Time for NaNoWriMo

I have never in fact participated in NaNoWriMo because I’m not motivated by prizes, competing with others, joining groups, or by someone cheering me on. My motivation is simply to get shit done. (Which is why I have 105 perfect tournament crowns from Microsoft Solitaire tournaments so far this year. Someone send help. I need an intervention.)

This year, though, I’ll be doing what NaNo requires and in the month of November, which is writing the first draft of a short novel in the space of a month.

BTW, for a good general post on Nano and writing check out Chuck Wendig’s NaNo post for 2019.

In preparation for starting this next novel (otherwise known as the procrastination stage), I’ve been doing some thinking.

This will be my 12th novel. And the fifth in this particular series. And I gotta tell ya, I think I’m just now reaching the “you know that you don’t know it” level of writing. After eleven completed novels.

Stop and think about that for a second. How many hours of doing this thing have I put in so far and I’m just now starting to see glimmers of what all is required to make it work well.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I think my earlier novels are good and enjoyable reads and, for the most part, the reviews back me up on that. People don’t always like what I choose to write about but they generally read to the end before telling the world about it.

But the issue I’m finally becoming concerned with is this: the consistency of the reader experience. Not just writing one good novel or one good series, but writing novels and series that consistently meet the needs of a particular group of readers.

To be really good at this you have to hit enough of the right buttons each and every time so that your particular group of readers walks away satisfied and comes back for more the next time you publish. That is not easy.

It is in fact exponentially harder than writing a single novel. And if you don’t do it well, you end up building on a shaky foundation. A reader thinks, “Well, that book was alright, I guess, so maybe I’ll read another one by them.” That is not the type of readership you want.

Because that kind of reader is the type of reader you will eventually lose if you continue on the way you are. In a hot genre with readers desperate for new material this could take some time. You could probably have a successful series or even two, but it will eventually catch up to you.

So it isn’t about writing a good novel. At least not long-term. It’s about creating a good reader experience across all of your books. And that is much, much harder to do.

And with that cheerful thought, I guess I’m off to “win” my own little NaNo.

Author: M.L. Humphrey

M.L. Humphrey is a former securities regulator, registered stockbroker (although only briefly), and consultant on regulatory and risk-related matters for large financial institutions with expertise in the areas of anti-money laundering regulation, mutual funds, and credit rating agencies. Since 2013 M.L. has also been a published author under a variety of pen names and across a variety of subjects and genres. You can contact M.L. at mlhumphreywriter [at] gmail.com.

4 thoughts on “Time for NaNoWriMo”

  1. For me, NaNo was never about prizes, competition, or slaps on the back. It was about “getting shit done,” which I’d never been able to do until I joined up. It’s a light-handed structure that helped me get to the point where I knew I could get the writing done, even during the rest of the year. I stopped doing it for several years, partly because I felt I didn’t really need it anymore, but was also trying to cope with various traumatic life experiences that were keeping me from writing. This year, I’m back, surprising myself, since I hadn’t planned on it. But I have seven years worth of notes for a novel and felt that I was finally ready to write it, if more slowly than NaNo requires. I gave myself a goal of 500 words a day and 15,000 words for the month. Another surprise. I wrote 2,400 words today (November 1). No guarantee I’ll keep that up, and knowing me, I won’t. But the background hum of NaNo is there to help me along.
    Good luck to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is my first time participating in it as well, though it is by no means about prizes or anything like that. In a way, I don’t need NaNo because of the pace I CAN write at, but lately haven’t been. NaNo is my way of kicking myself back into gear and, unlike what NaNo says I should do, I’m finishing a novel, not starting a brand new one. Plus by participating, I can be supportive of my wife, who’s only ever finished a novel in the past while participating, and is trying to have a 2nd round of that success.

    I think I’m only just becoming aware of in my writing what you definitely have become aware of in yours, and I feel like I have a long, long way to go yet. But they say ‘knowing is half the battle,’ right? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

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