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Random Thoughts: NaNoWriMo


I should just provide the caveat – before I launch into this post – that this isn’t going to be one of my typical Random Thoughts posts where I pontificate or expound or ramble about a subject that I have thoughts and ideas on in a generic fashion.

While I definitely have thoughts on NaNoWriMo – oh how many thoughts I have – they’re mostly going to be of a personal nature rather than one in which I take an objective look at the month-long event.

So with that in mind….

For those of you who might not know what it is, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an event of sorts where writers – published, fledgling, “aspiring,” best-selling – set a writing goal of 50,000 words and give themselves the month of November (30 days) to achieve that goal. Some writers start a new project, some attempt to finish one that’s been collecting dust – in their minds or on their hard drives. Some just use it to work through a tough scene.

Whatever they choose to write about, the idea is that they give themselves a word count and a deadline and hope that at the end of the month they’ve reached it.

The folks at NaNoWriMo.org have put together a much better explanation on their about page, HERE.

Anyway….

So last year, under a pen name that consisted of the first names of two characters in the story I was going to be working on, I decided to join in the “fun.” I’d initially agreed to participate because a friend of mine wanted a writing buddy. Of course she decided to opt out – notice I didn’t say chicken out – at the last moment, leaving me with the difficult choice of going it alone or quitting.

I decided to take a stab at it. And of course I failed.

I actually did fairly well up until Thanksgiving weekend here in the U.S. – the finish line was in sight, I had approximately thirty-five thousands words on the page. Then everything fell apart. I couldn’t pick things back up after having taken a couple of days off, and I fell so far behind on my word count that I just couldn’t muster up the drive…courage…energy… to push on through.

Whether it was poor time management, poor planning, or just a dip in creativity, I didn’t make it. And my WIP has been collecting dust on my MacBook Air ever since.

This year, with even less confidence than I had last year, I decided to join in again. And I’m terrified. With every day that passes I grow even more nervous about meeting with failure for a second year in a row.

Which is exactly why I decided to post about it here on the blog – well that and as way of explanation as to why things might be a little less active here this month. Because it’s so much easier to walk away when you – and just a few people close to you – know what’s going on versus when you announce something to the world at large.

And I really don’t want to quit before I have barely gotten started. I don’t think I’m that kind of a person.

But boy am I scared. Because I’m not sure whether the voice I have this year is exactly the same as the one I had last year. Which could mean very different things for the project I am working on. Where different equates to bad…horrendously awful…unredeemable.

Thankfully a new idea came to me just the other day, but I’m not sure whether I’m ready to abandon the project I was working on last year before embarking upon something new. But if the direction the story takes isn’t one I’m happy with by the end of the first week, I’ll switch to the new one and hope I have enough time to catch up.

I really don’t want to have another failed year. Oh how I do hate failure, though I am no stranger to it, nor it to me.

While NaNoWriMo isn’t an event that works for everyone – some writers need to be able to write without the pressure of deadlines, word counts or goals – I’m not one of those writers. While creativity only comes when it comes, if I don’t have a firm deadline in place, I won’t accomplish anything. Hence the year-long absence from my WIP.

Because I have so many other things taking my attention away – work, family, friends, blogging, household chores, television. And of course reading. My very favorite distraction of them all. So, writing always ends up on the bottom of that pile. Always.

As an adult I’d never planned on writing again. I figured it was just something I was passionate about in childhood. I’d started creating stories before I could pick up a pencil and I’d continued on through my Junior year in high school, at which point my characters said sayonara and that was that.

But last year, just days before NaNoWriMo was to begin, the introduction to a story popped into my head. Just like that. Out of nowhere. Much like this new story that came to me the other day.

So clearly I’m a pantser – meaning I write by the seat of my pants – and not a plotter. I can’t think far enough ahead in a story – even a short story – to know what happens just moments after the words I put down on the page. So how could I possibly think about how the story will wrap? I can’t.

But I’m hoping that even without the ability to plot I’ll be able to push forward this year and get those 1,667 words down on the page each day. And hopefully they’ll be something more than gibberish.

That remains to be determined.

I am, however, committed to trying to reach my goal this year and achieve that badge that says I am a winner, that I didn’t give up, that my story moved forward to the tune of fifty-thousand words.

It does mean, though, that something has to give. And I can’t quit my job. I can’t ignore my family. I can’t lose the few moments of sleep I get each night. And I can’t live in a slightly less-than-clean home. Which means television – oh how I will miss Damon Salvatore and Oliver Queen – blogging and reading. [Sobs.]

I can’t read stories, typically, while trying to create my own. I can’t spend the four to six hours writing a review when those same hours could be spent meeting word count goals. So, it means that there will be a few less books on my reading pile each week and practically zero reviews on the blog during the month of November and potentially December if my story does take on a life of its own.

I thought long and hard about abstaining from NaNoWriMo this year. I consider myself a reader and blogger more than a writer, and NaNoWriMo takes me away from both of these things that I adore. But I also don’t like to leave things unfinished, like the 100 or so draft posts I have across my various blogs, or the work in progress that has lain dormant for the past eleven months.

And so I’m trying this again. Hoping with everything I have to meet those daily word sprints, but hoping most of all to be able to come up with fifty thousand words that form sentences, that impart information, that provide entertainment, that lead me toward the finish line of my writing project, and that take me from the failure column and put me in the one marked winner.

But what about you?

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo this year? Does writing with word count goals and deadlines help to focus you or does it hamper your progress or your creativity?

If you’re a Wrimo who is also a blogger, does getting lost in your own story prevent you from getting lost in those stories you read? Does it take away your time from blogging, from family, from friends or work or school? Or are you one of those with excellent time management skills and the ability to multi-task or juggle?

And are you one of those rushing to meet your daily word count goals at the end of each night before the clock rolls to the next day? Or do you meet your word count long before sundown and never worry about the clock ticking down?

If you are a participant this year – or any year – I’d love to hear about your NaNoWriMo experience!

8 Responses to “Random Thoughts: NaNoWriMo”

  1. Cindy Thomas says:

    YAY Rachel! I’m rooting for you! I believe you can do it. It really is terrifying, but I’ll be here to cheer you on every step of the way. HUGS!

    • Fiktshun009 says:

      Thank you so much!!! It’s awesome to know that I’m not the only one who thinks it’s terrifying and that I have someone willing to cheer me on. Thank you so, so much!

  2. First I want to say thank you for blogging about this, I have been seeing it all over twitter and had absolutely no idea what it was and I will be honest in that I felt totally left out. And now I don’t, its like I was let in on some big secret!
    Second, I think that it is amazing that you are attempting to do this with all that you have to do.
    I dabble in the world of writing, but I don’t do well with pressure when it comes to my writing, it really seems to damper my inspiration. And I also think you are brave for trying it again, I know I would not have the guts to try it again. I am afraid of failure, which is probably why I don’t do some things I want.

    I wish you all the luck and I hope you reach your goal and can get WP finished!

  3. aliasgirl says:

    Rachel, you are just a great blogger! I loved this post because, well, you have just said exactly what I feel. And I thank you for that.
    I’m participating for the first time in this crazy/masochistic/highly difficult thing called NaNoWriMo. I feel scared. I mean, really scared, like I am just about to fall from the sky, like I am doing something extremely dangerous. My friend the other day told me ‘You gotta be kidding me. You just have to write. No big deal if you can’t do it.’ People around me just think it’s a stupid thing, but then again, they also believe the books I read and my blog are just ‘something to waste my time on’ (thank you).

    I know how you feel and I think you are really brave for trying it again. And I’m sure that you’ll do great. I’m not saying this just to make you feel better, but I really believe it. Your post shows just how much you care about it, how much thought you’ve given to NaNo and this year will be YOUR year. You should be proud of yourself for trying again.

    But please, try not to kill too many characters, won’t you? πŸ™‚

  4. This will be my fifth year participating in NaNoWriMo, I won my first two years and lost miserably the second two. It’s also my first year writing as a real blogger. [I say this because I didn’t really try at all last year…to NaNo, not blog!] With that in my mind I made sure to have most of November’s posts scheduled ahead of time. At least review-wise since those take up the most time for me. And with a few random posts here and there that I need to write it will break up the possible monotony of working solely on my novel. I also lucked out, I’m a college student, and ended up with nothing due this entire month. SCORE!

    I was worried about this NaNoWriMo though because I only had a couple characters, a vague plot, and a desire to cram all of my favorite things [or as many as possible] into a single novel. So far I’m way ahead of the game but my story is only just starting to find itself, I’ve been in the same scene for almost the entire thing at this point, mostly rambling on as I tried to really get a feel for my characters and story. I feel bad for that because it isn’t “real” but without it, I wouldn’t be where I am now…and I like where I think my story is going to go. [Not looking forward to all the editing in my future though!]

    As for reading while I write, it actually helps me. I take away my favorite aspects of what I’m reading and learn how to better approach scenes, dialogue, and my characters. I know it doesn’t work that way for most people. One of my good friends is participating with me this year and is having to completely abstain from books for the entire month. I feel for you guys. And commend you for having the guts to really go for your writing, to want it bad enough that you could give up reading. That’s pretty awesome.

    And I definitely think you can do it and I really hope that your novel will be on the shelves someday because I love reading your blog posts, you have such an awesome personality and it really shines through…I can only imagine what you could do with a whole novel at your disposal. Good luck and happy writing! :]

  5. Kristilyn says:

    I wish you luck, Rachel! I’m participating, too, and just like you I fly by the seat of my pants. I kind of know where I want the story to go and ideas come to me each day, but I don’t have pages and pages of planning to refer to. I also participated last year and got to about 43,000 words and got stuck. I was sad I couldn’t continue, but I’m really hoping that I can stick to it this year!

    Happy writing!!

  6. This is my first year joining NaNoWriMo! Wish us both luck! I actually tried writing a couple of novels last year (not during NaNoWriMo), but I couldn’t even get past the prologue. With NaNoWriMo, at least I was finally writing with the goal πŸ˜‰ I am currently on 7480 words, with my goal being having written 50K words in 30 days. I guess it was going pretty well, and I finally felt like my writing was starting to take off, without being completely amateurish and stupid, not that it was good though, I definitely needed a bigger vocab, since I always found that I couldn’t find words to describe things when I was setting the scene, despite all the reading I do πŸ˜›

    Anyway, hope you could complete NaNoWriMo this year! πŸ™‚

  7. Megan Conway says:

    This is my third year participating after the first two years were successful. At the moment I have 10,000 words. I’m actually aiming for more than 50,000 since my project, in the end, will be about 125,000 word (yeah, I’m crazy) as it’s a general fantasy novel. So far, I’ve mostly stuck with the meagre plot I started with, but a few surprising things have happened, especially last night.

    My advice is, if you have trouble with distractions, set a timer for maybe 15 minutes and commit to writing for that 15 minutes. See how many words you get and the next time try to beat that word count. This has worked wonderfully for me when I’ve hit a sticky spot in the story or have a lot on my mind.

    I wish ye luck πŸ˜‰

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