Monday, November 8, 2010

To NaNoWriMo or Not? That Is the Question.

This is the first year that I’ve done NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month. For those who don’t know what that is (and I’m betting most, if not all of you, know more about it than I do) it means that you sign on at and vow to write 50,000 new words on a new manuscript. You cannot start until November 1 and you must end on November 30.

I almost didn’t do it. I’d just spent a whirlwind Halloween weekend going trick-or-treating twice, being in a Halloween parade and sewing a Saint costume for my child to wear in the All-Saints Day service. So, the last thing I wanted to do as I sat in the recliner at 11 PM on Sunday night, gasping for air and zoning out on the Real Housewives, was add another thing on my to-do list.

But, as I scanned my emails, I thought of NaNoWriMo. I’d been talking to the Rockville 8 about it, what exactly you do for it, etc. at our last meeting. Now, I was feeling guilty. I’d told myself that I’d do it. I’d promised myself I’d widen my horizons this year by trying it. Yet, at the moment, I was sitting in my recliner like an exhausted, used-up lump.

That’s when it hit me. I’m exhausted all the time anyway. I’m always used up. I’m always too busy. So, if I’m going to be all those things I may as well add one on the heap for myself. So, I logged onto the website and joined. As I did it, I questioned my own sanity. But I guess there are others who have questioned theirs as they added their names to the list.

It was also exhilarating. I was finally a part of something I’d heard others talk about. As of Sunday, November 7, I have 7,179 words. I should be at 11,669 words if you figure the 1,667 word a day pace. So, I’ve got some catching up to do. By my own reckoning I need to do 1,947 words each day from here on out to make it. So far, I’ve done an average of 1,026 words each day. This includes the day that I spent all day at my child’s competition. The day I had a deadline at work and dragged myself home. The day the traffic was horrendous on the way home. The day I had a headache and thought my head would explode. I’ve literally done something each day. Even on the hardest days.

Here’s the secret I’ve discovered. I may have started out exhausted when I was writing but many times I forgot my fatigue and stress by the end of my words. My husband has been supportive. My child played nicely with various toys. The dog sleeps on her rug under my desk and warms my feet. They’ve all pitched in and done their part.

And, when it didn’t get easier as I wrote, when it felt like pulling teeth, I still did it. It may not have been pretty but something made it to the page.

Last night, after all day at my child’s event, I felt like I’d been sucked dry. I really, really didn’t feel like it. So, I gave myself a carrot and wrote an exciting scene that I’d brainstormed just that morning. When I looked up, I’d written about 1,400 words. It felt effortless.

There’s another thing whispering in the background. The Rockville 8 goals for 2010. I seem to remember something about having a complete rough draft of a new book by August 2010. Did I really say that? Can I make it at least by the end of 2010 with the help of NaNo?

So, maybe I won’t make 1,947 words per day. Maybe I’ll only get 30,000 words for this month. But, then I say “only 30,000 words” and laugh. That would be a really good thing because it would be 30,000 I might not have had.

Tell me about your NaNo war experiences. What worked? What didn’t? Any advice?

So, this post is 692 words. Can I count this toward my daily NaNo goal?


  1. Alas, your post wordcount doesn't earn you NaNo points, but it's a great post all the same!

    This is the first year I've been hooked into a community doing NaNo. It's been amazing to see the encouragement and singlemindedness to just get the words on the page. I'd say always do it with a group!

    And as one of your crit partners, Lisa, I can't wait to see what you've come up with!

  2. Thanks, Nichole! I was afraid that you'd say that about the word count. It was worth a try, right?

    It has been great to have other people doing it with you. That goes for those of us in our group and for those people doing it world-wide. There truly is strength in numbers.

  3. Lisa - again, you are so inspiring! I just wrote something for a NaNo loop I'm on that I think kind of dovetails with your message. The fact that you've written through rain, sleet and snow (metaphorically) and felt afterward like you were on a sunny beach with a pretty drink (okay, so I'm projecting that part...) is kind of what I was trying to say in my loop email. NaNo is about "doing" the writing. Not about feeling like you "should" write. The joy that comes from a session at the keyboard is thrilling. And you've been choosing to write rather than feeling guilty about not writing or letting guilt force you into a writing grudge match. Yay! Well done! (and as I said...inspiring!)

  4. Here we are, almost halfway through November! Hope your NaNo-ing is still going well, Lisa! Mine got hijacked by a New Idea and I've been working with that instead of racking up the word count. Just one of the many benefits of trying NaNo!!!