To NaNo or Not To NaNo

From YA Highway:

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway's contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question to write about on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody's unique take on the topic.

This week's topic: Are you doing NaNoWriMo, or have you ever? Does having a deadline inspire you?

To NaNo or not to NaNo - that is the question.

I first participated in (and won) NaNoWriMo in 2009.  I had a broken foot and some extra time on my hands and it seemed like a good idea. The result is one of my greatest accomplishments.  What began as a “craptastic” novel full of plot holes is now CLOUD 9, a manuscript which, after two years of hard work, is vastly improved.

Here is a recap of that month in facebook status updates:

October 26, 2009 via mobile
Going to sign up for NaNoWriMo and write a craptastic 50,0000-word novel during the month of November.

November 1, 2009
Day One of National Novel Writing Month: I have no title, a rough idea of a plot, some decent characters, and 1,706 words! A great start!

November 2, 2009
feel like I’m back in graduate school. Day Two of NaNoWriMo: 3490 words (12 1/2 pages), still no title, most of my main characters have made an appearance, and the plot has thickened.

November 3, 2009
Daily NaNo update: The school board election had a larger turnout than expected, but I was able to get in a fair amount of writing on the old '99 Compaq Presario laptop. Still no title, 5499 words (on a goal of 5001), and I'm getting into the groove!

November 4, 2009 via mobile
6,705 words. Still on track.

November 5, 2009 via mobile
Note to self: do not watch The Office, Parks & Rec, 30 Rock, and Modern Family while writing. 600 words short of goal. Maybe I'll get some writing time during my trip to Fairmont tomorrow.

November 6, 2009 via mobile
just hit 10,000 words and still going strong!

November 7, 2009 via mobile
terrific start on this novel! It's got too many characters, holes in the plot, and a lot of potential. I can't wait to revise in December.

November 10, 2009
Superior, they say, never gives up her dead when the gales of November come early.
November 11, 2009 via mobile
behind on word count, thanks to the Biggest Loser.  Lots of catch-up to do tonight.

November 11, 2009 via mobile
SHAZAM! Tonight's goal was to hit a total word count of 18,337 words. My total: 18,362 words -- 68 pages of prose that are just begging for revision.

November 12, 2009 via mobile
listened to Coldplay Parachutes on the drive to Mankato. It was like the year 2000. And it was all yellow.

November 15, 2009 via mobile
Have somehow made the half-way mark of this novel: 25,023 words or 92 pages. It's taken an unexpected but welcome turn.

November 17, 2009
"To guarantee success, act as if it were impossible to fail." - Dorothea Brande

November 17, 2009 via mobile
Break out the bubbly! Dick Jauron fired!!
(okay, completely unrelated but I had to include it - Go Bills!)

November 21, 2009 via mobile
thankful for my laptop, even though it weighs about 20 pounds and has caused neck and shoulder strain. 35,000 words down and on track to wrap this baby up by November 28th.

November 22, 2009 via mobile
in a writing frenzy at Caribou listening to... you guessed it, Coldplay.

November 22, 2009 via mobile
Tonight's stats: 43,179 words (158 pages) of potentially award-winning young adult fiction.

November 24, 2009 via mobile
It's just your 19th nervous breakdown.

November 25, 2009 via mobile
rock. 47,027 words.

November 25, 2009
Right now -- hey, it's your tomorrow: I just verified the word count of my novel. 51,504 words, 189 pages. Title: Look How They Shine. Now to take a couple of days off before the real work begins in December -- Revision.

Okay.  That was so  much fun, let’s do it again for 2010.

October 25, 2010
One week! Who's with me?

October 29, 2010 via Facebook® for HP webOS
"Decide what to be and go be it."

October 31, 2010 via Facebook® for HP webOS
I have only a few more hours to get my life together before NaNo starts!

November 1, 2010
This has been a long day. It's almost ten o'clock and I'm just now preparing to start this year's NaNo. 2,000 words seems excessive. Who needs sleep?

November 5, 2010
Caught up: 10,229 words. It's starting to take shape.
November 6, 2010
at an undisclosed Caribou location, writing, and there are other writerly-types here discussing story arcs and characterization. I love it.

November 8, 2010 via Facebook® for HP webOS
thinking about the last time Wade Phillips got fired. That was a good day.
(also unrelated. I love football - Go Bills!)

November 14, 2010
28,007 words and the house is fairly clean, too. So tired.

November 18, 2010 via Facebook® for HP webOS
33 1/3 K. I'm at the point where I'm consumed by my characters. I love it.

November 19, 2010 via Facebook® for HP webOS
Wrote like crazy to get caught up. 36,004 words and a 3-day weekend ahead of me. The book is a chaotic mess and needs a lot of repair, but that's what December is for.

November 20, 2010
40,187 words of craptastic young adult prose! It's got a good beat and I can dance to it.

November 21, 2010
45,114 words. Shazam.

November 22, 2010 via Facebook® for HP webOS
Treating myself: a day off to work the book fair at Jude's school, a Ho Ho Mint Mocha, and hopefully some time to write.

November 22, 2010 via Facebook® for HP webOS
I'm appalled at the amount of theft and swindle I encountered at the elementary school book fair today. BUSTED!

November 24, 2010
48,016 words and the night is still young. I just need another cup of coffee. Pretty sure I can wrap this thing up tonight.

November 25, 2010
50,110 words. It is done. Or not.

I wasn't able to make the commitment last year -- and I'm thankful that I didn't.  November was a nightmare.  But what about this year?  I've been telling myself (and Hammer Guy) that I don't think I'll participate, but you know what?  After seeing these status updates and remembering how great it felt to achieve such an awesome goal, I'm  inclined to do it.  I'm much more connected to other writers around the world who are going to participate and would have a strong support system.  Nothing brings out the cheerleaders in your life like a month-long challenge to write an entire book.

At the end of NaNo 2010, an email from Dave Eggers landed in my inbox:
Why I love NaNoWriMo: It gets you started. It gives you the impetus to finally start, and/or finally finish. Knowing there are thousands of others out there trying to do the same, who are using this ridiculous deadline as cattle-prod and shame deterrent, means goddamnit, you better do it now because you know how to write, and you have fingers, and you have this one life, and during this one life, you should put your words down, and make your voice heard, and then let others hear your voice. And the only way any of that's going to happen is if you actually do it. People can't read the thoughts in your head. They can only read the thoughts you put down, carefully and with great love, on the page. So you have to do it, goddamnit. You have to do it, and you can step back and be happy. You can step back and relax. You can step back and feel something like pride. Then of course you'll have to revise it ten or twenty times, but let's not talk about that yet. Write your goddamned book now. The world awaits. D
If you'd like to connect with me on NaNo, my username is JRMinnt.

How about you, dear writers?  Will you join me? Will you make your voice heard?


  1. Woo go for it! =D It's an experience to share with others as well and keep motivated by your friends as well as that 50K target and deadline.

    1. This will be the first year I've had writing buddies - most of my encouragement in the past has come from family and friends. I'm excited!

  2. Love that you kept daily notes! I think this is the first year I've decided early to not do NaNo, normally I waffle until about Nov 1. Good luck with your first draft!

    1. Thanks - one of the great things about posting updates is that I got a lot of responses and encouragement to keep going!

  3. Yay! Glad you're joining in again. I added you as a Writer Buddy. :) At this point I'm planning on finishing what I started last year, but there is some serious temptation to start that YA Historical/Time Travel I told you about. Gah! Probably shouldn't, though. :)

    I think there's nothing like motivation and accountability that you find by participating in something like this with others. Even if you aren't aiming for 50,000 words or starting something fresh, I think there's value in it. Looking forward to cheering you on!

    1. Yeah, we are going to rock this. I think you should go with the time travel thing.... :)

  4. Ha Ha the facebook statuses cracked me up. Good luck with NaNo. :D

  5. Great post! Love the facebook updates - makes me really, really want to do it so I can have my own NaNo statuses!

    1. I always looked forward to the words of encouragement the updates brought me. :)

  6. Good luck with NaNo! My first one was in '09 as well and this is the first time I'm going to give it my all since then (I've tried participating the last couple of years, but haven't made it very far either time).

    1. Good luck! It will be so great to have so many cheerleaders, won't it? :)

  7. This cracked me up and has inspired me to definitely join! Thank you, JRMinnt!

    p.s. LOVE "It has a good beat and you can dance to it." Were you by chance watching my favorite movie, Back to the Future? :)

    1. I DO love Back to the Future. :) Glad you've joined!

  8. Loved this breakdown of your NaNo experiences. Definitely shows the ups and downs of it and how crazy it can get. I can see how tracking your daily progress would be good for the motivation. Might have to try that.

    1. It's fun to post updates and get encouragement from people. And non-writers are always super impressed. :)

  9. LOL This totally makes me want to go back and read my tweets from past NaNo's. I'm sure I sounded like I was off my rocker.

  10. So funny! I remember the delirious joy and exhaustion, and yes, I NEED to do Nano. We can be cheer buds.

    1. Delirious joy and exhaustion - I hear ya! And it's such a relief when it's over. I'll cheer you on!

  11. This post is awesome! :-) Good luck as you take on NaNoWriMo! :-)

  12. Your updates totally made me smile...and reading all of the YAhighway posts (a bit late cause work has been crazy busy), I am thinking about doing NaNo too, I might work on a rewrite though (the one on my mind and I only have a few thousands words in...I hate not following the rules, but I am thinking it´s okay, right?)
    By the way, how is your wonderful MS going? :D

  13. I loved reading your NaNo status updates! This inspires me, because I'm doing NaNo for the first time this year and nervous that I have very little planned. I love the part where you wrote craptastic prose! Haha, I'll be doing the same... That Dave Eggers quote is spot-on, thanks for sharing!

  14. Hi again, I just added you over at Nano. My "handle" is CatherineStine.


Post a Comment