Monday, November 7, 2016

7 Days, 17,000 Words and no sign of a story yet...

It's been a while since I've done it, signed up for NaNoWriMo (for non-NaNo-ers, NaNoWriMo is short of National Novel Writing Month.  Every year hundreds of thousands of would-be novelists pledge to write a 50,000 novel during the month of November.) I wrote my first published book Thin Space during a previous NaNoWriMo and I am a big fan of the challenge. 

There's something inspiring about tapping out a story while hundreds of thousands of other writers are tapping out their stories, laboring in coffee shops or stealing words during lunch hours, waking at the crack of dawn to scrawl out a chapter by hand or typing bleary-eyed on their laptops well into the night. 

I'm also pretty realistic about what a writer can actually accomplish during a thirty-day period. A polished book ready for submission by December 1st?

Um, no. Not even close. 

But if you'd like to end up with a messy, meander-y drafty first draft, something that's ready to be broken into pieces and reworked over the next many months...

NaNo might be the gig for you.

End of October this year, I did a bit of pre-planning, opening up a calendar and calculating my target word count. (note: If you write every day for thirty days, you'll have to write 1667 words per day to end up with the desired 50,000.) I know going into it I won't be able to write for all 30 days. Thanksgiving's coming up (must say here that the NaNo creators really dropped the ball when they chose November, but I digress) Take away Thanksgiving and the days surrounding it, and I'll be lucky to write 21 days.

My target word count: a hefty 2381 words per day.

Bring it!

Day One. I am up early, raring to go. No social media until I get my words down for the day. No talking on the phone. No cleaning. No nothing except writing. I know my tendency to procrastinate and I am not going to fall into that trap-- not on Day One, damn it!

I have a rough idea of what I'm writing. Several potentially interesting characters. A setting. One very bizarre plot point.

Do I have an actual story arc?


I write 2721 words and I'm finished by 11:30. Boo yah.

Day Two. Up and at'em. Still have no idea where this thing is going, but I am trusting the process, jumping off the cliff without a net, driving my car into the fog at night, dunking my head into the dark pool--

by which I mean I have no idea what the hell I am writing.

Noon, I hit 2592 words.

Day Three. Why am I writing this story again? I can't remember.

2700 uninspiring words.

Day Four. This is hard. HAAAAAAARRRRRRRRD. Plus it's Friday. It's nice outside. My daughter's home from her semester abroad and wants to go to a movie with me. I want to go to a movie with her. This story I'm writing is stupid anyway.

Somehow I pull 2751 words out of the recesses of my brain lobes by 1:00 and we're off to a movie. Go, Me!

Day-- What day is it? Five? Yes. Day Five. Saturday. I'm signed up to canvas for the upcoming election. Do I really want to write today? answer: no.

Should I write?

answer: eh, ok

I knock the heck out of 31 doors in my town, head home and scrounge out 2665 words. Take that, Donald Trump.

Day Six. I'm signed up to canvas again and it's going to take most of the day. On the plus side, it's Fall Back, so I get an extra hour. On the minus side, I use the extra hour to fret on social media about the election.

I squeak out 1649 words. None of them are good ones.

Day Seven: It occurs to me that I have reached 15,000+ words and I still don't know what my story is about. For the past week I've churned, labored over, played with, banged out, lovingly pondered and still,

I don't know what I am writing. I don't know where it's going. I don't know why I'm bothering.

This is the point where most people throw in the towel. But weirdly, I have never been one of those people. It takes me nearly all day but thirty minutes ago, I ended my writing session up 2656 words.

There's a story in here somewhere--

maybe what it is will hit me... tomorrow.


  1. Every November, I always seem to be revising, and at the wrong point to start a new first draft. (This year is no different.)
    But then again, I spend most of every year revising ...
    More power to you!

    1. Jenn-- just got an edit letter, so putting this new draft aside for the moment :)

  2. Keep going! It's all about the process, right? I am revising this year, so Nano for me, but I'll be cheering people one. :)

  3. Good news on the "Edit" letter. Now it's time to dig into the edit AND find the story hiding in your NANOWRIMO challenge.

    1. Thanks, Shari! I am heading back into my Nano project now :)