It’s November and that means it’s NANOWRIMO. To celebrate my first Nanowrimo novel, Zero Repeat Forever being on the way to publication by Simon & Schuster I’m featuring many published or soon-to-be-published Nanowrimo novels over the month of November, as well as some old posts I wrote during my first Nanowrirmo in 2011.
On Writing Your Heart Out (and Winning NaNoWriMo)
I’ve been joining in on the NaNoWriMo challenge since 2007, and I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t a lot of work. Writing a draft of an entire novel in a month involves cooking meals ahead of time, making deals with my family, and then the hardest part—sitting down every single day for a month and actually doing the work.
But in this post I’d like to tell you about a time I took part in NaNoWriMo that—strangely–wasn’t so difficult. My dad has suddenly and shockingly passed away that spring. I had also suffered several other tragedies in my life, including a painful miscarriage and my husband’s place of business burning down. It was an awful year, really, and any sane person would’ve probably decided, hey, maybe this isn’t the best year to attempt writing an entire novel in thirty days.
But I’m not just any sane person. I took on the challenge, armed with very little idea of what I was going to write, and no idea how I’d motivate myself to follow through. On November 1st, I took my laptop into the one room in our basement where I wouldn’t be disturbed and I wrote. Like I said, I didn’t have much idea of what to write, so I just started with a couple of characters and asked myself what would be fun for them to do. What kind of characters would I love to read about?
The first difference between this year and previous years of attempting NaNo, was that this particular year, I really felt little hope that what I would come out with on the end would be a publishable novel. I really was just doing it to keep writing, to give myself a break from the day-to-day painful emotions I was feeling, and instead lose myself in the characters’ lives I was writing.
It worked in a way that I was not at all expecting! By the end of the first week, I actually looked forward to retreating into my basement and escaping into my story. I was letting the characters flirt and kiss and uncover exciting mysteries in their lives. I was having fun during a time in my life that had very little fun going on in it.
In the end, this ended up being my longest book (92,000 words in thirty days), and also my favorite book. I love the characters and the scenarios they got themselves into, and yes, it needed a lot of revision when the month of November was over, however the bones and the passion and guts of the story were undoubtedly there.
So I’d encourage you…if you’re writing through NaNoWriMo this year and are thinking of giving up, or thinking this might not be the best year to focus on a lofty goal…try it anyway. Put aside a little time for yourself. Let go of your publishing expectations for this year’s writing, and just write what’s in your heart. It may be cathartic for you, like it was for me, and you may end up on the other side with your best writing yet!
I am, or have been, everything from a professional Polynesian dancer and fitness and strength competitor to a mushroom farmer and church secretary.Most of my time now is spent homeschooling or playing with our eleven-year-old son or in front of my computer writing. I’ve been writing for about twelve years. I’ve published fiction for teens and nonfiction for writers, as well as short stories and articles for magazines.My pet peeves include clutter (somebody please tell my husband this!), wet socks, and being cold (which is a common occurrence in B.C.!)
I LOVE meeting writers and readers of any kind. If you’ve found yourself at my website, please stop by my contact page and drop me a note to say hello.