NaNoWriMo and Why You Shouldn’t ~ Outside the Margins with KJ Charles

Join Prism Book Alliance® as KJ Charles goes Outside the Margins today.


Ah, the cycle of life, the turn of the seasons. October goes out with Halloween, a night of masks and roaming spirits, sinister lanterns and playing with horrors to stave off the dark. November comes in with NaNoWriMoRow Day, in which people argue all over social media as to the merits of writing a book in a month. It’s a toss-up which is more likely to invoke hell.

In case you, like me, live under a rock, NaNoWriMo is a challenge to write a 50K book in November, and the conversations around it go like this:

Happy Person: Yay, I’m doing NaNoWriMo!

Grumpy Person: NaNoWriMo is total rubbish, why not put your efforts into writing Good Art rather than keeping to an artificial timetable to rush out  unpublishable crap?

Positive Author: Hey, my first published novel started life as a NaNoWriMo project!

Bragging Author: Write-a-novel Month? That’s EVERY month for ME!

Enthusiastic Person: [posts ongoing word count six times a day for thirty days, loses 30% of followers]

Agent: I’m begging you not to send me your unpolished NaNoWriMo book in December. Begging.

Unhappy Person: I couldn’t write a book in 30 days and I feel like a failure.

As a general rule, a person’s writing is their business. If you want to write a novel, and NaNoWriMo gives you a useful framework for cheerleading and encouragement, go for it. If you don’t want to do it, it’s not compulsory. If you think that writing a novel in 30 days is stupid, that is a legitimate point of view. If you share that point of view repeatedly and aggressively with people who are enjoying themselves, you’re a jerk. Don’t be a jerk.

There are a few points that bear repeating:

    • Most NaNoWriMoers already know this, but do not start looking up agent/publisher addresses on 1 December. Getting the first draft finished is not the same thing as having a complete MS ready for submission. The End is not the end, and it is not the beginning of the end. It may be the end of the beginning if you’re lucky, but don’t hold your breath.
    • You don’t need to submit your book for publication, and it is not pointless if you don’t. If you’ve finished it and had fun, that’s a huge achievement and an end in itself. You can write for your own pleasure, just like you can paint or draw for your own pleasure; you don’t need the imprimatur of a commercial organisation to make your writing a worthwhile activity.
    • If you can’t write a book in 30 days, you aren’t a failure. Every year I see people unhappy and self-reproaching because they’ve failed to complete NaNo, and it’s so unnecessary. I will never try to do NaNo because I choke around half way in pretty much every MS, and need a week to think about it. If I forced out a bunch more words in order to reach The End by a set date, I’d just have to bin a ton of them and restart where it went wrong, which seems quite epically pointless. You are not a failure if you are not suited to a particular writing challenge.

Enjoy your writing, whatever speed you do it at, whatever month you do it in. Enjoy the buzz of pushing out 50K in a month, or the slow accretion of 30K over a year. Share it in writing groups or online forums, or hug it to yourself. Aim for publication or do it for fun, or don’t do it at all. It’s your writing. Do it your way and let other people get on with theirs.

KJ Charles is a writer and editor. Her most recent release is the short story ‘The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh’, a prequel to the Society of Gentlemen Regency m/m series. Find her on Twitter @kj_charles or at her blog.


~KJ Charles


Title: The Ruin of Gabriel Ashleigh
Author: KJ Charles
Publisher: Loveswept
Publication Date: 10/27/2015
Cover Artist:
Genre: Historical


The youngest son and the blackest sheep in his family, Lord Gabriel Ashleigh never imagined he could sink so low. Though he’s a notoriously bad gambler, he takes on the formidable but strangely alluring Francis Webster, only to lose everything: all his money, the lovely estate he inherited from his aunt, and any hope of future happiness. So it’s a shock when Webster summons him to a private game for a chance to win back his possessions. The stake? If he fails, Ash must surrender his body.

Francis has been waiting years for this moment. At Eton, Ash’s elder brother harassed him relentlessly. Now, consumed by lust and rage, Francis is only too happy to exploit Ash’s foolish indiscretions. But as Francis strips the magnificently built youth—first of his family assets, then his clothes—he begins to wonder whether he’s been plotting revenge . . . or exquisite seduction.

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Farewell Giveaway
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.

Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,

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One thought on “NaNoWriMo and Why You Shouldn’t ~ Outside the Margins with KJ Charles

  1. This whole post bears repeating. I don’t do Nano for a variety of reasons and I doubt I ever will. I think it’s great that a lot of my friends find it motivational. Yes, I get the occasional flash of envy (peer pressure? competitiveness?) watching them churn out the words and post their stats. Then I remember all the reasons this challenge IS NOT RIGHT for me, personally. Best to all who are participating. I’ll wave the pompoms.

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