realised I was far more serious than I was the year before about my work.

    If you reckon you can do it, then definitely try.

  • Toni

    October 11, 2011 at 11:35 PM // Reply

    sir,you are now my new found mentor (whether you like it or not).

    i did nanowrimo last year….during midterms and finals….it was insane…i was insane but i was glad i did it…except i haven’t looked at the story since….it makes me nervous….

  • Nadina Boun

    November 1, 2011 at 7:11 PM // Reply

    Hey, I just joined that Nanowrimo challenge, and I am against the quantity versus quality kind of thing yet by joining I made myself abide by some restraints that will perhaps lead me to complete a long story or novel say, be it in 30 days or longer for that matter, which is more likely to be the case. I usually write poetry, plays and short stories so this is more of a challenge then it is anything else. However, that being said, it was nice to read your post and get others’ intake on this project. I agree with many points you stated here but it could also be a test or experience to many of us who think of adopting the path of writing. Cheers!

  • Sophia Chang

    November 3, 2011 at 11:09 PM // Reply

    I hated those fake lesbians in college! I wrote plays about them!

  • David

    November 29, 2011 at 9:17 AM // Reply

    Just completed my 50,000 words for NaNoWriMo and I am really pleased that I did it. I learnt a lot by doing it, not least this myself a good writing work ethic. I am fairly sure that what I have written so far on this novel is complete rubbish, but I’m still proud of my achievement.

  • Mary Beth Frezon

    December 1, 2011 at 11:07 AM // Reply

    Just lived through my first NaNoWriMo, and my first experience in the realm of lengthy writing. I went in blind, and found a story and characters and the whole thing was astounding. I’m not pretending it’s the great novel because it sure isn’t at the moment.

    It was sure a kick in the creative butt though. In the normal creative stuff I do, the idea comes first and some planning, followed by a long period of just persistent work to make the thing come together. I love that and it’s a huge part of my life.

    This was pulling out the ideas as I went, wondering how the heck it was all going to work, trying not to worry about all the final details until I had to. I was amazed that the characters really did seem to know what to do next. The process felt much like reading a book that compelled me to keep going in order to find out what the next page holds.

    In that sense, I think the tone and impetus of NaNoWriMo are spot on – to encourage people to DO something creative. No promises of fame or glory, just the huge personal rush and satisfaction of being there doing it.

  • Andy Decker

    August 27, 2012 at 8:29 PM // Reply

    It’s a month long learning curve for anybody who ever wanted to write a novel and needs some impetus or handholding or motivation via the mob to do so. Everybody has to start somewhere and NaNoWriMo is as good a place as any. It shows people it can be done and instills some of the work ethic required – learn by doing and all that. Even if a person ends up with a bucket of crap it’s their hard-earned bucket of crap. I did my first one in ’05 or so and I thought the amount of writing was impossible. Now if I don’t finish 2,000 words a day I think bad thoughts about myself. And yeah, it’s mostly still crap.

  • Brandon Toropov

    September 1, 2012 at 2:38 PM // Reply

    Awesome overview, for which many thanks, especially the business about ignoring the police. Bravo!

    You may (or may not) want to fix the minor typo on #13 where you have “is the novel” instead of “if the novel” — stopped me, may stop others. Or, if left as is, it may serve as a valuable object lesson in WRITING THE SOLID FIRST DRAFT AND EDITING LATER, PEOPLE!

    A fine piece. Again, many thanks.

  • nikki

    October 8, 2012 at 10:18 PM // Reply

    bit in your face but this is probably the most valuable writeup on Nanoetc that i have read so far. =) i especially like the last few points. I use the challenge mostly to get myself going, i doubt i will be disciplined enough to go all the way in just one month, but i know i will benefit from the pressure and competition a little. also very happy about finding this blog actually..

  • Elizabeth West

    October 14, 2012 at 11:53 AM // Reply

    #16 – That’s my favorite part of writing: rewriting and editing. HATE first drafts. HATE.

    The only reason I’m considering doing NaNoWriMo this year is just to finish the damn current WIP. It’s not my first book, and it’s definitely one of the better concepts I’ve had, but it’s beating its head against the wall for some stupid reason.

    I think I will. I will do it. I’m posting about it right now. And I will link to this post because it is teh awesome.

  • NL

    October 23, 2012 at 11:39 PM // Reply

    Love this article.

    While I disagree with a lot of NaNoWriMo’s rules and “motivators”, I look at it as a vacation. I write every day and put up a lot of words but it gets lonely – just my cat and me. NaNoWriMo is a time where I go out to multiple write-ins every week to spend time with other writers and write. I do get annoyed with a lot of the fledgling writers especially those that give me crap because I spend the month writing poetry/novels in verse rather than the “traditional” novel, and they act like I am not writing anything. News flash: writing 50K of poetry is extremely difficult.

  • Keri Peardon

    October 31, 2012 at 11:11 AM // Reply

    I “NaNered” in 2009 because I was unemployed with no job in sight and was depressed. I thought it was a goal I could reach.

    Little did I expect that I would come away with a viable novel (and plans for two more). I recently published that novel. Last year’s novel is getting broken into two and I hope to publish the first installment next year (although my editing is going slow, so it’s not looking too good). I’m working on a new project this year, which may end up as a novella or as a novel.

    Thanks to NaNo for getting me started, I have recovered my dreams of being a writer (after college writing classes killed all love of writing in me) and hope to be doing it full-time in a year or two.

  • Rachel

    November 1, 2012 at 1:48 PM // Reply

    YOU’RE FUNNY. seriously though

  • amuletts

    November 3, 2012 at 7:59 AM // Reply

    For me NaNoWriMo is a way to stop me going back and endlessly editing the same pages, rather than moving forward with the story. It’s an easy trap to fall in to. It’s also a chance to say to all those people you know who say they want to write a novel ‘stop fannying about and DO IT then.’ If they then proceed to do nothing in future you have the right to stop listening to them go on endlessly about their ‘novel’ and instead tell them to STFU. Seriously – you will not believe the number of ‘writers’ who have never written anything!! IMO if you participate in NaNoWriMo you have the right to call yourself a writer, just not a PROFESSIONAL writer – see the difference there? But yes – embrace writers who actually write, even for just a month.

  • L. Anne Carrington

    November 5, 2012 at 3:27 PM // Reply

    This is my first year of NaNoWriMo. I already started planning my novel in early October after the last novel I finished was published in Kindle format (paperback coming sometime in 2013). I don’t have to bother searching for a publisher, since I’ve had one the last two years or so anyway.

    As for not editing during NaNo? Pffft. I do it anyway, especially now that I’m closing in on the magical first 50,000 words (I started right at midnight on November 1, and had a BIG writing weekend this past one). As my parents used to say, “Do it right or don’t do it at all.” Of course, I’ll probably edit again come December 1, because there’s bound to be something I’ll find that doesn’t satisfy me. I’m picky that way. =D

  • Enigmatic Me

    November 12, 2012 at 12:25 PM // Reply

    I’ve begun posting poems and ‘articles’ on a community based website.. its been interesting, and I like the comments. Though it still (after a couple of years) hasn’t brought me to a point where I share any of my longer written stories. NaNoWriMo appears to be a very good idea. Poetry comes easy… its something I can write within minutes, and post without thinking. A work of fiction, I am guilty of prodding and preening while I write….keeping my word count down and keeping me relatively motionless. I’m looking for something that will actually push me towards movement, help me reconstruct my way of looking at writing. Time will only tell.

  • Linda Brown

    March 1, 2013 at 7:23 AM // Reply

    Ummm!? Well I’m perhaps no writer but I do get complaints from all and sundry about my so called “Long Txt Messages!!” Does that qualify?
    My Son will reward me for short succinct msg., (abreviations extra exta rewards!!) by a simply Reply!
    I often ask him, “Son , is that a threat or a promise?”
    To which naturally I get NO reply.
    My sisters in law, yes all of them, (except one is actually a daughter in law) say,
    “Oh Linda I always KEEP your txt till I get home and I can put my feet up and enjoy!!!!” ????
    Me, still sitting in my car without petrol…it gets dark, darker REALLY DARK!!
    That’s when I txt my Son one of those short and to the point txt’s!
    Love Mum xxx
    Anyway I really had a question referring to your comment on “bees/urine and the smell of fear??
    I wondered if you’d heard of Ones Urinating dude to ANGER!!????
    Or is it just me?
    Thank you

  • iwriterist

    April 11, 2013 at 1:44 AM // Reply

    I’ve read this about 11 times now. The first few times I came for wonderful advice.i have to say the article is very informative and I do come for knowledge purposes. Today, I’m a feeling a little down so I came for a laugh at all the Step Titles. Thank you for making this post.

  • theredlion4

    September 11, 2013 at 1:16 PM // Reply

    Unfortunately, I’m one of those so-called writers who struggles to finish… I do fine with short stories, but when it comes to writing novels I seem to hit a rut and get too stuck on deciding which path the plot should take or little details that get in the way of continuing. I am going to do NaNo for the first time this year, so it was great to read another perspective on it. I think I will end up using it just as a way to force myself to plow through the little details and just keep moving the story forward.

  • Heather

    September 23, 2013 at 1:27 PM // Reply

    The only real problem I have with your blog here, Chuck, is #23.

    NaNoWriMo has no police. Now, we’ve got a forum where, if you ask specifically about the rules, we’ll tell you what they are. But there’s not a lot of them. Hell, you have more “rules” here than we do! What I tell people all the time in the forums is that “this is a self challenge” — there are reasons for the rules we have, but if they don’t work for you, we don’t care. You’re not flouting the police, you’re just doing what thousands have done before you. IN fact, we’ve worked to build a culture of welcoming. Every so often, some new fellow comes along and starts wielding the 8 paragraph “rulebook” like they know something everyone doesn’t.

    And I politely hand him his ass, and tell him to pipe down. “Cheaters” are welcome, and people who call them cheaters get their asses handed to them, as well. Usually by the community, but if they don’t get them, I do.

    We’ve never claimed to have one way of doing it. That’s why I even wrote a blog a while back about being a “loser” and being okay with that.

    In the end, we all want one thing. MORE FUCKING WORDS. Write more fucking words, people, and do it from a smoky dark room in your mom’s basement. Do it in public. Do it with friends. Do it with the forums community. Just fucking do it already.

  • grfrazier

    October 12, 2013 at 12:45 AM // Reply

    Good grief! How can anyone devote time to writing when it’s National Pomegranate Month? I mean, there are parades, community picnics, baking contests … I could go on.

  • stellasvirtualcafe

    October 23, 2013 at 11:39 AM // Reply

    Yup, this is my first NaNoWriMo and I’m seeing it as a springboard into the commitment of a novelist’s life. If I, and my family can hack November, whatever happens, then the woild is my oyster…sort of. Thanks for your points, graphic as they may be. Writing, like love, is a messy business.

  • Raven

    October 30, 2013 at 1:19 PM // Reply

    The numbers at the end get to the truth of the matter for me of late, which I talked about a few months ago on my site ( ), especially the quality over quantity aspect. I do NaNo every month because I’m a writer. That doesn’t make NaNo a bad thing–but I definitely see it as something I’ve outgrown as a professional writer. I love that it encourages others to write! BIC–Butt in chair–is crucial to beginning and continuing a writing career.

  • Alicia Rades

    November 1, 2013 at 6:17 PM // Reply

    I really enjoyed your writing style in this article. It was hilarious. But at the same time, I really didn’t like how you put down NaNoWriMo. It’s not supposed to be a challenge to publish a novel. It’s supposed to encourage writing. Published authors aren’t the only ones with the right to write, and this gives people a reason to write. I think it’s a great challenge and that writing 50,000 words IS an accomplishment.

  • Awillaway

    November 2, 2013 at 3:22 AM // Reply

    I absolutely love this article! I had argued with my husband in years past that a great novel simply could not be written in a month. I have been sitting on a novel for a while now and I am much more guilty of piling up non-finished manuscripts than I am completing my work. I’m seeing Nanowrimo as a challenge to that particular type of behavior than anything else. I’m seeing it as the end of writing as a hobby and the beginning of a viable career.

  • imsupersaiyan

    November 2, 2013 at 6:10 PM // Reply

    LOLLLLLL THIS WAS GREAT! I laughed the whole way through, so true.

  • jdooley

    November 3, 2013 at 10:25 AM // Reply

    Thank you. I’m finishing up the first draft of my first novel this month – a book I started writing in April – and now I think I’ll hold of on submitting to agents until the crush of half-written manuscripts ebbs. I have a lot of editing to do anyway. For what it’s worth, I found this post by doing a search for “does nanowrimo produce a lot of crappy novels” because I can’t imagine producing my novel in a month (currently 123,000 words and counting…)

  • heatherp74

    November 3, 2013 at 6:51 PM // Reply

    I’m going to try it. I wrote almost 2 pages last night but still don’t know if I really have a story!

  • Luv peppy

    November 7, 2013 at 4:15 PM // Reply

    i read this in 15 mins and that’s how long it took me to fall in love with your writing..thanks for sharing this! i followed a link here because i was curious about the i don’t want to leave.

    • Nicole Cushing

      November 12, 2013 at 2:06 PM // Reply

      In regard to 50K not being a real novel… several Mamatas novels are in the neighborhood, as well as the first installment of the new VanderMeer. Common denominator? Publishers outside of the narrow SF/F community (mainstream publisher for VanderMeer, DarkHorse and other indie publishers, for Mamatas).

  • AJ Knauss

    November 29, 2013 at 2:47 PM // Reply

    First novel, took 7 years to write. Not published. Second novel, one year to write, one year to edit, published, selling modestly. Now going back and hacking/editing/gutting the first novel. It is not one size fits all but anything that lights the fire is good. And it has been a fun road mostly…except for those stretches of hating the words on the page and going cross-eyed from the blinky bastard little cursor. Oh, the writer’s life.

  • RCudlitz

    November 30, 2013 at 7:16 PM // Reply

    Just finished and “won” my first NaNoWriMo. Completely dug the ridiculousness. Love the fact that the arbitrary deadline showed me that I was completely full of shit when I said life got in the way of my writing. I’m a mom and not used to putting myself first. Well now my kids can suck it. I am well on my way to a hot mess of a first draft and I couldn’t be happier.

  • sterlingdh

    June 17, 2014 at 5:38 PM // Reply

    Chuck, you are the true definition of “hilarious.” Somehow you are able to combine vulgar writing with down-to-earth inspiration. For that I salute you.

  • Callum Goss (@IBeCallum1)

    July 14, 2014 at 7:55 AM // Reply

    This has been the most entertaining ‘X Things You Should Know About Y’ I have read. It may been longer, but I prefer an entertaining several thousand word piece, as opposed to a strict, boring short piece that if printed and blended into a drink would taste like water. But water doesn’t taste of anything? Shut up!

  • jademwong

    October 25, 2014 at 10:27 AM // Reply

    I don’t know how you do it, Chuck, but the balance between vulgarity and straight-out inspirational hilarity is on point. I stumbled onto this post because I was curious about the NaNo..and this was exactly what I needed to read.

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