There are three tacks I can take for today’s post. I could look at yesterday, and the announcement that Disney acquired Lucas Films and will make new Star Wars movies. That doesn’t feel quite right. I could look at today and do a big post about the nature of horror, but I’ve done that in the blog already (Links to those past posts: 1, 2, 3, and 4). Instead, as the title of this post implies, I’m going to look at tomorrow. November 1. Ladies and gentlemen, we’re on the eve of Nanowrimo, so it’s time for me to once again talk about the event.

Anyone who has followed me either here or on my blog has seen me discuss my love/hate relationship with Nanowrimo in the past. I have a history with the event, and I contend that I wouldn’t be the writer I am today without it. Nanowrimo proved that I could write a book from start to finish. It also introduced me to both the Cat Vacuuming Society of Northern Virginia, a writers’ group that has been instrumental to my growth as a writer, and to my wife and now co-author, who I first met at a Nanowrimo write-in.

Yeah, I know. Awwww.

When I say I am the writer I am today because I participated in Nanowrimo, I’m not mincing words, I’m not trying to be nice to the event. Those are some rather major steps along my arc as a writer, none of which would have happened without the event.

However, I don’t do Nanowrimo anymore.  The event just didn’t serve my needs anymore. I needed to become more deliberate in my writing, something that Nanowrimo made difficult. The event also left me drained and caused the novels written to languish, untouched. Then, next year, I’d write another that would again just go into a drawer. My decision to walk away from the event was a decision that I needed to write 12 months of the year, not just have one crazy dash and then look ahead to the next year.

This was a personal decision. Many people get a lot of use out of the event, and it is a massively useful event. For people who can outline more thoroughly than I tend to, the event is about finding time to just turn the outline into words. For people who can write novel-length stories by the seats of their pants, this even is about sitting down and just doing it. For people who just enjoy the company of people doing this fantastically insane things, the event is about community and fun. For all of these people, Nanowrimo is an awesome event, and I think they’re really doing it right.

Do people do it wrong? Certainly. People will send query letters on December 1st. Smashwords is again offering participants the ability to sell their novels-in-progress through the website, which I fear perpetuates the notion that these are completed works. I’m sure Kindle self publishing will see a jump on December 1st. Being proud of your work is a magnificent thing, but unedited Nanowrimo manuscripts are not ready for prime time. So, as I typically do this time of year, I urge you not to be one of those people.

If you’re not, if you promise that the novel will be edited and rewritten before foisting it on anyone other than friends and family…have a hell of a lot of fun. Write with my absolute best wishes. Writing 50,000 words in a month is not easy, Nanowrimo isn’t supposed to be. Then again, writing 50,000 words in two months, or three, or twelve also isn’t easy. That’s writing.


Speaking of crazed writing sprints, this past Saturday was Flashathon. If you participated, or if you thought about it, or even if you didn’t, I’d like to get some feedback on how to improve the event next year. Including whether folks would enjoy a dual-tracked event. Check out this post on my blog, see what ideas and concerns I have, and please speak up.

About the author

DLThurston DL Thurston is a writer of novels, screenplays, and the occasional short story. He has short stories due out soon in the Steam Works anthology from Hydra Publications and in The Memory Eater. When he's not writing, he also brews beer and even drinks it sometimes. Check out his exploits either on his blog or on Twitter.