Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor

What Draws People to NaNoWriMo

A survey of Forward Motion Members
2003, Forward Motion


The yearly bout with lunacy has come upon us.  November is only days away as I write this note... my last coherent statement to the world before I am drawn into the madness of NaNoWriMo. 

And why do I so willingly leap into this sea of insanity with thousands of other lemming writers?

Because it's fun.

NaNoWriMo is a once a year event that not only challenges first time novelists to attempt something they only dreamed of doing before this, but also allows long time writers to 'play' with writing and not take it as seriously as they may have the rest of the year.

There are challenges to writing 50,000 words in one month.  First is the work of sustaining a story, pretty much without pause, for that month.  Many of us go in with outlines in hand, ready for the war. Some face the daunting month with nothing more than a vague idea of a story.

Whatever it is you want out of NaNo, I hope that you find it and enjoy the rush.  There is no other time that you will know you are writing with thousands of others at the same time, all over the world.

So is everyone ready?  Let's leap!

What others at Forward Motion see in NaNoWriMo:

Posted by jschara

The challenge. The idea of finding a way to actually get 50k of words into the PC in some hopefully coherent form in less than a lifetime. I had already decided to participate before our Labor of Love challenge, but when all was said and done on the challenge, I felt quite confident that 50k in November just might almost be a walk in the park.

It probably won't be quite that easy, but if I can do 20k in three days, why should 50k in 30 be too hard?

Besides, I've had a silly idea rolling around in my head for awhile, and this will give it a chance to breathe.


Posted by mamarose1900

I want to see if I can do it. I also want to build a habit of writing 2K per day. This is a good way to challenge myself to do that, every day. And because it's fun. I don't really know why it's fun, but it is. 

Posted by yume

This is my second year doing NaNo. Last year, I thought it would be fun to try something new and challenging. This year, I like to use it as a way to give myself that extra push to get those words on the paper. It's nice to write with a sense of community, since writing can be so solitary and every writer has different goals. At least, with NaNoWriMo, you know there are people out there going through the exact same thing you are. It's bolstering somehow. 

Posted by anj

I'm a new writer, and I hope nano will be a way for me to jump write into writing my first novel.

I've been doing notes on research & ideas since August, so the timing seems good.

I don't expect to finish my novel, or even get to the 50K goal, but just hoping to get something done in November. Which is also my birth month, so all the astrological forces are in my favor for an auspicious start, I hope. :) 

Posted by Shadawyn

Hope I'm not too late!

Last year, I joined because I wanted to see if I could do it.

This year, I'm coming back because I loved the energy of the community in November. Last year it helped me keep writing, and it brought me to two valuable writing groups that I still work with (Forward Motion and the University of Washington's Dragon's Pen). 

Posted by alienarose

I think what attracted me to it last year was the chance to take the little story that had been playing in my head and actually do something with it! So many times, I sit back and think, "What if I did this..." and then never do. Nanowrimo made my dream of writing a reality. Granted, I met the goal, but the story was only half-told and I have been working on it ever since. But I'd never be this far without Nanowrimo. 

Posted by chaimann

I'll admit it: I joined last year because the forums were so entertaining. I figured any writing I could get done would be a bonus.

And I'll also admit: A lot of my writing was driven by the little word count bar by my name in the forum posts. I couldn't have the others thinking I was a slacker or a quitter, could I?

My writing was exactly as Chris Baty says it will be - messy and disjointed. Unsalvageable, really, and I did try to salvage it. But I realized just this week that some of the characters and situations are still with me, strongly. Bits of it may have - dare I say it? - promise.

This year, I am back because I made some good friends there last year who like my style and encourage me to keep writing, not at such a crazy pace but at least steadily throughout the year.

And, of course, the forums. 

Posted by pkurilla

I'm an unofficial participant, both this year and last year.

Last year, I chose to participate because I thought it would be one way to force myself to finish a (short) novel. And I did. And the draft...needs improvement. A lot of improvement. But I got the bones of the story down, and that's what matters.

This year, I'm using NaNo to jump into a new genre. I fully expect this year's novel to need improvement, too. But it'll be there to work on. 

Posted by Dae

This is my fourth year participating in NaNoWriMo. I was originally drawn to it because it was such a great challenge. I liked the idea of other frustrated authors pulling out all the stops and slamming through 50K words together. The emphasis on quantity rather than quality took some of the pressure off but I still didn't really believe I could do it. The camaraderie and the positive attitudes of the other participants kept me going and I managed to complete the 50K. Winning that first year gave me the confidence to seriously pursue my writing. I now pursue quantity over quality but return each November to let the muse run wild.


Posted by Linda Jo Martin

I always wanted to write a novel, so when I found out about NaNoWriMo in 2001, I didn't hesitate to sign up. I was amazed to find I was able to write a 50,000-word novel in only seventeen days.

This will be my third NaNoWriMo and I no longer question my ability to put together the words. I look forward to this all year long because I love the excitement of being on the NaNoWriMo forums, working with other frantic novelists.

And again, Zette, thanks for showing up there last year and telling us all about Forward Motion. What you're doing here has helped keep me on track all year long.


Posted by CPol

I need a push, something to make me actually sit down and crank out the words. I did a Monthly Marathon(tm) and it worked (never written som much in my life) so now I'm going for the whole WriMo package! 50k here I come and God help the Infernal Editor that tries to stop me!

Posted by FreedomGuy

The challenge of writing is to "show up at the page." Sometimes that is not an easy task. We can find all sorts of excuses not to write. We can even convince ourselves that we have nothing to write.

The truth is that we have more to write about than we can handle. It is not a matter of asking "What can I write?" but of dealing with the question, "Of all of the ideas that rattle around in my head, which of them shall I choose?"

NaNoWriMo forces me to pick one of those ideas and work it through to some sort of conclusion, even if only so I can say, at the end of November, "I've made a start on something I want to finish."

To be a writer, what is required is that we write. Fifty thousand words is a pretty good start.

The planning and the waiting just add to the excitement. 

Posted by daphnejriordan

Last year, before Nano, I was feeling pretty down about my writing. I hadn't been writing much because I was blocked (maybe I should mention I already had 8 completed novels under my belt at that point), and was starting to question my abilities, my commitment, pretty much everything. I learned about Nano and was a little afraid to sign up, because I didn't want it to be one more failure. So when I did sign up, it was extremely important to me that I succeed. Which I did. :) Getting the 50,000 words done in 26 days (so I could relax over Thanksgiving) was *amazing*. It re-energized me. Which is why I'm going back for more.

Posted by worthywoman

I have been talking about the novel I was going to write since I was twelve. This seemed like a way to kick myself into doing what I've wanted to do for more than thirty years.

It's also a chance to write without judging myself. So what if I don't write the twenty first century's "Pride and Prejudice"? I have learned about characterization, plotting, and working until I've finished -- even if I don't make fifty thousand words, I have won!

Posted by henkion

The thrill of the deadline. 

Posted by mvg

I chose to sign up for the NaNo because I'm scared. I want to write a fictionalized autobiography but I've been afraid of everything associated with the idea. Afraid of looking at my life, afraid of what others will think, afraid of failing, afraid of succeeding.

NaNo suggests writing what you know. What could I know better than what I've lived? 

Posted by bregorzloth

It's down to my sheer stubbornness at wanting to have a go at something that will probably turn out to be impossible for me. I just can't seem to turn down any insane ideas.

Posted by Zeon

I watched NaNo from the sidelines last year, and wondered who would be brave/crazy enough to sign up for such a feat. However, I secretly admired all of the people who did it, even those who didn't finish.

Which leads me to this year, where I'm signed up, have an outlined novel that's raring to go, and a new appreciation of the people both here in FM and in NaNo for just being brave/crazy enough to inspire me enough to join them!

So, my reason is just that I want to see if I can make it, really finish something for once, and be able to say that "Hey, I wrote a novel!"


Posted by stephjr

I figured I needed something to motivate me to write my next novel ASAP (and get it out of my brain - I can't sleep!). The first cohesive draft of my first novel took me 12 years to complete. I don't want to go through that again. Plus, I wanted to learn how to ignore my internal editor during the initial creation process. I seem to write faster, and in many cases *better* when she's not involved with my first drafts. NaNo seemed perfect for both.