NaNoWriMo – Do You, Would You, Should You Write A Novel In 30 Days?

I haven’t got a lot of time to write this post, so I apologize if it seems hastily thrown together – but it is.

Today is October 27th.  After weeks and weeks of struggling to start edits to my long neglected 51,000 word “novel” – I may have allowed my romanticized idea of accomplishment get the better of me.  Last night, I committed to participating in National Novel Writing Month – AGAIN.

Much like a bad hangover after a night of college binge drinking, I have spent all of today face-palming myself and asking  repeatedly “What the Hell was I thinking?!”


I have been here before – I have done this before.  I CAN write 50,000 words in 30 days.  No problem there.  Producing the words is really not the issue.

I will admit – I LIKE the challenge.  The competitive side of me feeds off the knowledge that I am in a race against something – and goddamnit, I.  Will. Win.  In this case it’s the calendar coupled with my own typing skills, and the speed at which a story can fall out of my head and end up onto my computer screen that I am running against.  And you all know I love to run, right?

Yes, I LOVE the pressure of a deadline.  This a thrill for me.  The pressure, the suspense of “will she make it to the finish line?  Can she stay the course? Can she really pull this off?  YES SHE CAN!”

And let’s not forget – I NEED the motivation.  I NEED this event to put my fiction writing first in my life – not waiting in the wings where it is forced to reside while things like paying jobs so I can pay the bills take center stage.  Yes, I write.  Everyday, I write – but I write for other people.  I write copy.  I write corporate email blasts.  I write web pages.  I get paid to write cold, hard facts.  But what I want to write all day are the complete and utter imagings that reside in my head – my stories.

Reality is that the pay for my fiction writing attempts is non-existent.  Hence: sidelines.

NaNoWriMo 2011 Winner

So my issue is not that I hate the idea of writing for 30 days straight – my issue is should I really have committed myself to National Novel Writing Month?  And by doing so, am I in fact limiting myself by confining my writing to just these 30 days?

Like I said, I have been here before.  Two years in a row.  I wrote my butt of from the stroke of midnight on November 1st until the last-minute of November 30th.  I entered my final word count into the website.   I downloaded and saved my “WINNER” badge, proudly displaying it as my Facebook profile picture for a few weeks.  My friends, family and colleagues congratulated me on writing a novel and all asked when they could read it. NaNoWriMo 2012 Winner To each and everyone my reply was the same:  “Hahahaha! nope.  I still have to edit and re-write!”  Which was totally true…but more on that in a bit.  And then my novels, all 102,000 words, their combined total word count, sat in my laptop, in a folder marked “WRITING PROJECTS” within another folder called “ME”….which sits right beside the folder on my desktop titled “WORK”.  November was finished.  I had to go back to making money.

And that’s as far as it went.  I mean really – if folders on your laptop could gather dust, the one marked “ME” would be absolutely covered.  “ME” doesn’t get opened, simply because it is not “WORK”.

I can list all the excuses I have given myself over the years for not revisiting my NaNo entries and actually turning them into completed novels.  But I’m not going to.  Chalk it up to time – and priorities.  Okay, mostly priorities.

What I didn’t realize the first two years I entered NaNoWriMo is that it’s called National NOVEL Writing Month….but you’re not actually writing a novel.  Maybe if you are a seasoned Stephen King-esque writer with decades of experience.  Maybe if you’ve got the whole producing a finished story down to a science.  Or if you have done years of prep leading up to November 1st and don’t have to be anywhere for 30 days straight.  Maybe if  you are these things, you will be capable of automatically producing what can be classified as a “finished novel”.

I’m guessing most people participating are not any of the above.  So what you are writing during those 30 days is a DRAFT of your story.  And it is not even the first draft.  This is a sub-draft.  A draft of your first draft.

Actually – and forgive the visual – it’s barf.  I’m talking 50,000 words that have just spewed out of your head, leaked out through your finger tips, and are sprayed all over your computer screen, ( or lined notebook, or cool vintage Corona…whatever your conduit is.)  Let’s face it, 30 days is  not a lot of time to produce your masterpiece.  Especially if have never, ever, done this before.

Yes, as of November 30th, when you’ve typed fifty-thousand-and-first word, and hit the upload button, hey!  Awesome – you’ve done it!!  Your story has finally gotten out of your head and has seen the light of day.

Only, it’s not really complete yet, is it?  In your heart of hearts, you know you are actually far from finished.  This is a skeleton that still needs muscle, tissue and organs…and skin.  In other words, there is still a lot of work to be done.

AND that part is the tricky part.

This is where I am today.  As of November 1st – this is where I will firmly plant myself:  Edits and re-writes.  “Putting meat on those bones”.  (I love that saying!)

You see – I shouldn’t be committing myself to writing yet another draft of yet another story.  So this year I am using the promise of the challenge and pressure of the deadline to re-work and re-write my first pile of barf…..I mean novel.

Writing the Girl - edits to first draft of Her.

I don’t know about you, but when I put something “out there” – announce it to the world like I am here, it’s a pretty sure bet that I will remain beholden to my task until it is complete.

I have been grumbling, moaning and posting about my edits and re-writes here and there for the past few weeks.  Well – let’s just say shit is about to get real.

I know I will not finish what I need to before November 30th.  My word count will be nowhere near 50,000.  You know what?  I’ll be okay with not having a 2015 Winner badge to boastfully display.  This is me getting over myself.

Well….I kinda have a goal of re-writes to at least 10 chapters come November 30th, but we’ll see.

My decision has been made:  Completing this novel, and the one I wrote in 2012, have to be brought out of the wings.   Screw my excuses.  Not having enough time is a myth.  Bills will always need to be paid.  There will never be a “right time” or a rainy day.

Where your heart is

So for the next year, I will go through this process – the edits, the re-writes, the drafts, the revisions…and then….hopefully…..

The Publishing.  The Accomplished Author.

The Girl Who Wrote Her Stories Until They Were Actually Done.

Check back with me on Sunday….see how much of my hair I have already pulled out.

Should you, would you, do you join in on this writing-insanity?  This month-long obsession?  This 30 day juggernaut of writing with abandon?

Despite everything I have said here, if you are an aspiring writer, National Novel Writing Month is definitely worth it.  Test the waters, see if you like them.  See how far you, and your story, get…..blank page. Start writing!

And to all of my fellow WriMo’s:  Good luck and Happy Writing!

-Janice D 🙂

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