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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Indie Life: Ten things I learned from National Novel Writing Month

Like many fellow indie writers, I participated in National Novel Writing Month. I managed to finish an entire post-apocalyptic novel of 71,000 words in the month of November.

It's called Radio Hope and you can download the first 51,000 words for free from Smashwords. I'd love to get some feedback and as a thank you I'll send a free electronic copy of the final book to you once it's released in February.

OK, enough self-promotion. What did writing a novel in a single month teach me? Here are ten things I learned.

1. If you are mostly unemployed (I recently lost my travel blogging job when Gadling laid off all their regulars) your word count goes way up.

2. Keeping your word count up helps with your self-esteem when you're mostly unemployed.

3. Keeping your word count up after the challenge is over maintains your self-esteem. I'm working on the sequel right now.

4. You'll help your confidence if you get a jump on the game by writing a lot on the first day. November 1 was my most productive day, with 5,300 words.

5. Write every day, even if it's just 500 words (my worst day) because that forward momentum keeps you from getting stuck.

6. It's good to find a group to help you. I was down in Madrid on November 1 and got to hang out with other members of my old writers group. We took over the back room of a cafe and wrote like mad!

7. If you give the project sufficient focus, you will not have a drop in quality as you increase quantity.

8. You will, however, make more typos. A lot more. Really embarrassing ones.

9. The online community at the NaNo website is super supportive, helpful, and friendly, and disappears after November 30.

10. It's really, really fun!


  1. Congratz on winning nano! Awesome word count. I just downloaded your story, so I'll definitely check that out. (Wait, it doesn't end on a cliffhanger does it? *eyes suspiciously*)

    I have also found that writing at least something everyday helps keep the momentum going. Stoping completely and then trying to start again is always an awkward business. I hadn't thought of it as a self-esteem boosting method before, though. Thanks for the tips!

  2. Great thoughts. I am always amazed at the psychological shift NaNoWriMo creates.

  3. Sorry about Gadling. I've continually found that forcing myself to write can sometimes be good, but I'm equally happy when I don't and find the next session to be that much better for it. So I don't personally subscribe to the write-every-day edict. But I know what writing-while-being-underemployed does for the ego. It's always a boost!

  4. Keeping your self-confidence up is a really good reason to write.
    My last two books were written during NaNo and BuNo, and they were of better quality than the one I took a year to write.

  5. Good advice there, Sean. I won't be working on a novel (and I've NEVER managed to make NaNoWriMo work for me) but I will be targeting 50k wordage. See you in the cafe's back room again!


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