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National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is November. During that month, thousands of writers, published and aspiring alike, join together in one goal: to write a 50,000 word novel in 31 days. While I have never participated before, I know people who have, and it looks like a blast. I definitely want to give it a try this year. But who says I have to wait until November?

In late 2008, a story idea that had been bouncing around in my head finally demanded to be told. It convinced me to set aside a novel I had previously been working on so I could devote my attention to bringing this new story to life. Four years later, I am in its 7th rewrite, and things just aren’t working how I see them. I just don’t have the experience to do it justice.


Due to several sources but in large part to Brandon Sanderson‘s comments in interviews/blog posts/etc, I have come to accept that setting the story aside for a while does not necessarily mean its death. This is a hard concept for me, as I am still captivated by what sparked this book and kept me passionate about it for the last 4 years.

This is what Brandon Sanderson did: he wrote his book The Way of Kings, realized it wasn’t right, then set it aside to write some other books. Then he returned to it, applied the experience he had gained in his other projects, and did it wonderful justice. The Way of Kings is one of my favorite epic fantasy books. During a lecture I watched of him, he told his students to set aside whatever project they were working on previous to the class and write something new. You can watch it here for his reasons. It was the push that gave me courage to do it.

So I did it. I set it aside to work on my writing craft. To work on my writing, I realized I needed to create:

  • A regular writing habit
  • A concrete writing goal

So with those two goals and my decision to try NaNoWriMo, I decided to write a 50,000 word novel in a month. Except November was 6 months away, and I didn’t want to wait that long. All right, I thought. I’ll do one in May. No one ever said you couldn’t write a book in any other month but November.

So I started that very day. It was the 5th of May. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t November. It didn’t even matter that it wasn’t the beginning of the month. It wasn’t really NaNoWriMo anyways–it was SpoNoWriMo!

Spontaneous Novel Writing Month.


Have you ever had to set aside a project to go get some more experience? If you did, did you return to the original project? How did it turn out?