The Pros and Cons of NaNoWriMo by Lisa Casian

From the SavvyAuthors Archives

In preparation for NaNovember we are pulling a few articles out of the SavvyAuthors Archives.  We’re getting pretty excited about November and hope you are, too!  This article is from 2014, when Lisa Casian shared a few Pros and Cons about why you might or might not want to partake of NaNoFrenzy!


“In quickness is truth. The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought.” Ray Bradbury-Zen in the Art of Writing

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It’s where a bunch of writers get hyped on coffee, tea, or whatever keeps them up and insane and write a 50,000-word novel in one month.  I heard about this insane, brilliant idea back in 2009 when I started writing. Fear of failure kept me from jumping in. I mean, really. There’s a website and writer boards, and even live writing events in your region. You can’t get any more serious than that, right?

So I bumped out the first four years until I decided to give it a try. You see, I’m not particularly good under pressure. I’m of the kind that when asked a question, like, let’s say…what’s your book about? My mind draws a complete blank, my eyes widen and feel as if they really are going to fall out of their sockets, and my heart does this jig number in my chest. And I can’t think of a damn thing to say. I also have been known to lose those bets you make with family members every year. You know, the ones that you use to lose weight. Well, needless to say, my brother won that one and he lost only two pounds! Yeah, pressure sucks, in a big way. So I avoid it like a room filled with suits, sucking on cancer pipes.

In the writing world, you have deadlines, you have ideas that spring out of bad dreams, you have this ticking clock always in the background saying time is almost up. What do you have to show for it? I say kill the clock.

So NaNoWriMo allows you to write fast, write sucky, but as Ray Bradbury eloquently put it, write truthfully. Plotters are probably going nuts. But this includes you too. Eventually you plotters are going to have to put that outline down, stick those notecards on a board, shuffle to your seat, pick up your writing instrument and write. And whether you’re a pantser, like me, and write with no clue of the journey you’re about to take, or know every conflict, every nuance you are going to put your character through, when you write that quickly, you draw upon a certain raw truth. And things magically unfold. Trust me. It’s happened to me. Characters connect, sub-plots meld, and there’s this awesome subconscious truth that takes light. The aha moment. And then you get a glimpse of what your story is truly about and keep going. I love this part. First drafts are awesome! I allow myself to believe that it is going to be sucky. First draft is raw art. Subsequent drafts are digging into that piece of art work to find the nuggets of awesomeness to pluck.

NaNo Pros and Cons

If you aren’t convinced of the brilliance of NaNoWriMo, here are some pros and cons.

Pro: You get to write “the end” before you realize what you’ve written is crap. Yay!

Con: You may have more work to do on the back end because your work is…brilliant crap.

shield-nano-blue-brown-rgb-hiresPro: You get to work against a deadline. How is that a pro? It teaches you to focus, to organize yourself (plotter or pantser), it lets you know there is an end to all this madness…eventually. And if you’re going to publish, this is a skill you need. I love deadlines. Whoa…but I don’t do well under pressure. And here’s the con.

Con: pressure—pressure is stressful. It is also something we place on ourselves. If you decide to go public with your intent and join (which I recommend) then you are being held accountable. Of course the word police isn’t going to break into your home and arrest you if you manage to complete only 49,999 words. The writing world isn’t going to ridicule you for coming up short (the writing community is so awesome!) You get my drift. This pressure is your perception. And only yours. Again, if you decide to publish, this exercise may be good for you.

Pro: It allows you to lower all your inhibitions, all your need for perfection, all the background noise and write. Whenever I feel sad, or I get rejections, or things seem to be going to the darkside of crazy in my life, I allow myself time to grieve. I allow myself to cry for ten minutes in the morning and that’s it. Once those ten minutes are done I wipe away the tears, stand straight, and face whatever challenge lies ahead. Those ten minutes allow me to lower my inhibitions, remind myself that I am human, and remove all the dark inside me.  NaNoWriMo allows me to do the same. Because come November 30, I wipe those tears, stand straight, and know that I am done. I wrote something.

Con: Be prepared to lose some hair, or at least get grays. Or maybe cry. Ahem, yeah…

Pro: You have a completed manuscript under your belt. Whether you decide to mold it into submission for publication or leave it in a drawer until you’re ready to beat it into submission, you have started a backlist. And one day you may find yourself dusting it off and doing amazing things with it.

Con: Or not.

Pro: Writing something new. Though I heard the rules for NaNo changed and you could use an unfinished manuscript, I use it to write something new. After working on edits, and revisions, and rewrites, it’s really nice to write something fresh. I’m looking forward to writing something new this year.

Con: Can’t find a con for that one.

Pro: I gave NaNo a try last year for the first time. I completed my 50,000-word manuscript and beat it into submission. It became Blood Bond and published by Breathless Press a year later.

Con: Can’t find a con for that one.

So here’s to crappy first drafts, coffee, and brilliance.

Happy writing!

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Lisa Casian is the author of BLOODROSE and the sequel BLOOD BOND published by Breathless Press.

Lisa completed a Bachelors degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice at Northeastern Illinois University and works in the community strengthening families. She spends her spare time reading and writing great romance with tough heroines and bad-boy heroes.

Lisa resides in Chicago with her family, a household of kids, and the bliss of chaos. You can follow her on her blog; on Twitter ; and Facebook Facebook.




When Bowen pleads for Cassian’s help in saving his beloved from Eris, Cassian must fulfill his duty as Shade and lead the shadow army, risking more than just his soul.

Centuries ago, Cassian formed a bond with the goddess of chaos and stripped all that made him human, releasing the evil inside him. He became a Shade, leader of the shadow army. But Cassian could never allow the evil to fully entrench his heart.

Anna is running away from her life and her father. Switching places with her maid, she accepts a job as a healer, unaware that the job would require much more—her body and her heart. She gives both willingly to Cassian.

When Bowen pleads for Cassian’s help in saving his own beloved from Eris, Cassian must fulfill his duty as a Shade and submit to Eris in order to save her. But it requires releasing Nyx out of Hades, along with a shadow army to rule over the humans. And with Anna’s life at stake, Cassian has much more to lose than just his soul.

Only working together with his brother will allow them to save those they love and, hopefully, the world. If they don’t kill each other first.

Buy a copy of ‘Blood Bond’ at Breathless Press.