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HolNoWriMo: A NaNo Alternative

So I think it probably goes without saying that NaNoWriMo is not for the faint of heart. 50,000 words? 30 days? I’m no mathematician, but 50,000/30 is definitely more than 1,000 words per day, and in fact it’s a little too close to 2,000 words per day for my comfort.

Statistically speaking (because statistics are a MATH THING and are therefore v. important and official), the odds of Anne Riley writing almost 2,000 words per day are somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/49.6 million.

There are some days I measure my writing time in five-minute increments because that is how long we have between classes here at Ye Olde High School.

Most days, I write less than 500 words.

Some days, I don’t write at all.

And if I dare–DARE–get my laptop out while the toddler watches Dora in the afternoons, rest assured that at some point, she will lean over to see what I’m doing and shout “I CAN PUSH BUTTONS” and then, in the span of about .14 seconds, she will perform some kind of deadly keyboard shortcut that deletes everything I’ve done and turns my screen black for fifteen minutes and then also somehow posts a garbled status to Facebook.

If I’ve learned one thing in the past few years, it’s this: Never use a computer within fifty feet of a toddler.

You’re welcome.


The point is, my good friend Jessica and I have been lamenting the situation of Our Free Time vs. The Possibility Of Winning NaNo, and today we finally decided something that has set us free and, dare I say, rekindled the hope of completing a first draft before the end of 2013.

Our decision was to do NaNo… sort of.

Instead of trying (and, let’s face it, probably failing) to complete a 50,000 word first draft in the month of November, we’re going to take the holiday months of November AND December. That’s 61 days instead of 30, which is about 820 words per day.

And that, Grasshoppers, is a number I can get behind.

So it is with great pleasure that I introduce you to HolNoWriMo: Holiday Novel Writing Months.


If you’re in the same boat as Jessica and me–strapped for time and sanity, but wanting the community and needing a deadline you can meet without wanting to die–feel free to join us!

Here’s how we’re doing it.

1) We’re both members on the NaNo website. This is where we’ll find the community of NaNo. We’ll spur each other on, we’ll be encouraged, we’ll make new friends. In the words of Michael Scott, it’s a win-win-win.

(Incidentally, if you’d like to “friend” us, you can find my profile HERE and Jessica’s HERE.)

2) We’re using that little logo up there to spread the word. Feel free to steal and repost it anywhere you want.

3) We’re going to provide a WINNER BADGE for anyone who finishes 50,000 words by New Year’s Eve. We haven’t designed it yet, but my guess is it will be the HolNoWriMo logo with the word “winner” somewhere on it.

(Because we are nothing if not fancy.)

Now listen, I can FEEL some of you thinking, “But the crazy pace of it is FUN!” And I get that crazy can be fun. Really, I do. But when you’ve already got a day job and two small children, fun crazy turns into stabby crazy which leads directly to sobbing in the corner of your kitchen underneath a pile of applesauce-coated baby spoons.

And nobody wants that.

In conclusion: If you, too, are alternately intrigued and terrified by the concept of finishing a draft in 30 days, try HolNoWriMo instead. Steal our logo. Join the NaNo community. And take an extra 31 days to finish your draft.

Godspeed, everyone.


12 thoughts on “HolNoWriMo: A NaNo Alternative

  1. Oh, Anne, this is a great idea! I love NaNo too, but it never feels like enough time and then I end up losing and feeling crappy about myself, blah, blah, blah, but THIS, this I can get behind! Thank you and Jessica for coming up with this brilliant idea! 🙂

  2. I love you and Jessica SOOO much! I’d already prepared myself to “lose” Nanowrimo, but was just hoping to get lots of words out of it. This is absolutely perfect for a busy mom of four. It means we can all wear clean underwear in November, and what’s not to love about that?

  3. I love this. I “won” NaNo last year but what I wrote is so horrible and I seriously almost lost my mind. Plus it cut in to my birthday celebrations ;P
    I think I’m in.

  4. Oh my dear Anne, this is also perfect for the full-time job holder/full-time student. I think I love you (and Jess).

    You know what would make this EVEN BETTER?! An MCL WRITING SESSION because then when I’m all “la di da..OOH! Shiny internet!” you guys can actually kick me back into gear. Although, that may hurt so be gentle.


  5. Woot! Awesome! Good luck! I did NaNo last year and got 30K, but I did no planning. This year, I already know what I’m writing, just need to iron out a few details before NaNo starts. We’ll see if I can do it. Even if I don’t get it in November, I should, theoretically, hit 50K by New Years. 😀

    We’ll see.

  6. 61 days to complete, 820 words per day, 39 fewer lunchtime naps, 2 new erasers, 24 .5mm leads, 280 sheets of paper, and not a topic in my head…I’m in!

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