National Novel Writing Month


A few years ago I learned about a form of torture that takes place all over the world every November. I’m talking about National Novel Writing Month or NaNoWrIMo as it has come to be known. This requires an author to write a 50,000 novel in 3o days.  I was struggling with my first book at the time and this seemed like an interesting distraction.

            I am sure I have complained about this before but it bears repeating.  No woman in her right mind would choose November for this endeavor.  

            I don’t remember how many words I wrote before realizing I was going to have company for two weeks at Thanksgiving. There were automatically 2 weeks that I would not be able to write with any kind of regularity.

            This went on for several years.  I always consoled myself with “At least you have some words you can use later.

            This year I vowed that I would win Nano whatever it took.  The first thing to go were descriptions. They are in a house damn it, what more do you want? Dialog became stilted and nothing was added beyond said, asked, or replied. And some of my characters had never used a contraction in their lives. Sometimes scenes just faded to black, and not just sex scenes.  I thought, If Criminal Minds could get away with  “as you know” conversations successfully for 14 seasons who was I to doubt its usefulness.

            Most importantly we celebrated Thanksgiving at someone else’s house.  And all decided not to exchange Christmas gifts. So I only lost 6 full days of writing.

            I counted every word religiously, keeping watch that Scrivener didn’t lie to me. My fingers developed a mind of their own and sometimes I swear I did not write those words. And my fingers were obviously delirious because those words made no sense. Maybe a letter or two that I needed but that was all. Sometimes I could figure out what I meant to say, sometimes I just had to start that part over.

            Then on November 28 Scrivener said I had reached 50,000. I didn’t trust it. I continued to write just to be sure.

            And just like that, I had won NANOWRIMO.  It had only taken me 10 years to accomplish.  It’s a terrible rough draft but who cares.  I did it.