The NaNoWriMo Rebel


Some writers write outside the box of NaNoWriMo.

This is my third year of NaNo. I almost skipped it for two reasons: I’d rather finish my current projects instead of beginning a new one, and I knew I had to concentrate on my thesis this semester.

I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010 and 2011. As a result I have one complete novel and one in progress. The idea of the second one came during my first NaNoWriMo and I couldn’t wait for 2011 to start it. After that, however, my ideas for a new project were not so clear, and I really wanted to finish my first novel before opening a new blank document.


From the perspective of time and experience, my first time as a Wrimo was my greatest November ever. I felt I was in a fairy tale. I had a lot of responsibilities, but my life focused on writing – this newly-found ability of mine. I was so naïve back then, that I enjoy remembering it, just as I enjoy remembering my teenage and some of its awkward situations.

My second-year NaNo-quest was completely different. I felt businesslike. Again, I had responsibilities that were very different from the previous year. Plus, my schedule was tight. I had no time to blog about my NaNo progress or the writing process or the revelations I had. I had no time to Tweet or post on Facebook. The whole experience had a peculiar tie-and-suit feeling to it.

This time, however, I don’t feel like a Wrimo. I feel like a user of the challenge. I use its word count statistics, its deadlines, and the collective enthusiasm of all Wrimos in order to achieve my goals. I have the somewhat guilty conscience of an average school cheat. I know NaNo Rebels are officially acknowledged as having the right to rebel, and yet I know the truth. The truth is I am not doing a proper NaNo.


Some good things? Oh, there certainly are some. For example, there are some things I don’t do as a Rebel, which normal Wrimos probably do and waste precious time on. Among them:

  • I don’t spend time in Forums, which I loved to do. In fact, I used the Adoption forum, and four of my very important characters came from a thread there. They all belong to the same author and made meaningful appearances in my first novel. I used to go to the Plot Doctoring forum topics for advice on how to manage particular twists and turns in the plot, and some virtual traps authors walk themselves into. I loved the discussions asking for practical advice as to opening hours of institutions, uniforms the characters may wear, or other peculiarities that we seldom notice in life.
  • I don’t use the prop tools that I found very helpful in the previous years. Two years ago I used a Random Name Generator ( which generated around half of my characters’ names. Names are hard for me, as I don’t live in an English-speaking country. People here don’t have English names and I am afraid that, without such help, my text would have one too many Georges, or Johns, or Brigits… I have no idea of what would be adequate surnames either. Perhaps, that is an unreasonable fear, but there you have it – fellow Wrimos have provided authors with that tool. Another helpful tool is one that generates whole identities ( along with date of birth, believable telephone and security numbers, address, occupation and educational background, a real e-mail with password that you can activate, a vehicle, and personal details like height, weight, and blood type. It can generate “identities” from several different countries. Handy, ha?
  • I don’t run background checks for a) synonyms in Thesaurus ( in order to enrich my phrasing, or b) facts and figures in encyclopedias to ensure the story’s sustainability. Once, I used such tools to verify geographical locations, climate, average day- and night-time temperatures… just to make sure my story passes the “reality” check.

Of course, if you are a Rebel writing creatively, such as a series of short stories, essays or memoirs, you’ll probably use these tools. The thing with creative writing, be it fiction or not, is that you have all you need in your head. You may need references here or there, but you “create” the text. How can it be not “true” if you are the creator?


Part of the hardships of NaNo Rebelling while writing non-creative non-fiction is that the writing must be based on reference books and articles, so I need to read, study, analyze and create my own text based on what wise scientists and practitioners before me have concluded. Now, instead of wasting time in Forums, I spend time studying my subject.

Another major setback is that the text I need written at the end will not be anywhere near 50k words. That is because my whole thesis is supposed to be around that volume, whereas the theoretical part should be about half of it. So, I know even now that I can’t complete the NaNo project this year by a long shot. I have been thinking of adding my term assignments on different disciplines at University to the total NaNo word count, as that is actually part of the same thing: a series of assignments/term papers, instead of a series of short stories or blog posts. Still thinking of it.


What is your NaNo Rebel style?


Visit Mariya’s blog at Mariya Koleva.



10 comments for “The NaNoWriMo Rebel

  1. Elizabeth Saunders
    November 19, 2012 at 1:35 pm

    Me, too, Mariya! It just didn’t seem right to churn out another rough draft when I haven’t finished my dream book (started in nano 2008). But I have a year-round nanowrimo community, so I signed up anyway for the encouragement and events.

    One thing I’ve learned this year: writing blogs and articles (or anything else) without a novel that you’re in love with means lower motivation. Since I’m not shooting for 50K, I don’t really have a goal. Maybe next year I’ll sign up for nablopomo (blogging challenge) instead.

    • November 20, 2012 at 1:06 am

      Beth, I understand you very well. Exactly as you say, not having this loved novel as a goal, motivation is really lower. I have a lot of work constantly, but maybe that was so in the previous years, too. Yet, then I managed to pull it off. Now, I just let life get in the way. After all, my thesis is not due before June.
      Next year I’ll either do the real NaNo, or not do it at all.

      Thanks for reading, Beth 🙂

  2. November 19, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    The experience you had your first two years is so similar to how I felt! The third year I tried to work from an outline and only got halfway. I think it has somehow lost its thrill for me. Maybe I should have done Rebel style. I thought of it. To be honest I’ve just been too busy with other things.

    I loved reading about your experience in the forums, which I never really took advantage of. If I have a chance though, I may have a peek to see what they’re all about this year.

    Thanks for the tips – and good luck!
    Linda 🙂

    • November 20, 2012 at 1:17 am

      Linda, the feeling of those first years was very special. Maybe there is something of the Nano-thrill that wears off with time, I don’t know. I think the Rebel style is not bound to lead to success, for me personally. I have tried Camp NaNo, in 2011, where I planned to finish the story of my first novel, and I really reached some place in the story. But the feel is just not the same. It is hard to explain, and I know it’s needless because you know what I mean. 🙂

      As for the Forums, honestly speaking, I frequented them in the first week of my first year. The second time I simply had no time. I would spend two days on the road (500 km in one direction) with no option to write or type while travelling, and two days having classes. All the time I could spare was dedicated to writing only. But some of the Forums are really helpful. People there give some valuable advice. Of course, there are a lot of opinions and comments that are useless. so, you need time 🙂

      Thanks for reading, Linda 🙂

      • Elizabeth Saunders
        November 20, 2012 at 7:19 pm

        My first year, I didn’t have a local nano community and the forums were great. I actually signed up for the regional group where my story was set – in another country! They welcomed me and answered questions as I enjoyed their typed “accents.”

        After that, I enjoyed meeting up in cafes in my region so much I didn’t do much with the forums. They’re both great, but seems I can only do one at the time.

        • November 21, 2012 at 1:42 am

          Oh, Beth, I wish I had thought of that. It sounds like a very smart thing to do. But then my novels were not defined geographically, which is a great problem. So, next time, I will probably do as you did. Asking for info from the people who live somewhere is the best source, in fact.

          In my region, we don’t have a community. Two years ago there was in Sofia, which is the capital city, but it’s too far away.
          Thanks a lot for the idea, Beth 🙂

  3. November 21, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    I made no headway, and decided to concentrate on NovPAD instead – I did three different ones simultaneously, so my brain had a good workout. One day I’ll do the Nano but this wasn’t the year for it to happen. I did enjoy reading about your experience with it though, as it’s given me valuable insight.

  4. November 22, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Misky, thanks a lot for reading! The NaNo is really a challenge and most people do either it, or the NovPAD. It is so hard to do both. I did all the time, but you see – this year, with no sincere intention to do the NaNo, I myself have not been doing so well. I have been reading and analysing a lot of research papers, but hardly put anything in writing. 🙂 Next time, I’ll do it the proper way.

  5. November 28, 2012 at 11:01 am

    Mariya, I think your post has brought out the rebels among us! I didn’t do NaNo this year because I wasn’t ready with a new idea. NOW I have one! So maybe next time, or I’ll use it as I have in the past, to pad out a manuscript I’ve already started. I see nothing wrong with using the motivation of NaNo as it suits our individual needs. It’s nice to crank out a 50,000 word draft, and I certainly salute those who have done it! Thanks for sharing this informative post with us here at WSS!

    • November 29, 2012 at 9:02 am

      Gerry, thanks a lot! It’s good that the NaNo community are not too harsh on such as me 🙂 Maybe next year I’ll come with a fresh idea and write another novel, or maybe I’ll pass. The opinions I got on my second project were not too good, and that put me out of the mood for writing. Now, I really doubt myself. Perhaps I should spend more years reading before I try writing again.
      As things go now, I may say that my rebel project is a complete failure. Of my research, I wrote about 15k and not so good quality, of course. In brief, rebelious NaNo-ing is not for me.
      Best, M.

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