novels / writing

NaNoWriMo Begins in Less Than 2 Weeks

My feelings about making the decision to participate in NaNoWriMo this year—for the first time ever—vacillate between dazed shock, giddy excitement, and of course my signature bucketloads of doubt. I wouldn’t be me if not for that. Still, unless something happens to make it impossible for me to keep writing through to the end of November (which, I suppose, is possible, if the pitches I’m sending out next week turn into something, but if they do, and I hope they do, I also hope they will wait for me to begin December 1) then I’m doing this.

I think I’ve picked the novel. If this is the one, the genre is YA. (Ages 14+) I write about teenagers so often; I might as well stand up and embrace it.

That’s all I’ll say for now. Talking about a work-in-progress doesn’t help me, until I have a flood of words on the page. For some reason, my ideas tend to oxidize when they hit open air and other people hear them. (See: doubt.) I’ll get a little closer—get myself at least a puddle of something—and then I can talk about it.


I’ll be honest: I never thought I’d sign up for this. But I love me a solid deadline, so that’s why I’m all about it this year.

Writing a novel in a month sounds impossible, sure. But I’m thinking of it as rough pages, a start. The two literary fiction manuscripts took me years to write. The first, on and off, in various forms, took me five years, then I abandoned it, though a few of my published stories were once chapters in that novel. The second, I think three years, on and off, more off than on I will fully admit. I revised it drastically in four weeks but that was 24/7 at a colony where they fed me, brought me towels and sheets, and even delivered lunch and a thermos of coffee in a picnic basket—far from the circumstances I’m dealing with now. Besides, that manuscript took much longer than four weeks to write from scratch. And, so far, just one published story has come from all that.

But the three YA (really tween? is 12+ tween?) novels took much less time to write. Two months or less. The third, and last, was written start to finish in five weeks. All while I was working full-time. And yes, this was an exhausting process, it was painful, it was dreadful at times, but other times it was really great. I just checked the word count on that first draft: 49,041. But, again, that was five weeks.

Can I do this? 59 more words and one less week? [EDIT: uhhhh, 959 more words. Can I do this? I can’t even do math!]

I feel: Shocked. Excited. And filled with doubt. I guess that’s to be expected.

15 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Begins in Less Than 2 Weeks

  1. I’ve done NaNo four times so far, and I’ve only “won” once — the key that time was entertaining myself, above all other things. I think that can be a really big challenge for a writer — so much so, in fact, that I haven’t managed to do it since. But I always leave the month with great material, and that definitely takes a lot of the weight off of the win/lose thing.

    So yes, all to be totally expected…and you can definitely do this!

  2. Nova–you’ll do terrific! I’ve done NaNoWriMo once before, and did not “win” but I did get a short story out of it, and the discovery that NaNoWriMo doesn’t mesh with my writing process. Invaluable! And I think it’s awesome that you are writing to a deadline, and mostly, filled with EXCITEMENT about an impending project.

    I think that’s the great thing about NaNoWriMo–that it becomes a collective movement (you’re not the only one writing a novel), and that the mindset shifts, and time is carved out, and writing becomes a priority.

    Go go go! I’ll be cheering you on as I finish my thesis in November.🙂

  3. Have fun. The stress is great. I have done it three times, and am signed up again this year. Won the first time, sorta. (Some to the plot lines were still loose at the end of 50,000 words.) Second try taught me two lessons: 1. Do not spend too much time playing in the forums, and 2. DO NOT edit as you go. That is unbearably important, or you will never get 1650 a day.

  4. Ooh, good luck! I joined this year, too—ack. That’s all I can articulate, and far less eloquently than your post. Ack!

  5. I am so excited that you’re playing! My idea that I was going to use is rapidly turning to crap. But you know what? 30 Days of Crap, here I come!one!!!!eleven!

  6. Pingback: NaNo:: In Fact… « distraction no. 99

  7. Woo! I too just decided what project I’m going to work on—my silly MFA thesis. I’m going to ignore what had been written and just go with the basic premise. Go, you and me and all NaNoWriMo(Fo)s! (Hee, I always laugh when I see that clumsy acronym.)

  8. I did it 2 years ago and I went up to the 50,000w mark (yet the novel still stand unfinished in my drawer). But the main thing is that I proved myself I could do it. Words kept pouring out from I don’t know where, sometimes pretty stupid sometimes surprisingly good. And b.elle is right: forget all about editing for 30 days. Have fun!

  9. I’ve also signed up… I have my general idea, but no specifics. Aaack. There is no way I can have things planned in detail in the next 10 days. Aaack again.

  10. Ooh, you can totally do this!! I love the NanoWriMo fever. I’m never brave enough to sign up for it but I always feel like one of those hockey moms, sitting in the stands with Tim Horton’s coffee being like, YES, YES YOU CAN DO IT!! at all the players excitedly.

  11. I’ve signed up this year as well – after standing on the sidelines in past years, I finally gathered up enough courage to do it. I wish you luck Nova – i’m sure whether YA or litfic, you’ll do well.

  12. It’s my first NaNoWriMo ever too and every person I come across who’se done it before says more or less the same thing: that you’re probably better off not having too rigid an outline or even no outline at all and just go with stream of consciousness.

    I tend to be a wee bit of a perfectionist and eveyrone keeps repeating to me “It’s SUPPOSED to be bad! Don’t try to make it good!”. I think the idea being that you’re meant to just enjoy writing for the heck of it and not worry about the result. It’s great advice for a novice but I’d say it’s even better advice for a veteran writer because of course then you have an expectation of coming up with the next great novel.

    Relax! Let your hair down! Don’t fear bad writing! Bad writing can be fun and it can also bring you to places you wouldn’t have thought of before.

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