Thursday, November 3, 2011

Using NaNoWriMo to Experiment

Hey everyone! As I'm sure you probably all know, the month of November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for short, or NaNo for shorter) where you write 50,000 words in 30 days. That's about 1,667 words each day. There's still time to hop in on the action if you haven't already. The website for it is

I've been a participant (and winner) since 2005. I've really learned so much through it. One of those being how to actually complete a novel, another thing has been writing every day, even when the muse isn't singing in your ear. Words need to get on the page. I really recommend writers to do it at least once. There's such an energy and excitement when November comes around.

Each year, I tend to do something different or use NaNo as a way to experiment.
  • 2005: I wrote a sweet contemporary romance, which I hadn't done before, and may not again... lol. I kept thinking about ways I could put zombies or werewolves in to make it more exciting. 
  • 2006: I worked on my first urban fantasy and tried out first person point of view. That one didn't get completed until a year ago since I'd messed myself up with plotting. Yeesh! Lesson learned there. 
  • 2007: I wrote an 80,000-word paranormal romance that I completed before 2008's NaNo came around. Super exciting moment for me. 
  • 2008: I worked on my second urban fantasy, which ended up being the first in the series, the other was still a train wreck, but this one I actually completed the 80,000-word novel in December right before the ball dropped to signal the New Year. 
  • 2009: I switched back again to paranormal romance (yes, you are noticing a trend, right? I did it on purpose. ;-) ) That year, I took an urban fantasy/horror-ish short story I'd written but couldn't find a home for with magazines and other small presses and decided to turn it into a novel. 
  • 2010: It was another paranormal romance, but with some experimentation! I worked on a post-apocalyptic paranormal romance, and it was derived from a short story that I couldn't find a home for with digital publishers. The incentive for this becoming a NaNo project was an acquisitions editor talking to me about it and telling me that since the world was rich and intriguing, it'd be better as a novel to give the world building, plot, and relationship the space they needed. I agree since it gave me time to play in the world and meet some awesome characters I wouldn't have met otherwise. 

(Side note: That list doesn't begin to cover the process experiments. Writing an outline, not writing an outline, writing an outline for the first half of the book and not finishing it then having the book go off the deep end into total insanity... *ahem* See year 2006 for that unpleasant trial. lol)

Okay, so now that I've gone through all of that... if you're still reading, you're wondering what I'm doing this year? What could I possibly do that I haven't done before? Well... Before, I'd been unpublished or struggling to get published again. Now, I'm published and putting out novellas regularly. So this year, I'm doing NaNo for a different reason... I'm doing it to have fun writing. I'm doing it for me (and of course, for all of you to read down the road! *grins*) I love writing novels, and I love playing in a world so much you could easily get lost there.

Why are you doing NaNo? If you're not participating, how come?

~ Sarah Mäkelä


  1. Wow Sarah!!! You're a NaNo warrior!!! LOL

    I've never tried Nano because November is one of the craziest months ever for me! :)

    but I'm cheering on lots of my friends while I finish up Night Demon edits...

    Good luck!!!

    Lisa :)

  2. Stand proud, Sarah! I am not participating in NaNo becuase I don't like deadlines. I know, I know . . . how can I be a writer?

  3. Thanks for the comment, Lisa! :-D Yeah, I've weathered the NaNo storm through college finals, Thanksgiving, and everything else November throws at me. Thank goodness there are no more college finals though. LOL

  4. Darcy, thank you! :-D I'm the opposite. I enjoy deadlines. They help me get things done since I can be a bit of a procrastinator sometimes.