Thursday, November 3, 2011

Evidence of Writers, Worldwide, Gone Mad? NaNoWriMo in Full Swing


Each November, novelists all over the world - young and old, newbies and veterans - take on the challenge: Write a 50,000 (or more) novel in just 30 days. It took me over three years to write my first novel, EMILY'S HOUSE, due to hit Amazon November 15 (*crowd roars*). It took me about six months to bang out first draft of my second, H.A.L.F., which I hope to have revised and on sale Spring, 2012. So I thought NaNoWriMo would be a good opportunity for me to challenge myself to write EMILY'S TRIAL, Book 2 of the Emily Adams series, faster. Fifty thousand words in 30 days? Why not! Two days in I'm close to 6000 words so I'm on pace. I'm pleased to share with you this guest post from Sean Madden. Enjoy!

NaNoWriMo: Writing a Novel in the Month of November

© Copyright 2011 Sean M. Madden. All Rights Reserved.

For years I've known National Novel Writing Month was lurking out there, occasionally making itself known via friends who brazenly placed NaNoWriMo badges on their blogs, spouted off about writing a novel in a month, and so on.

But, finally, after sitting on this for a few weeks, I decided late this past Saturday night that it was high time to sign up and commit myself — not to the loony bin, but to hashing out my own 50,000-word novel in the month of November.

That's right, a novel in a month.

On average, that amounts to 1,667 words per day, seven days a week, no days off. No small task, particularly when the vast majority of participants, referred to as wrimos, are likewise earning a living, earning a degree, or taking care of children and other loved ones.

Not only that. There are also children, or young folk at least, who are writing their own novels in a month. One such brave soul sent me my first NaNoWriMo ‘Writing Buddy’ invitation on Sunday morning. I don't know his whole real name, but his NaNoWriMo profile ( says he's a 17-year-old Harry Potter fan from the Philippines.

I accepted the invitation, of course, as I'll need all the help I can get despite the fact that I earn my living as a creative writing (and mindful living) teacher, guide and mentor.

My new writing buddy and I will be joining somewhere in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million participants, worldwide, who have likewise committed to writing a novel within the thirty days of November. For although the movement got started in the San Francisco Bay area in 1999, with just twenty-one writers apparently plying themselves with caffeine and muffins (, twelve years on it has grown into a global literary phenomenon.

More than ninety novels have thus far been published which were born out of this annual event. This includes two #1 New York Times bestsellers — Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants and Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus.

The intention, however, is not to complete a finely polished manuscript. Rather, the idea — which goes perfectly with the way I teach my creative writing classes — is to break through non-writing inertia as well as the tendency many writers have to heavily edit and harshly critique themselves as they write. So the emphasis is on quantity, not to the exclusion of quality, but in recognition of the fact that to produce a quality work, one must first get down the story in a first draft, what American writing teacher Julia Cameron ( calls laying track.

Now, Dear Reader, there's a good chance that you, interested as you are in reading about the writing of a novel in a month, are harboring thoughts of one day writing your own novel. Why wait for that ever-elusive “one day” when an ideal opportunity is at hand throughout this month? Don’t worry about the event having already started. Even the NaNoWriMo program director is late out of the gates with her own writing (

And, at the end of the month, wouldn’t it be infinitely better to perhaps fall a few thousand words shy of the 50,000-word goal rather than not to have written anything at all?

You can learn more about National Novel Writing Month by visiting the NaNoWriMo website ( And you can follow the latest goings-on via Twitter, either by following @NaNoWriMo ( or by searching on the #NaNoWriMo hashtag.

If you'd like to keep an eye on this writer’s daily NaNoWriMo and other goings-on, you're cordially invited to follow me on Twitter as well: @SeanMMadden (

Finally, as if writing a novel in a month isn't enough on top of everything else I do — and this is where it really gets crazy — I also intend to write regular blog posts on my website, (, about the mad-dash process of penning a 50,000-word novel in a month. Those blog posts, though, will have to take a backseat to the primary task at hand.

As a Creative Writing and Mindful Living Guide, Sean M. Madden teaches writing, literature and mindful living classes in the UK, and provides one-to-one guidance and mentoring worldwide. He invites readers to follow or contact him on Twitter (@SeanMMadden).

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