Fanmail FAQ: NaNoWriMo


Do you know about National Novel Writing Month? I’ve tried it for three years now, though I’ve only ever managed to make 50,000 words one time back in 2009.

I was just wondering if you’d ever tried it. In some ways, it seems like it might be like your thing. But the more I thought about it, it seems like it might NOT be your thing. Your writing is really carefully put together, mythic and lyrical, so I could see how your style wouldn’t really lend itself to being able to write a whole 50,000 words in a single month.

So I guess I have two questions:

1. Have you ever done NaNoWriMo? (I’m guessing no, because I couldn’t find you on their website.)

2. Do you have any tips for keeping up this grueling writing pace? How do you stay motivated?

A fan,


For those of you who don’t know what Jake is talking about, National Novel Writing Month is when people who want to write get together in November and vow to get 50,000 words done on their novels in a single month.

I’ve actually known about it since the year 2000. I remember the date because one of my web-savvy friends caught wind of it. He knew I’d been working on a novel and thought I might be interested.

My immediate reaction was dismissive disdain.

You see, in November of 2000, I was in the midst of the most productive writing jag of my entire life. I’d been working on “The Book” off and on for over six years, and I was finally closing in on the end of huge arcing story that I’d started by writing, “My name is Kvothe” on a friend’s computer back in 1994.

At that time in my life, I’d been tracking my writing progress for a couple years. I was taking it seriously and held myself accountable for 1500 words or three hours of writing a day. Whichever came first.

I’d been keeping up that pace for the better part of a year. But as I closed in on the ending of my story, the writing got faster and faster. I could write for 10 or 12 hours at a stretch, day after day, and it came easy as breathing.

So when my friend brought NaNoWriMo to my attention, my thoughts were roughly along these lines:

“I laugh at your piddly 50,000 words! I am a golden god of writing! I’ve been doing this on my own for years! I don’t need some gimmicky bullshit for encouragement! I’m a *real* writer….”

Over the next couple weeks, I finished my draft and started revising. Several months later, I went to grad school. There, under the soul-crushing boot heel of academia, my vast torrent of creative output dwindled until it was a tiny trickle that resembled an an old man in Waiting for Godot trying to take a piss.

I spent the lion’s share of the next two years getting rejected by agents, revising The Book, then getting rejected by agents again. When someone pointed out NaNoWriMo a second time, I looked down my nose at it, thinking something along the lines of:

” Writing is something you do all the time, not just one month out of the year! Besides, it’s not the length of a book that matters. It’s how polished it is. I know that now because I’m a *real* writer.”

In 2005, a third friend mentioned NaNoWriMo to me. Again, I scoffed at it:

“I’ve been published in an anthology,” I thought to myself. “I have an agent. I’ve written a 500,000 word fantasy trilogy. I have nothing to prove. I write because I’m a writer, not because for one month out of the year it’s fashionable. I’m not doing this out of some desperate need for social approbation. I’m doing this because I’m a *real* writer.”

By 2008 The Name of the Wind had been on the shelves for a year, and I was woefully behind deadline for the second book. Some of my fans asked me if I was going to participate in NaNoWriMo. It came at a bad time, because I was feeling guilty for missing my deadline. So this time I didn’t merely scoff, I scorned:

“I’m a professional author now,” I thought. “I’ve sold a book. I’ve hit the New York Times bestseller list. I’m published in multiple countries. I don’t need to get into a circle and sing kumbaya. I don’t need to join a cult of newbies and wankers. I write because it’s my job. I’m a *real* writer.”

Now it’s 2011 and people are asking me about NaNoWriMo again. You’re not the only one, Jake.

I like to think I’m a little wiser than I was a few years ago. I’ve certainly learned a lot about writing. If nothing else, I’ve come to realize one single fact:

Anything that motivates you to write is a good thing.

For some people, having a writing group helps. Others take a class. Some people go out and get their MFA’s. Some people drink gin and smoke black tar heroin.

And for some people, NaNoWriMo provides a swift kick up the ass that helps them put pen to paper.

Everyone is different. Ultimately, what motivates a writer is a very personal thing. What works for me, Jake, might not work for you….

For example I’ve come to realize that I have a strong seam of contrarian in the bedrock of my personality. If someone says I can’t do something, a piece of my hind brain rears up and says, “the fuck I can’t!”

In the past this has led me into trouble. I’ve done all manner of stupid shit because someone’s dared presume I wouldn’t. Examples include making a naked snow angel, living for a week using nothing but my wits and three dollars, and eating an entire package of ranch seasoning. (Not ranch dressing, mind you. That would have been easy. I’m talking about the seasoning packet that you would use to make a pint of ranch dressing.)

I’ve mellowed somewhat in my old age, and these days the heavy-handed “I dare you…” taunts that used to set me off no longer have any power to sway me.

But your subtle implication that my writing style “wouldn’t really lend itself to being able to write a whole 50,000 words in a single month” made me raise my hackles a little bit.

“Who does this little punk think he is?” I found myself thinking. “Implying I can’t swing NaNoWriMo? You think I can’t be mythic and lyric AND write 50,000 words? The fuck I can’t!”

So. I’m going to participate this year. What’s more, I’m going to officially start now, on November 7th. That’s right, Jake, I’ve given you a week’s head start. You just try to stay ahead of me.

For more than a decade, I didn’t give NaNoWriMo a fair shot. More than that, I actively maligned it.

But never let it be said I can’t admit I’m wrong. I’m willing to eat my words. I’d make you eat your words too, Jake. But you know what? I’m going to eat them instead. I’m going to eat all the words I can get my hands on in this next month and turn them into mythic, lyric story that will break your heart.

And then I’m going to go update my wordcount on the profile I just created on the NaNoWriMo website.

Because I’m a real writer.


This entry was posted in Fanmail Q + A, FAQ, My Iconoclastic Tendencies, the craft of writingBy Pat95 Responses


  1. luxregit
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:05 AM | Permalink

    The synopsis says it’s about Kvothe!!!! WooHHHOOOO!!!

    We get to read what you write yeh??

    Please say yes.

    • luxregit
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:26 AM | Permalink

      Argh. I blame my momentary delusional excitement and misconstruing of your post on crazy pregnancy hormones.

      So, you’ll be doing the 50,000 for book 3. Not some spishy side story that may never have gotten told if you hadn’t risen to the punk’s bait and decided to join the fun. Not some brilliant story that we could feast on for a while, savouring it while we wait for the next book…

      I can wait for book 3. I can. Years. I am strong.

      • Posted November 8, 2011 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

        Well…. I never actually said I’m working *exclusively* on book three.

        The way I view things, I’m committing to do 50,000 words of writing on creative projects….

        • Jack
          Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:06 PM | Permalink

          I don’t think I’ve squee’d this hard in quite some time.

  2. Ctlacey
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:10 AM | Permalink

    Well, I guess you’ve given an insight into being to be a *real* writer. I might just start using the same tactics see where it gets me.

  3. Gnavin
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:11 AM | Permalink

    Aaah, Pat. I’m somewhat the same as you, though I don’t often get told I can’t do things, which is probably just as well… :p

    I like the idea of NaNo, but I’ve never gotten into it as I have trouble forming an overarching narrative to explore and guide my writing. I write by thinking of a cool scene, and then rolling it around in my head until I can get it on paper, then write it all out to whatever conclusion it leads to… And then I let that rest until the next cool scene strikes me. :p
    So as much as I’d like to do NaNo, I really, *really* suck at commiting to writing in the long term. :)
    Best of luck to you and everyone else, though! Go for it!

  4. maine character
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:18 AM | Permalink

    Faulkner would raise a glass to you.

  5. Frank
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:20 AM | Permalink

    I wouldn’t have dared you like jake did. Because I’m terribly unsure of my own pace (I’ve failed NaNo for two years now, this is my first year actually getting somewhere) and I’m unsure of you not being able to make it easily. But, I am honoured, good sir. And with your wordcount to look at and strive towards, and think about in my NaNoNightmares (Damn him, he’s had a week’s progress for me in two days, what do I DO!) there is no way I can fail this year. Good luck therefore! May you succeed so I will too! xD

  6. Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:21 AM | Permalink

    This post fills me with such a level of joy that I daresay I can not place words upon it’s magnitude.

    If I had any real level of talent when it comes to writing (I don’t, I’ve tried, I stick to drawing) I would join in on this endeavor.

  7. Tom
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:26 AM | Permalink

    You sir, are brave.
    Entering a writing competition the same month that Skyrim comes out :D

    • Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:59 AM | Permalink

      Nah. I can’t touch that shit. Not for a long time. Games like that eat my life….

      • dotdrew
        Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:32 AM | Permalink

        I thought this would be as good of a place as any to mention, my first play through will be as a red-haired Nord named Kvothe, skilled in one-handed weapons, sneaking and a few bits of magic. It’s going to be beautiful.

        • Tager
          Posted November 7, 2011 at 10:05 AM | Permalink

          I already have a few thief type characters on Oblivion called Kvothe where I spend my time stealing from shops and sneaking around the city at night time, every now and then a blow up a few guards with some kinetic spells.

      • pjmintz
        Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:45 AM | Permalink

        I think Skyrim is about to eat my life, too. My 2-year-old can feed and care for my 8-month old, right?

        (Statements like the one above prove that there’s a good and valid reason for my husband forbidding me to get anywhere near World of Warcraft. At least Elder Scrolls games END. Eventually.)

        • justajenjen
          Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:42 PM | Permalink

          Do like I did. I made my son a character, leveled him up enough to do pvp, set up the macros, and let him pound on the keyboard. When he was 7 months old, he had a higher pvp rating than my main I played for 5 years on WoW. I’m taking a WoW break right now and bought Dragon Age from Steam. The kid is 2 now and likes this game, too. Ok, well, he likes the dog. It’s also not been uncommon for me to find my son, the aptly nicknamed Nerdbaby, to come and start up the computer and play Portal on his own, at 3am. He likes to shoot the portal gun and hear Still Alive. I’m so proud of my gamer baby. I guess I can’t complain. I used to raid while nursing, so I only have myself to blame if my kid wants to play all my games.

      • Tempi
        Posted November 8, 2011 at 4:58 AM | Permalink

        I hope they include denner resin in Skyrim, cause I am going to be drugging up so many dracchus’ if they do.

      • riptorn41
        Posted November 8, 2011 at 8:22 AM | Permalink

        I think its a test the universe is throwing at us…NaNoWriMo the same month Skyrim, CoDMW3, AND Zelda come out…not to mention all the awesome books that release. Argh.

    • barnacle
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 10:45 AM | Permalink

      I laugh at your notions of Skyrim!
      What will I be doing on 11/11/11? Joining a NaNo competition to write 11,111 words, of course!

      (..I’ll be getting Skyrim at christmas. No time for anything else this november.)

    • wandaXmaximoff
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:47 PM | Permalink

      And that’s why I did NaNo in October.

  8. CapitanaCanija
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:33 AM | Permalink

    I love your profile. You have encouraged me to do NaNoWriMo this year…but I think it is a bit late for me. I can’t do it starting on November 7th >.< Maybe next year!

    • bremon
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:13 AM | Permalink

      There is also a Julnowrimo, Nanowriye, and a bunch of other crazy things if you cannot do it this year. But I know a few people who have started late. Give it a shot?

    • huoxingren
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

      D’Arvit, love your nickname ;)

  9. Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:38 AM | Permalink

    I may not go for black tar heroin, but I do keep a bottle of scotch on my desk to feel more like a “real writer.” I haven’t quite figured out how to channel Hemingway, but surrounding myself with things that remind me what I’m trying to do seems to help.

    Now including Ms. January: The Sexy Melville Girl.

  10. missalena
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:40 AM | Permalink


  11. Lochcelious
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:49 AM | Permalink

    It says Book III of the Kingkiller Chronicles…that doesn’t seem right…does it? I am not saying I know what is going on, merely questioning what is. I know it won’t be the third in the trilogy…just wondering if it is a code-name, mayhap.

  12. Katori29
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:51 AM | Permalink

    Your profile Bio is absolutely hilarious!! I kept laughing harder and harder as I went, with my wife asking “what??”. So I read It to her. You are indeed the King of Awesome. Long live The King!

  13. azurefalls
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 4:12 AM | Permalink

    I was reading this with a squint, expecting you to piss all over NaNoWriMo like a lot of published authors do… but I’m pleasantly surprised! I think.
    I’ve never really seen NaNo as “fashionable”, but I guess I know what you mean. For me (university student), it’s motivation to actually get my butt into action… and I’m too competitive to let my friends beat me at it. Glad you’re having a go!
    I can’t think you’d have any trouble with it, but… good luck, I guess?

  14. Fushi
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 5:01 AM | Permalink

    I was laughing so hard while reading this, because Korn’s “Y’all want a single” song came on in the background. While I’m no huge Korn fan, the song was perfect for this post.

  15. Marcus Cox
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 5:30 AM | Permalink

    I can’t say I’ve ever actually looked at it as a “Now is the time to write because everyone else is doing it” sort of thing. More of a “We challenge you to write 50,000 words in 30 days because we recognize that life is really busy for the normal person so actually getting going is the hardest part.”

    Hey Pat, on a totally unrelated side note in your facebook post yesterday when you pondered how many people would have to die for you to become King of England was that a reference to “We Can Get Them For You Wholesale” by Neil Gaiman?

  16. hmwilliams83
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 6:50 AM | Permalink

    Starting seven days behind…somehow I do not think it will be any problem for your Mr. Rothfuss. Your word count per novel is freaking crazy. And if someone like me, who writes just because, can pass 25,000 words in 5 days I’m sure you can best 50,000 in 23 days.

    Also, I added you to my buddy list just so I can feel like a dunce watching your word count soar.

    And like Marcus Cox above, I see it as the challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days smack in the middle of the craziness of life. And I suffer the same reaction to “You Can’t”s that you used to. Last year was the first year I really tried. My own mother scoffed “You can’t do that!” Well I did. And then I did it again for camp NaNoWriMo in August and I’m well on my may for this month’s challenge.

  17. emuroo
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:11 AM | Permalink

    Yay! I”m glad that you’re doing it, because it’s really fun, not just because it gets you writing, which you’ve obviously managed, but because you’re doing it with so many other people. I love it because it’s a month when I can say to myself, ‘no, it’s okay to not do a perfect job on your homework, good enough is good enough, you’ve made yourself another promise this month’, and that lets me stop obsessing over other things.

  18. wysen
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:32 AM | Permalink

    Booya! It is also my first year NaNoWriMoing. I had scoffed before, but this year I’ve been so lackadaisical in my writing that I decided to take the challenge. I raise this word count to you! Good luck, good sir!

  19. fordified
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

    Disclaimer: Sorry if I’m not allowed to do this.

    For those too lazy to google. I copied Pat’s profile from NaNoWriMo for all to enjoy.

    Author bio:
    Patrick Rothfuss sprung fully formed from Marge Rothfuss, his mother, in Madison Wisconsin. In a mere three months, Pat grew to the height of a man while teaching himself to read and write using only a shovel and a dead cat.

    When the voices told him to, Pat left home to attend college in at University Wisconsin Stevens Point where he joined Slytherin house and had many wonderful adventures. After graduating, Pat evolved into a being of pure light and energy. Then he went to grad school and evolved even further into being composed entirely of bile, rage, binder twine, and sweet, sweet, methadone. After grad school Pat joined forces with five plucky Japanese schoolgirls to form a giant robot that fights crime.

    Through all of this Pat has read fantasy, watched fantasy, and written fantasy. Some academics have suggested that Pat eats, sleeps, and breathes fantasy, but this is simply untrue. The truth is that Pat eats burritos, sleeps like a drooly baby, and breathes a white-hot plasma composed of molten gold and rage.

  20. inobscuritysembrace
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 7:52 AM | Permalink

    I mean, Gaiman does NaNo. That means it has to be a good thing, right?

    • inobscuritysembrace
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 2:52 PM | Permalink

      The above is a lie that was the result of a far too hasty reading of a post in Mr. Gaiman’s blog archive. I apologize profusely and would delete the comment if I had that ability.

  21. ChingTsun
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:12 AM | Permalink

    I dunno, this seems like an elaborate plot to get Pat to write 50k words of work done on book 3 this month…….. or as he would call it a chapter

    • Beej
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:48 PM | Permalink

      Shhhh….you weren’t supposed to tell him that we’d set up this elaborate ruse just to get him to write even faster…

  22. Aerron
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:23 AM | Permalink

    I am really excited to see what you write! I hope it’ll be something in Kvothe’s world, without being about Kvothe.

  23. Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:24 AM | Permalink

    *cheers* I know you mentioned thinking about it, once upon a time; I’m kind of excited you decided to join the collective. :3

    I went and cocked off to my friends about being able to write more than any of them, then I didn’t write much of anything for three days. I am already making smart decisions.

    (I have an issue with contrariness, too; I somehow convinced myself, the first time I did NaNoWriMo, that everyone was expecting me to fail. I got really pissed off, and finished the last 20 or 30 thousand words during the final five-ish days just to spite anyone who thought I couldn’t do it.)

  24. Frank
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:35 AM | Permalink

    What, Gaiman does NaNo? Damn. That’s like… double the motivation. I thank you both!

  25. Posted November 7, 2011 at 8:44 AM | Permalink

    This is my first year participating in NaNoWriMo. I logged more than 6,000 words on days one and two, but it hasn’t been going well the last couple of days. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to catch up. But now that I have you as a writing buddy I know I can do it!

    • bremon
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:15 AM | Permalink

      Added to that, the second week gets really hard to keep trucking. That’s when all the self-doubt creeps in. I hope you get your word count up, Lorien! Good luck!

  26. D_
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:11 AM | Permalink

    Kick epic ass!

  27. iceblinc
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:22 AM | Permalink

    Go Pat go!!!

  28. Katie.
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 9:38 AM | Permalink

    I am sitting in a crowded Linc surrounded by other pupils, generally giggling like a caught-out school girl over this post- its hilarious!. I love your writing style, I shall definately be reading your contributions on the site!

  29. barnacle
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 10:08 AM | Permalink

    Dear God.
    You’ve just ruined my life.
    Now I have to keep writing just to say “Yeah, I’m doing better than Patrick Rothfuss right now…”. This is going to hurt.

  30. Posted November 7, 2011 at 10:20 AM | Permalink

    Did you just #patwebfail

    FWIW, I’m doing it because in between revising The Book and getting rejected by agents, it’s sort of fun to make yourself write new words for a change. And because what else would you want to do when you have a job search to get done and a six-week-old infant to take care of?

  31. LaFleur
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 10:30 AM | Permalink

    It seems that pats awesomeness had brought down the website at

  32. taylor_s
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 10:38 AM | Permalink

    That’s awesome, Pat.

    I decided to embark on NaNo for the first time this year, myself. I love writing, and think constantly about different ideas and the like. The motivation is difficult, and especially starting can be difficult. For me, NaNo gives me a measurable, determined way to be disciplined, to put words down, and some higher power of accountability than “Oh well, I didn’t meet it! I’m going to go drink gin and smoke black tar heroin instead!”

    This is by far the longest attempt I’ve made at writing, and I hope through (much) revision to turn it into a readable, competent book. I’ve been surprised with my progress and enjoyment so far.

    It’s very encouraging to see you dive in! And as a section for the last installment of your trilogy (presuming from your novel title). I would be tremendously interested in seeing some of your work from NaNo, pre-edited. We all have seen your published words, and they are indeed majestic, but the stream-of-consciousness aspect is very interesting in and of itself!

    Best wishes, Pat, and I hope you find it really exciting.

  33. SeekingPlumb
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

    Sir, you are the bomb! Love reading your posts!

  34. General_Disaray
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:18 AM | Permalink

    So I was reading Scalzi’s Blog the other day, and he was all like: “Those of you out there trying to be clever, don’t. Just don’t. It will make you look like an asshole.”

    But do I listen? No. I write clever comments on your blog that make me seem like an asshole. Perhaps I have, how did you put it? A “strong seam of contrarian in the bedrock of my personality.”

    I am obeying Scalzi’s suggestion that during first contact fanboy be polite to famous person. And since we’ve met before at a reading that totally gave me a boner for Anya… uh… Amber Benson, and you smiled at me indicating that we are now lifelong friends never to be separated by the distance created by fanboy and object of fanboy’s adoration: I present to you my cleverness (not to be misinterpreted as assholary).

    Hah! I crush your puny 1250 words! I write 1250 words for breakfast!

    You know what? I bet that you can’t write 400,000 words in one month! You cannot do it! Even with your mighty caricatured body and hot Felurian cartoon companion at your side. I am SURE. I’d bet all I have (including twenty-one boxes of magic cards (the long ones that store eight hundred, not the wimpy ones that only hold two hundred fifty) and the brand new Star Wars Blue Ray collection my wife just got me for my birthday) that you cannot!

    I laugh at your 1250 words.


    Ha! Ha! Ha!

    Muhu (see above list of Ha’s)

  35. CBiddle
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:21 AM | Permalink

    Kick his ass, Sea Bass!

  36. Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:27 AM | Permalink

    I am so crazy excited for this! I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo for four years now, and being able to see you tear through 50,000 words is going to be an even bigger kick in the ass to get me into high gear.

    I hope we can read your story at some point!

    My NaNoWriMo

  37. Mossy Toes
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:43 AM | Permalink

    Eeeeeeeee! So awesome!

    • Mossy Toes
      Posted November 7, 2011 at 1:57 PM | Permalink

      Hmmm, on reflection, I wonder what the subject matter is. The missing “Sea at storm” chapters of WMF (and/or the trial in which he learns Tema)? A chunk of sub-plots that will be vital to update the draft of Book 3? Or something else entirely, something wholly different with Kvothe in…

  38. Yoni
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:44 AM | Permalink

    *** Spoiler alert***

    The plot for book 3 revealed – “A guy named Kvothe runs around and does a lot of stuff.”

    haha – good stuff.

    But how will we know if you actually written 50k? I suppose you’ll just have to show us…

  39. Robin the Acolyte
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:54 AM | Permalink

    Welcome to NaNoWriMo, my Golden God of Writing!

    For those of you who are intimidated by the 50,000 words NaNoWriMo requires to “win”, I invite you to join me in #NeedToWriteMo and alternative I have created for those of us who a) work full time and b) actually care about what words we put on the paper, and/or c) never learned to type properly and so are more apt to complete 1000 words per day than 1667.

    The only requirement is a legitimate, concerted effort to write every day in November. I committed to doing 15 minutes each day minimum and once I actually sit down and DO it, I usually end up writing for two hours.

    So far I’m winning NeedToWriteMo, and it’s very rewarding. Plus after a nightly success, I give myself a more immediate reward: Chocolate Peanut Butter Buckeye Cake. Yum.

  40. Rhia
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 1:40 PM | Permalink

    Yaaay! Welcome to the NaNo family! (I just added you as my buddy, if I may be so frank, my Username there is Cygfa).
    And, I feel bold enough to point out one misconception about NaNo that Jake seems to have: NaNo is first and foremost about getting yourself to write everyday (I manage to do that most days anyway, but NaNo gives me an extra push, especially now that University has started again and I’m swamped with coursework). The polishing comes after NaNo is done for most participants – just as it does for most writers anyway, I guess. I remember reading something along those line on the NaNo website, but don’t ask me where. Maybe it was in one of the pep talks the last time I participated.

    Anyway, good luck with your first NaNo!

  41. He without a clever name
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 2:17 PM | Permalink

    I’ve had fun with it in the past, but don’t have the time this year. I try to write 20,000 words a month and that eats so much time. It was a blast the years I did do it, though, particularly the first year my wife and I did it and exchanged 50,ooo word unfinished novels to each other on the 1st of December. I still have hard copies of those two unfinished stories to remind both of us whenever we get really down on our writing that it is so much better now than it use to be.

    Have fun with it all who participate! Enjoy the rush of seeing your bar and graphs go up!

  42. chaelek
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:40 PM | Permalink

    This blog actually inspired me to start a NaNoWriMo account, and to pick up a project I had let flag. So I guess this article was my inspiration, or meta inspiration. I’m not sure.

  43. wandaXmaximoff
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 3:53 PM | Permalink

    Good for you, Pat.

    I’ve done NaNoWrimo for the past two years, and gotten a lot out of it.

    I understand the notion of not needing a special month to write, but for some people 50,000 words or more can seem daunting, and its the motivation they need to commit to something so big.

    Plus, if you write that much in a month, its very hard to then just give up on the story, because you’ve come so far.

    I know for me it was the kick up the butt I needed to do something with ideas I’d had floating around for years.

    I hope you get something worthwhile out of the experience, and reach 50,ooo words if that’s the goal you’ve set yourself.

  44. Kashiraja
    Posted November 7, 2011 at 4:08 PM | Permalink

    knowing you’re writing brings some light to the world :) if I could I’d send you some homemade Italian food

  45. Posted November 7, 2011 at 11:04 PM | Permalink

    I’ve noticed over the years that most writers will tell you they write in the range of 500 – 1000 words of first draft per hour, and can manage 1000 – 2000 words per day, so NaNoWriMo (which oughta be InNoWriMo, damnit!) should be eminently do-able even for a pro who cares about their words.

    In full spate some pros can go a lot faster–there was an interview with Scottish horror novelist Iain M Banks saying he writes those big fat books in about six weeks. Robert Heinlein famously wrote the bulk of “Glory Road” in 17 days.

    Success as a writer is in no small part about discipline, and I think NaNoWriMo is a great way for people to find out a bit about themselves, to see if they’ve got the beginnings of what it takes. I’ve got a novel sitting in the slush pile at Baen, and while it didn’t start life in NaNoWriMo, I did spend a couple of Novembers a few years ago writing, just to show myself I could, which helped when it came to committing to a much bigger and scarier project.

  46. lvdpal
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 2:01 AM | Permalink

    Well, I didn’t start on November 7. I started on the first of the month. But then I had three days of convention, and two days of none-writing weekend afterwards. And there will be three more days of convention in the near future. So I’d guess that almost makes us even in writing duration.

    See you at the finish line!

    (Who did Nanowrimo 8 times and won 7 of them.)

  47. Rikku
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:45 AM | Permalink

    Sir! I was struggling with my story a bit – the silly thing was getting into all sorts of odd tangles, it was a bit inconvenient – and finding it kinda tricky to get motivation and then I read this and got motivated like ANYTHING.

    So much motivation.

    And now I’m all bouncy and gleeful about NaNo again – which is how it should be! – and my story made sense again for long enough for me to write a scene I’m delighted with and now it’s stopped making sense and there are not words for how much I look forward to untangling whatever’s wrong with it now so I can get to the brilliant part again, the part where everything fits together and flows and the story’s just sort of happening and you’re typing as fast as you can to keep up because you need to know what happens next! The brilliant part where it’s pure creation and pure joy and none of the problems matter because are the word-gods and we are the makers. We are the madmen. And this is our month.

    … NaNo tends to make me write too much. Er. I’ll now go and be overly verbose and philosophical on my story now, instead. =D Thanks to you. So. Er. Thank you. Really. And I look forward to seeing that wordcount bar of yours rocket up, and I really, really look forward to reading whatever excerpt you see fit to post.

    You’ll be mythic and lyrical like anything.

    You’ll be mythilyrical.

  48. Ojodelgato
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 8:01 AM | Permalink


    Good luck to you and anyone taking this challenge. I’m not a professional writer so I can’t comment on the 50K word / month target. I agree with the idea of setting a target so high that it takes real goddamn effort to put a checkmark in the “done” column. From the comments here it sounds like this one’s a doozy.

  49. D.W.Westley
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 12:29 PM | Permalink

    I started mine Yesterday, procrastination is key. Going great so far.

  50. Faqtiskt
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 3:37 PM | Permalink


  51. passingwind
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 4:43 PM | Permalink

    Dear Pat,

    50,000 words in a month??? Man please!!! **Real** writers can complete an entire epic fantasy novel per year!

    George RR Martin

    • Shintai
      Posted November 8, 2011 at 9:52 PM | Permalink

      OH Noooo he DI’iNT! oh man… dude Pat you have officially been called out….

      all I can say is when HBO picks up The Kingkiller Chronicle- Game of Thrones ratings will be paultry in comparison ( much love Mr. Martin- heh… but Mr. Rothfuss is da man.)

      pat – kill it sir! you probably single handedly are gonna win a new award from these NaNoWriMo folks anyway – when they realize they have to create one just to accomodate their site crashing from all of your gazEEEEllions of fans droooling to read your every letter!

      much love
      a VERY devoted fan.

    • tscott.iv
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:50 AM | Permalink

      Ummm…hey George, ah, yeah, I don’t want to point fingers here…glass houses and all…but didn’t it take you 6 years to publish the last Song of Ice and Fire book, A Dance with Dragons???

      Good Luck Pat.

      • passingwind
        Posted November 10, 2011 at 12:57 PM | Permalink

        Yes….hard to type sarcasm in a post.

        • tscott.iv
          Posted November 10, 2011 at 4:02 PM | Permalink

          See, I didn’t get sarcasm from that, I got making fun of George :-) Just trying to banter…hope I didn’t ruin it too much…

  52. ryssgarden
    Posted November 8, 2011 at 6:53 PM | Permalink

    You think one lousy packet of ranch dressing mix makes you a man? Tough guy? I once ate an ENTIRE JAR OF BEEF BOUILLON CUBES at one sitting! Better yet, I did it to impress a girl, and I was only 9 years old! That was in 1966, and my sodium levels are just now coming back to normal. And she wasn’t impressed.

  53. Posted November 8, 2011 at 11:52 PM | Permalink

    Awesome post Pat!
    I dig it when you talk about writing.
    I’m one of those non-Golden-Gods slogging my way up to an MFA.

    For the record, I once swallowed a whole dried Habanero pepper and then drank a bottle of barbecue sauce to impress a girl. Funny thing was, she wasn’t impressed.

  54. WolfMoon
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 12:44 AM | Permalink

    Like a lot of the other people who’ve commented, I was so immediately inspired to join NaNoWriMo as well. I may be 9 days late, but with some luck I’ll be able to catch up.

    I just so happen to have been starting work on new story after getting too bogged down in my old one – hopefully NaNoWriMo will be the kick up the backside I need to jump start this story and maybe even turn it into something that has a PLOT, with a start and a finish and events in the middle. The middle is always the hardest part for me.

    Thanks for being an inspiration!

  55. Stevo
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:51 AM | Permalink

    Hell, that post got me pumped up Pat! Off to the Gym….. :D

  56. bremon
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:21 AM | Permalink

    It’s so awesome that you are doing Nano, that my brain simply cannot comprehend the full awesomeness of it. I shall have to think hard about it as I head off to my job today, and if anyone’s mail gets misdelivered at the UND campus, I’m terribly sorry. I’m thinking about this. It’s much more awesome.
    It’s also great that so many people are heading over to nano because of this. My brother got me into it. So I guess I could say that I once wrote 50,000 words in a month to impress my brother. Though he ended up writing more and it had way better plot, so whatever.
    My username is necropolitician, and I just went off and added you, sir Rothfuss.
    Now I need to tell all of my friends.

  57. Luke
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 7:47 AM | Permalink

    1,250 words the first day? Not bad. 1,250 x 22 = 27,500. If I were your personal trainer, I’d tell you to stop warming up and turn that 1,250 into 2,500. And since, I’ve already decided to imagine myself your trainer, a little smack talk:

    Is there a mythic and lyrical counter, or are we supposed to just believe you?

    I, for one, was expecting you to blog something like, lyric and mythical comes in the revising. But to think that you can write mythic and lyrical on your first go, that is either high talent, high swagger, or just plain… high.

    But then, #1 best-selling authors are allowed a little room for massive nads they carry. Go to it. I dare you.

    Don’t sprain your back lifting all those words.

  58. origami
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 12:31 PM | Permalink

    Dear Pat. Check out the Dares 2011 thread in the Reaching 50,000 section of the forums. They’re a lot of fun. Write-ins are goofy awesome fun too. If you show up to one just for the hell of it I bet it would be good times. (I promise I’m not trying to wheedle an appearance out of you. I live on the west coast anyway.)

    One thing I am really curious about: Which martial arts are you familiar with? I train and freaking love to hear about people’s experiences with martial arts.

    What hooked me into NaNo was the feeling of “Hey, it doesn’t have to be the Most Amazing Thing Ever. Let go of the perfectionism that keeps you from getting anything done and have fun with it!” It was a comment on this blog last year that got me to look it up, and a blog post by Chuck Wendig that made me go “Oh what the hell”.

    Anyone here want to be my writing buddy and talk story craziness? My user name is Ali Mae.

    • bremon
      Posted November 9, 2011 at 2:49 PM | Permalink

      I spend way too much time on the Nanoisms thread. Also Dares.
      I think I’m on page twenty of the Nanoisms now.
      It’s kind of terrible. I read them to my friends. :)

  59. justlikestoread
    Posted November 9, 2011 at 8:13 PM | Permalink

    “The Fuck I Can’t!” Are you going to make size 24 month onesies with that slogan too? That is pretty much the attitude my toddler gives off everyday.

    • passingwind
      Posted November 10, 2011 at 5:25 PM | Permalink

      That is one hell of a great idea! My 2.75 year old seems to have the same attitude as Pat. A 24 monthsie, or 3Tsie, with “The Fuck I Can’t” would be super cool. My wife may not agree though.

  60. Salix
    Posted November 11, 2011 at 11:52 AM | Permalink

    My reaction to this was to clap my hands and squeel… in a very public place. But, really, <3. I've been strongly debating doing NaNoWriMo. My exams and term papers said no, but my word-hungry heart said yes. The argument goes back and forth. And hearing someone else put to words tthe feeling I get every time family or friends tell me I don't have the time…
    Good sir, you just made my day.

  61. Posted November 14, 2011 at 11:06 AM | Permalink

    Good gracious me. You make me want to restart my old profile and join you, even though I’m at the end of my project.

    And I admire your attempt not to buy Skyrim and cross dimensions for four months.

  62. johnw314
    Posted November 21, 2011 at 2:55 PM | Permalink

    I don’t think you are going to make the deadline.

    • johnw314
      Posted November 24, 2011 at 3:10 PM | Permalink

      Even pro-rated for your one-week-late start, it does not look like you are on track to make 38,000 words by the end of the month.

      I guess you are not a real writer?

  63. Sominus
    Posted November 29, 2011 at 10:47 PM | Permalink

    17,757 words to go. You can do it!

    (and even if you can’t it wouldn’t change the fact that you’re my favorite author)

    Still I got faith in you!

  64. Holmelund
    Posted December 1, 2011 at 2:48 PM | Permalink

    You failed Pat.

  65. johnw314
    Posted December 2, 2011 at 8:31 PM | Permalink

    Now we all know that Rothfuss is not a real writer.

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