To Nano or Not to Nano: That is the Question

National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo for every poor soul who’s crazy enough to write a book) is coming up. To celebrate thousands of our fellow scribes pledging to write 50,000 words in one month, the Chicks are sharing our own NaNoWriMo experiences. 

  Marla Cooper

CotC Marla Cooper

I love NaNoWriMo. Okay, let me rephrase that: I love the idea of NaNoWriMo. The camaraderie is amazing, and it really helps motivate me knowing I’m not the only one who’s hard at work. Plus, I do well with rules, so having a daily word count is a great way to get me writing. But I have yet to “win” a NaNoWriMo, and here’s why: I love writing, but I hate rewriting. So whenever I find myself going down some path that I know isn’t leading anywhere, it’s almost impossible for me to keep going, because it feels like I’m digging myself deeper and deeper into a hole, and I’m acutely aware that I’ll have to fix it. The only way I could make it work? Going into November with an airtight plot. Preparing ahead never occurs to me until late October. So maybe I should go put it on my calendar right now for October, 2017: “NaNoPlotMo.”

Lisa Q. Mathews

CotC Word balloons

My first NaNo was a Camp NaNo, one hot July  a few years back. I “won”  and met some cool fellow writers (the camp version has “cabins,” which is a fun mini support system). Sadly, my follow up NaNo experiences have netted me words–but not enough of them. At the moment I’m finishing up a ms. draft and wondering whether I have enough gas in the tank to do it. But hey, if Kellye is…

Kellye Garrett


Technically, I am a NaNoWriMo vet. I say technically because although I have started NaNo for the past five years or so beginning with an early incarnation of Hollywood Homicide, I never actually “won” Nano. Meaning that I never actually wrote 50,000 words. But my thoughts were pure and it’s the thought that counts, right? Right? I’m doing it again this year. And this year, I’m getting my 50,000 words. Dangit. I have to finish a draft of Book 2 of the Detective by Day Series and I’m hoping Nano will be the kick in the butt I need to get it done. Wish me luck. I will need it.

Ellen Byron


I’ve never done NaNoWriMo and don’t know if I ever will. I’m hard enough on myself regarding output and meeting deadlines. Having another voice in my head screaming, “You’re behind, you’re behind!” feels like it would only exacerbate my already intense state of guilt. Truthfully, between having a full-time job, parenting a teen, meeting my book deal deadlines, and now monitoring the health of an elderly parent 3000 miles away, my hands are full, personally and professionally. But I do get to run alongside of NaNoWriMo, and tap into that extra motivation in November to produce more words.

Readers, drop us a note in the comments below! Will you be doing NaNoWriMo this year?

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5 thoughts on “To Nano or Not to Nano: That is the Question

  1. I’ve tried NaNo twice and both times wrote fewer words than usual. I left 9-5 years ago and to me NaNo is like going back to 9-5. No thanks. That said, I have made a pledge to myself that in November I will be a “mean, lean, writing machine.” I just won’t have to report to anyone but me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm. Are you on Twitter? You might be able to find fellow children’s writers doing nano on there by searching the #nanowrimo hashtag. In terms of outlining, I like to work in a three-act structure. Have you heard of Save the Cat?


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