Wednesday, July 30, 2014

#NaNoWriMo - Why It's Not For Everyone

This month I achieved something that's a landmark for me. I won Camp NaNoWriMo! This is a first. I've attempted both the November NaNoWriMo and the Camp version five times since 2011, and flunked the previous four. I also have to confess that my win this time is probably down to aiming for a much more modest word count of just 15K rather than the full 50K. But I'm still chuffed.

Now, I'm not going to slate or promote NaNoWriMo as the must-do thing for writers. This is a very individual thing. Just as you need to find your own way to write successfully, be it plotting or pantsing, story arcs or character driven, or series structure, or whatever. NaNoWriMo is NOT for everyone, and no one should ever feel a failure for not hitting that magical 50K. Because I can tell you for a fact that, even when I've come close (36K is about my highest), it leaves me so burned out afterward that it often takes me a couple of months to recover, and completely kills my creativity. I'm not the kind of person who can always consistently pump out 1.5K a day. On my best day I've done 30K (not recommended - I didn't stop the whole day, and felt ill for almost a week afterward). Obviously on a bad day it'll be zero. Usually I can trot along with a steady 500 words a day (and taking into account I can usually only write five days a week when my monsters are at school, that would still give me 97.5K in a year - a decent sized novel or couple of novellas), but it varies hugely.

So the commitment of NaNoWriMo is a tough one for me, even when I'm in the deepest throes of inspiration from the muse. The afterburn is bad. Last November's NaNoWriMo hit me hardest, because not only was it a story that was more of a 'had to get it out of my head' rather than a 'I so want to write this', but it then got a request for the completed work. So instead of taking a break to recover and let it sit for a while, I had to dive straight back in to revise and submit (FYI, that book is now releasing in less than a month!). It took me several weeks to really recover, and then I was hip deep in edits for other stuff. Exhausting doesn't quite cover it. Muse went completely silent. I started to seriously fret over her absence. (She's since returned full force - now I'm having trouble getting her to SHUT UP!).

So why do I keep putting myself through it? Well, although I know I'll need to take time out to recover, two of those 'failed' NaNoWriMo novels will be published this year - Restless In Peaceville in August, and When Dark Falls in November. So even though technically they are failures for not making 50K, I've got two new books coming out that might not have been written if not for NaNoWriMo. Thanks to Camp this July, I finished the two short stories I needed to get done, one that has a submission deadline of the 31st. The other will be submitted probably around September to an in-house submission call. That could give me two more titles releasing this year (madness!).

So to me, NaNoWriMo has the potential to boost productivity for writers, but shouldn't be seen as the be-all-and-end-all. Not hitting 50K doesn't mean you've failed. It can show you your limits, or perhaps the limits of the story. It can give you a kickstart and/or impetus to get on with a project. It provides an instant support group if you want one, but you don't have to socialize as part of it. And while I shall take tremendous pride in showing off my winner's badge this year, it doesn't invalidate the other books I've done, inside and out of NaNoWriMo. It doesn't matter if I never 'win' it again. The important thing is I got the words down, and now some of them are going out to readers, and that makes me happy.

BTW, I *will* be doing NaNoWriMo again come November, with the sequel to Restless. See, I just can't leave it alone.

Pippa's Journal

Tethered is out! It's been nearly three years since I started this novella one Christmas Day, with no more than the odd idea of succubi in space. And now it's out there. Of course, the first thing I fret over after release is - will anyone buy it?! Then the anxious wait for the first review. As it happens, Tethered received its first review on Goodreads Monday, and it was...five stars! Phew! Not that I expect five stars all the way, but it's nice to get it for the first one. Now I have to wait and hear exactly what other readers think of the story in detail. >.<

Last week I received the sad news that my beloved editor at Breathless Press is leaving. *sob* We've only been working together since March, but I'd got attached. However, I've been assigned a new editor already (nice not to be left in editor-less limbo, which has happened to me before and is no fun at ALL) and we've said our hellos. And guess what? My angel story from Camp NaNoWriMo just got a contract offer, and we'll be working on that together. Excited! This means a total of seven releases for this year, leaving me with a grand total of eleven titles up at Goodreads! It has also added futuristic UF to the genres I've written so far.


Two things I learned this week. Now, you might think I'm some kind of expert at this whole publishing thing by now. I'm not. I'm still learning. So I'm going to share two new things I discovered, which maybe a lot of people might know but I didn't.

1. When your new book goes up on Amazon, IT DOESN'T AUTOMATICALLY GO ON YOUR AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE! Seriously, I didn't know this. I had wondered why Tales from the SFR Brigade never showed up, but put that down to it being a multi-author anthology. Then I noticed my last release, Reboot, also hadn't gone on but never investigated. When Tethered went live on Sunday, I didn't even think about it until a friend and fellow author questioned it and asked if I was able to fix that. After looking into it, I discovered I could. *facepalm* To add your books, you need to sign into Author Central (if you haven't already, sign up! You can use your Amazon account details, and this allows you to claim your books and edit your Amazon Author Page details, add your Twitter and blog accounts - all useful stuff). Then click Books, and Add Books (you'll need the ASIN number). Amazon does say it takes up to five days, but all three of mine were up in about an hour.

2. There's a thing on your Amazon Author Page (upper right hand corner) that says Subscribe to receive notifications about new releases by this author. I didn't know about it! And now I'm going to be adding that into my newsletter as another way readers can get an instant update about my new books without relying on me to keep mentioning it. :P


My tour for Tethered with Breathless Press finished yesterday. Go HERE to see the list of stops, find out some of the behind the scene stuff, inspirations, deleted scenes, and even a possible opening to a sequel, complete with a giveaway. The second stage tour begins on the 8th August with another giveaway.

My publisher - Breathless Press - is celebrating its fifth birthday with a month long sale on site HERE (so you can pick up Tethered half price!) and a Wonderland themed party. More details next week.

I turn 43 on Sunday! No time to celebrate as my next release - YA paranormal Restless In Peaceville - takes place on the 20th August, before my tour for Tethered finishes. Eeep!

Ping Pong

Laurie, my sympathy for not getting to RWA this year, and extreme envy for next year. There *are* disadvantages to being a UK author. Sigh. Love that a self pubbed title won a RITA though - I would say about time too!

Sharon, great post about your muse. I regard mine as an entity in its own right (and how I hate it sometimes), although I know there are authors who consider that ridiculous.

Donna, waiting on a full update for RWA!


  1. I've been doing NaNo since it started. Several of my published novels started as Nano or JulNo books.

    I don't always win, but I always get some words, which is more than I had.

    It doesn't suit everyone's style. I can grind along, doing my 1700-2000/day. I have friends who can only write in binges of 3000-5000 words and then nothing for a week.

  2. It *is* a very individual thing. I just don't think people should take it as a fail not to hit 50K. And I've found it rather addictive!


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