NaNoWriMo minus the novel


Whenever November 1st comes around, I think of NaNoWriMo. You may think it odd, but once committed to a month of writing nearly 1800 words each day, expecting to complete a novel, you remember. If you’re unfamiliar with NaNoWriMo, it’s National November Writing Month. The goal in participating is that participants complete a novel in 30 days.

I’m not writing a novel this time, but I’ve spent the better part of the last three years working on one I began the last time I participated. I’ve fallen out of practice writing casually, so I’m hoping that if I commit to 30 days of writing for the sake of writing, I’ll find my rhythm once more.

I’ll write. I’ll sit down, make the commitment, and write. If I’m organized, then I’ll have a plan about what to write. If not, then I’ll fit into the “by the seat of my pants” category. That’s not an awful place to be until it’s time to revise and then “nightmare” is a more fitting description of the predicament I’ll find myself in. Still, I believe strongly in simply putting words to page. The exercise is always interesting, and often helps uncover ideas that otherwise may remain buried. Ideas that may or may not want surface area attention. Like disturbing current day events.

Times are distracting, and it’s difficult to avoid the lure of angry opinions, or baiting from people once cared for who seem no longer to have anything in common with me. Disturbing, indeed.

Yet there is much to divert because life is diverting on most days if I allow it. It includes what’s “over the wall,” when one’s home seems to be planted on a postage stamp, and the Suburbiana it’s a part of. It includes people watching and listening, caring or no longer caring. Learning. Aging. Existing in places long outgrown, or never belonged to begin with.

NaNoWriMo is a perfect outlet. If you’re interested, and even if you’re not, I’ll write here every other day beginning today, alternating with sass & veracity, my alter ego. Food may or may not be involved. Travel may.

And for what it’s worth, beyond this haphazard post, I plan to be thoughtful.

Promises, promises.

Day One.










4 responses to “NaNoWriMo minus the novel”

  1. If you need a reader at some point to help during the nightmare portion, I might be able to help.
    I HEAR YOU on the distracting part; a lot of us have been discussing in children’s lit circles how HARD this last year and a half has been, because the noise level has just gotten louder and Louder and LOUDER and it’s so hard to turn it down, to push it away, and listen and channel our own internal voices…

    1. It’s always good to hear from you T. And thank you for your gracious offer of help. At this point, I’ve had an editor read and critique the entire manuscript. It’s marked up and waiting for me to decide on the how of it all. How to manage what could amount to a complete rewrite if I give in to self-doubt. I did quite a bit of thinking about how I might proceed and believe the thing stopping me is this: if I spend tons of time organizing, then I’m not “doing.” But if I launch into it without an organizational plan, will I regret that later? If anything, perhaps explaining how you go about your final revision would help. I would be honored if you offered even a nugget of a suggestion. I’d like nothing more than to lose myself in that fictional world I created. I learned it was an effective barrier to whatever it was I wanted to escape.

  2. Since I’ve *just* gone through this, I very much feel your pain! I waver between being a seat-of-my-pantser and a plotter. When I get finished and get editorial notes, I often have to put a manuscript away for a little while before I can start, because it all gets overwhelming very quickly. One good thing for me is that my editor is very organized, so she kind of says, “over all theme, I want you to bring out THIS, and then in specific scenes, I’d like to see THIS,” and I then have a pretty clear idea in front of me what she wants — and then I have to determine how organically I can meld what I think needs to be there with what she wants. Now, I *don’t* organize my revision, too much, though — because my besetting sin is research. I could spend six months on Google, fiddling with the “how” and various details of what the haft of the axe used in the 18th century miner’s camp was called, and never actually get anything done, and that’s problematic. Research can be a great escape, too! But, I keep reminding myself of the one person to whom I want to tell the story — and for them, I can get out of my own head, and TELL THEM. I lavish detail and work hard on theme and try to slip in subtle transitions between my will and the editor’s will, and make it all hang together. It takes time, but I have learned that just beginning and setting a timer for twenty minutes makes ALLLLLL the difference. Just twenty minutes a day, and you can revise an entire manuscript in three months.

    Mind you, once you get started, it’ll be more than twenty minutes.
    And, I advise you do it before you blog… because for me, blogging is also a creative endeavor, indeed, complete with figuring out where you want the pictures… and it sometimes can slow one’s momentum.

    I’m so intrigued by your book! I didn’t realize it was fictional… I thought you’d written maybe a travel book, since your photography is so amazing, but now I’m dying to read this!!

    1. This is SO helpful. Thank you. I completely understand your point about researching. I get caught up in it excusing myself with “well, it’s backstory I *may* need to use. You know, for the next book.” Pfft. The “one person to whom I want to tell the story” is something that needs to be stamped where I can see it at all times. Perfect. As for the editor’s will, thankfully, mine was paid for and I have no commitment to her. It was something I wanted to do — get feedback from someone I didn’t know, who had published fiction so understood the process. I’ll try the timer. Twenty minutes will definitely stretch to more than an hour. I’ll have to tie myself to my chair!

      A friend challenged me to join him in NaNoWriMo several years ago and we had quite a bit of fun writing and chatting over the course of the month. I only wrote half of what my book now is — a hefty 500+ pages. Contemporary fiction, upmarket, escape reading. I essentially wrote the book I wanted to read (thanks to Toni Morrison for that advice).

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