Did You NaNoWriMo?

December 4, 2012 // Writing

Did you NaNoWriMo*? If so, then for about three days, you’ve had 50,000 words, give or take, of your novel to be. Congrats, and how do you feel?

If not, what held you back?

Maybe you’re not a writer, maybe you don’t buy into the concept, maybe you find November to be a terrible month to sequester yourself and write.

Me? I did my “own” NaNoWriMo in January 2012. I call it “my own” because I did it “off season,” so to speak. Doing NaNoWriMo was one of my resolutions for 2012 (I was disappointed I hadn’t tried that past November), and I was motivated to check that resolution off the list early.

January is a great month to shut yourself in and write, especially when you live in a wintry town like Pittsburgh: it’s cold, it gets dark early, and you’ve spent yourself silly with the holidays and don’t really feel like spending any more.

That experience with NaNoWriMo was a breeze, I thought. I had no problem getting those 1,667 words down each day.  At first. And then I entered the “I don’t care anymore” phase and didn’t write for about a week. Then I sat back down in the chair and I met my word count by the end of the month.

In the end, I had what would pass for a novella. It had a story arc, it had characters and setting and dialogue and something a little weird going on that I could appreciate.

But I never want another living soul to see it.

Truth be told, I haven’t even been able to bring myself to reread it, to work with it. I truly embraced the “first drafts are crap” school of thought to keep myself going. And boy is it ever. I told my husband that, if anything should happen to me, he is to burn it. I couldn’t bear to think that anyone who knew I’d ever considered writing might think that was my lifelong story just waiting to break out.

I started off thinking I was writing one story, morphed into another, and let the story take me on its ride, just like the NaNoWriMo reading I’d done said it would. It was fun; it was also hell, and what I have to show for it I’m not even sure, but I did it.

So cut to November 2012 and the official NaNoWriMo month. I could only remember the bad of the first attempt—the mental blocks, the trudging, the making myself do it when I wanted to do something else. But this time I had a story in mind, so I was going to join in and enjoy the community aspect of NaNoWriMo—all the online posts and tips publishing sites offer during the month. I even registered on the website, and for two whole days I logged in my word counts.

And I never got any farther.

It was harder this time somehow. It took me much longer to write the required 1,667 words. And I liked the protagonist I was working with, and the setting, and the premise. I knew where it was going, but still, I walked away and never felt a moment’s regret.

So that was my NaNoWriMo experience for the year. What was yours? Did you do it? What pushed you on? Did you just think about it? What stopped you?


*National Novel Writing Month, if you don’t already know.

About the author

Amy says, "Wait a minute, I want to finish this chapter."

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