for writers and readers….

NANOWRIMO – an insight for first timers


I am very grateful that Vikki has come across from her own blog at The View Outside to give newcomers like me a taste of what Nanowrimo – the international writing event – means. It’s clear she was made for this kind of challenge. By my calculations she was writing over 4,500 words a day (yes, A DAY) when she began, but slowed down for the second year because she was worried about the quality/quantity issue.

I’m open mouthed at her work rate, her ability to just get down and do it and her generosity in sharing….Over to Vikki…

What I Learned From My First (and second) Nanowrimo

The last few days of October 2010 had me scrabbling around like a woman possessed, trying to decide what story to do for my first ever Nanowrimo.

I can be determined when I want to be (how comes that never works when I start a diet?) and as the requirement to win is 50,000 words, then 50,000 words was exactly what I intended to do!

I had a rough idea in my head, a love triangle inspired by a Jeremy Kyle show (don’t ask!). So I had a heroine and 2 villains and an idea of the general theme with enough emotional trauma to make Eastenders look like a kids show. But as November the 1st came and went,  the story took on a life of its own and went in directions I never for a moment envisaged. Where did that suicide come from?

I soon discovered that I was, in fact, a “pantster”. A term I’d never heard of before, but discovered via the Nanowrimo Forums. It apparently meant someone who flies by the seat of their pants when it comes to writing a novel, and boy, was I flying!

By the 8th of November I’d written 32,342 words, and by the 11th I’d hit the magic 50,000. The manuscript topped up to be 65,000 words at the end of November, but had no ending. I was shocked and absolutely exhausted. So I spent most of December in a daze, promising myself that come January 1st, i would continue with it.

Fast forward to October 2011…..where had all those months gone? I was still writing, but hadn’t even opened the file containing my novel. Why? I’m not entirely sure to be honest. It was probably the prospect of having to sort out the enormous plot holes, coupled with not having one idea on how it was all supposed to end. I think I actually became sick of it!

Embarking on Nanowrimo 2011, I used the lessons I’d learned from the previous year and finished on the last day of November with 52,000 words. I’d taken my time a bit more, I’d had an ending in my head, and the novel was complete. Admittedly, the writing didn’t seem to flow as well, but I was comforted by the idea that at least I knew where this one was going. On the whole, it was a good experience, but I found that I did struggle a bit more. In my own opinion, the novel itself wasn’t as good as that first one.

So as I sit here, contemplating my 3rd Nanowrimo, what have I learned from the previous 2 years that will help me win again?

1. Have an ending. A clear vision of where I want this story to go.

2. Turn myself from a “pantster” into a “planner” (only time will tell whether this is a good idea or not).

But, most importantly….

3. Write a story that I’m in love with, that I feel passionately about.

Because when you write and you truly love your story, regardless of whether you’re doing it for Nanowrimo, that love will come over in your words, and you won’t be able to leave it languishing on your hard drive for 2 years 😉

Nanowrimo truly is a wonderful experience, and if you don’t believe me, just see what Natalie Goldberg has to say about it.

Related Articles:

Will You Be Nanoing?

My 10 Not So Secret Secrets To Winning Nanowrimo…ning-nanowrimo/

A bit about Vikki

She lives in Kent with her husband, 3 adult children (who refuse to leave home) and 2 cats. She blogs, (or should that be rambles?) daily at The View Outside ( and spends her time fantasising about being the next EL James, but isn’t too keen on having to write Erotica to achieve that (unless Robert Downey Jnr is available for research). 2012 see’s her first year at being a Co-ML (Municipal Liaison) for Nanowrimo Kent.



9 comments on “NANOWRIMO – an insight for first timers

  1. ann perrin
    October 19, 2012

    Well done Vikki thought the bit about know your ending really useful and love your writing.. Not that I am doing it this time round but love people who inspire, did not know Natalie Goldberg; was on youtube..EVERY writer/artist should know about her. Good luck Ann

  2. Vikki (The View Outside)
    October 19, 2012

    Thank you so much Bridget for letting me take over your blog today 🙂

    Awwww, thank you Ann 🙂

    I didn’t know she was on there either! I just did a search on Nanowrimo and she popped up 😉


    • bridget whelan
      October 20, 2012

      Great Post Vikki.
      Ann & Vikki — Have you read Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Goldberg? I was given it ages ago and thought I’d hate it…but it’s gentle, inspirational and treats writing as one of the creative arts… I see she has a new one coming out soon.

      • Vikki (The View Outside)
        October 20, 2012

        I’m actually reading that one at the moment Bridget, and loving it! 🙂


  3. Pingback: What I Learnt From My First (and Second) Nanowrimo | The View Outside

  4. creativityorcrazy
    October 20, 2012

    Enjoyed the post and the video of Natalie Goldberg. I’ve read two of her books and really love her ideas.

  5. Pingback: My Weekly Update – The Secret to Winning NaNoWriMo | Sydney Aaliyah

  6. Pingback: 5a.m. Flash 241012 – Are you doing NaNoWriMo? « Morgen Bailey's Writing Blog

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This entry was posted on October 19, 2012 by in Muse and tagged , .


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