National Novel Writing Month Comes To A Close, National Making Sense of That Thing You Just Wrote Month Begins


National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWriMo as it’s known to writers and abbreviators alike came to a close last week and with it dreams of completed manuscripts were finally realized or dashed in one fell December day. Truthfully though, there can be no failures in National Novel Writing Month if you signed up and participated in any manner. Any attempt, however brief, demonstrates a will to put something on paper, and that in itself is an important victory in the writing process. I hope to see many debuts in 2016 that were written or at least cultivated during the month. I worked on a few things during this NaNoWriMo and it was productive, but November is always a little scattershot for me. I will probably never finish a whole book in the month’s span, at least not one that makes any sense or isn’t just a brief unintentional novelization of The Empire Strikes Back, but I still like using the window as a springboard to get a chunk of work done on some end of the year projects.

With NaNoWriMo officially at a close though, a new important and terrifying month falls upon writers. December. December is not only the magical month where you relearn that your eyelashes can freeze together if you fall asleep at a bus stop, but it’s also the month when the permafrost forces you back inside to sift through the 90,000 word fever dream you scribbled out in November. This is the month that will find you swaddled in blankets at your desk, sarcastically muttering, “Winter is coming” to your dog, like it’s his fault that you’re doing revisions with mittens on and nothing in your story makes sense. But even before you enter into the frigid muttering at your dog stage of the month, you should really throw the manuscript in a drawer for a week or so before attempting any revisions. Maybe spend a few days reading some other books and that time and distance away from your work will be invaluable when you choose to return to it, armed with a more objective eye and less muttering. And if you find yourself incapable of shutting your mind off from the story during that week, that’s still a positive sign, but maybe just confine your output to writing down some thoughts in a notebook and keep your manuscript locked away like it’s that creepy kid’s book from the Babadook.

Also, for those who did participate in NaNoWriMo and are in the midst of revisions, especially in regards to tinkering with their characters and their motivations, this Hayao Miyazaki video essay is quite a good watch. It does an excellent job touching on why Miyazaki’s films and characters are compelling beyond the gorgeous hand drawn visuals.

This Week’s Writing Links

This week’s writing links include the looming start date of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and some reminders on how to prepare for it. Also, we have a list of long awaited sci-fi sequels and prequels, Harper Lee’s letter to Oprah about books, the five unusual habits of Ernest Hemingway (one of them is that he machine gunned sharks trying to poach his catches while fishing) and the conclusion to Lois Lowry’s Giver quartet.

So, yes, November is around the corner and with it will come turkey, the Lions losing on Thanksgiving, some dreary weather and NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month for those unfamiliar is the program that challenges writers to try to start and complete a novel in the month of November.

The effectiveness of NaNoWriMo is often questioned, some dismissing it as gimmicky, but I don’t think it deserves criticism. Yes, it’s difficult to write an effective and coherent book in a month, but if the program gets people writing, then I can’t really foresee any sort of negative effect to it.

Either way, I’m just going to use the month as an excuse to finish projects I’ve been working on (I know this is considered cheating for NaNoWriMo, but oh well). And if you haven’t participated in the program before, why not give it a shot this year? Here are some links to get you started.



– How To Prepare For NaNoWriMo (writersdigest)

– NaNoWriMo Headquarters (nanowri)

– Sci-fi Sequels And Prequels That We’ve Waited Decades For (io9)

– Harper Lee’s Letter To Oprah About Love of Books (flavorwire)

– The 5 Unusual Habits of Ernest Hemingway (inktank)

– Lois Lowry’s ‘Son’ Finally Concludes ‘The Giver’ (avclub)

– SF Signal Reviews ‘When The Villain Comes Home’ (sfsignal)

– Alan Rickman Knew Harry Potter’s End Years Before Anyone Else (huffington)

– Carolyn Marsden: 7 Things I’ve Learned So Far (guidetoliteraryagents)

– How Not To Use Twitter For Writers (kseniaanske)

Monday's Writing Links

Today’s highlighted link is the official website for National Novel Writing Month, otherwise known as NaNoWriMo to those who speak in internet shorthand and are hated by anyone over the age of 65 for doing it. National Novel Writing Month, which will start November 1, tasks writers with finishing a 50,000 word book by the end of the month. That is a pretty formal guideline though, as finishing an existing project or carving out a chunk of a manuscript collecting dust counts too. Really, it just encourages you to write for the month of November.

Stop by the NaNo website to join groups in your region, meet new writers in your area and participate in write-ins to keep up with your goals. Write-ins have to be at least six times safer than meeting writers on craigslist (don’t hold me to that. I cannot be held accountable for write-ins held in abandon warehouses, vacant lots, haunted bayou mansions or Native American burial grounds). Write-ins sound like a lot of fun though, and I plan on participating in one this year.


– Website For National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo)

– Prepping For NaNoWriMo (persephone)

– Can Too Much Editing Be Harmful To Your Manuscript? (wordplay)

– Thomas Young: The Advice I Needed Most As A Writer But Never Got (writersdigest)

– Finalists Named For National Books Awards (nytimes)

– Taylor Swift Donates 6,000 Books To Save Library (seattlepi)

– The Chicago Tribune Reviews Roger Ebert’s New Memoir (chicagotribune)

– Av Club Reviews Neal Stephenson’s ‘Reamde’ (avclub)

– SF Signal’s Podcast Interviews Jennifer Brozek (sfsignal)

– JA Konrath On Ebooks A La Carte (jakonrath)

– Vylar Kaftan On Submission Statistics And Revision Habits (sfwa)

– Kickstarter Projects That Need Help: Simon Vector (kickstarter)

– Underwhelming Reviews For The Underwhelming ‘The Thing’ Prequel (rottentomatoes)

– ‘The Thing’ — The Musical (sfsignal)

– IGN Reviews The Season 2 ‘Walking Dead’ Premiere (ign)

– Av Club’s Favorite Unhappy Endings (avclub)