It’s November. Time to get crazy writing. 

Kermit GIF that I blatantly stole from @speechwriterguy

Kermit GIF that I blatantly stole from @speechwriterguy

As Deborah pointed out in yesterday’s post, November 1st marks the start of the annual event called National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo,” for short. Over the next thirty (twenty-nine by the time this post goes live) days, hundreds of thousands of people (close to 500,000 are expected) will each attempt to write 50,000 words.

It is not an undertaking for the faint of heart.

I have a long and complicated relationship with NaNoWriMo that includes one “win” of 50,146 words in 2009 (my virgin year), one failed attempt in 2012 (which I blamed on Larry Brooks), and lots of arguing with myself.


Exhibit A: Seemingly Innocent Facebook Message

This year, I wasn’t even considering participating in the 30-day writing slog until a long-time online friend and fellow writer/NaNoWriMo-er (who also happens to be a fierce mama and a gorgeous unicorn, and who will remain unnamed) sent me a seemingly innocent Facebook message that said only, “NaNoWriMo, Darling!” and was punctuated by a jack-o-lantern emoji.

What can I say? She had me at NaNoWriMo.

I haven’t had much any time for fiction practice lately, and the lack of that particular creative outlet has left me a little despondent … a little what’s-it-all-about-alfie. I needed a project. I needed a project that was just for me – all mine.

fireflycafecvrSo, I logged into the NaNoWriMo site and made it official by “creating” my 2016 novel. The working title is The Firefly Cafe. It’s the same title I used in 2012, but the story has been evolving in my head. While my inner critic, doubter, and party pooper have combined forces to bombard me with more than the usual litany of excuses (and valid reasons) to give up before I’ve even begun, I’m going to do my best to ignore them and just go for it. I’m not making any promises. I’m just going to see where this takes me.

Happily, the first stop on my 2016 NaNoWriMo journey was a happy one. Inspired by my friend’s invitation, I spent my daughter’s half-hour riding lesson scribbling story ideas and questions in a notebook. While my daughter popped over fences on her favorite school pony, I was sketching out a storyline and asking myself questions about character motivations and possible plot twists. I was remembering what it felt like to put my imagination to good use, and it felt good.

My resolve was slightly shaken later in the evening when I read Guy Bergstrom’s post about why NaNoWriMo is “noble nuttiness.” (Tilting at windmills, anyone?) But, then I was encouraged by this N(entirely)SFW post from the inimitable Chuck Wendig about, in his words, “the pure f-ing joy of getting it all wrong.”

And then I meandered over to the NaNoWriMo press page and came across this little tidbit:

Over 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. They include Sara Gruen’sWater for Elephants, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, Hugh Howey’s Wool, Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, Jason Hough’s The Darwin Elevator, and Marissa Meyer’s Cinder. See a full list of our published authors.

How’s that for inspiration? Sure, the odds are against you, but these people proved that it’s not impossible to at least get a working draft completed in thirty days. (Granted, they may have been prepping for months – years even – but, maybe not.)

Finally, I dove into the Pep Talk archives on the NaNoWriMo site and read a lovely and kickass piece from Catherynne Valente, which included this little gem:

Write something true. Write something frightening. Write something close to the bone. You are on this planet to tell the story of what you saw here. What you heard. What you felt. What you learned. Any effort spent in that pursuit cannot be wasted. Any way that you can tell that story more truly, more vividly, more you-ly, is the right way.

So holler. Tell it loud and tell it bright and tell it slant and tell it bold. Tell it with space whales and silent films or tell it with quiet desperation or tell it with war or tell it with dragons or tell it with tall ships or tell it with divorce in the suburbs or tell it with dancing skeletons and a kraken in the wings.

Tell it fast before you get scared and silence yourself. You’ll never wish you’d held back a little more.

I’ll leave you with that.

But, if you happen to be playing along in NaNoWriMo land, look me up. You can never have too many writing buddies.

Happy writing!!

Jamie Lee Wallace Hi. I’m Jamie. I am a content writer and branding consultant, columnist, sometime feature writer, prolific blogger, and aspiring fiction writer. I’m a mom, a student of equestrian arts, and a nature lover. I believe in small kindnesses, daily chocolate, and happy endings. In addition to my bi-weekly weekday posts, you can also check out my Saturday Edition and Sunday Shareworthy archives. Off the blog, please introduce yourself on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest. I don’t bite … usually.

This post originally appeared on the Live to Write – Write to Live blog.

28 thoughts on “It’s November. Time to get crazy writing. 

  1. I added you as a buddy 🙂 I’m Stavechurch over there. It seems it’s my eighth year! I’m totally unprepared this year so will just pants along and see what happens, not really expecting a proper novel to come out of it. But hey, it’s fun and good to write 🙂

    • Yay! I saw you, and added you as well. Thanks so much. Glad to be connected there.
      I also am totally unprepared this year, so we’ll be in the same boat. 🙂

  2. Very nice i enjoyed this blog. I am trying my hand at this NaNoWrimo for the first time, a little nervous and excited at the same time. Thank you for the inspiration and the uNader standing that even a seasoned writer has concerns.

    • No writer is ever completely at ease with the act of writing. Getting worked up about the process and the possibilities and the fears is all part of the package. I’d even go so far as to say that it’s part of what drives writers to write. Be concerned, but go ahead and do it anyway. 🙂 Good luck!

  3. I did Nanowrimo the last two years. It was fun and extremely challenging at the same time. You definitely learn how to squeeze out time in your day to write. This year I’m going (a little) easier on myself and doing NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). Still a challenge to write a blog post a day, but not like the pressure to write a novel. Good luck on Nano and have fun!

    • I think (especially for people like me who are coming into November completely unprepared) that the biggest value to be derived from the whole exercise is just the development of a routine and the act of putting ass in chair on a regular basis. It may not be a habit that lasts forever, but it’s a step in the right direction.
      Good luck with NaBloPoMo … also a daunting challenge!

  4. I looooooooooooooooooove that Kermit The Frog picture! That was awesome! If I hadn’t known you I would have totally clicked to find out who this awesome person was that posted Kermit typing away. I feel you on the NanoWriMo. I attempted it a couple of times but didn’t succeed until December … so my Nano extended itself. But either way I got some writing done and some characters jamming on their journeys. I thought about it a little and wasn’t sure, but knowing that some fellow bloggers are out there trying it out … hey November 2 sounds just like the right time to sign up. And thanks for the links!!! I enjoy their pep talks … kind of makes me feel like I have my own writer’s support group out there cheering me on.

    • Yeah. Kermit rocks. 🙂
      So … does that mean you’re in? Will I see you over in NaNoWriMo land? Hope so!
      There are a lot more pep talks archived on the site. I am looking forward to digging through them later in the month when I need a little pick me up. (Like, maybe tomorrow.)

    • Thanks! Added you to my list as well.
      Glad you liked my bio. Definitely thrown together. 😉

      Here we go!!

  5. Ok, so you’ve convinced me to give it a go. I’ve never done this; I’m not even sure how to begin. Somehow I’ve always known there’s a epic story in the depths of my mind waiting to surface. Time to start fishing? Maybe so… thanks for the encouragement. I’m jumping in!

    • That’s great, Mary Lauren! 🙂
      The beauty of NaNoWriMo is that there really is no right or wrong way to go at it. Also, there’s PLENTY of advice on the NaNoWriMo site and forums to get you inspired and help you from going crazy.

      Have FUN!!

  6. Pingback: Writer’s Weekend Edition – NaNoWriMo Week 1 – Embracing the Crazy | Live to Write – Write to Live

  7. Pingback: On Momentum, Saying ‘No’ and Self-Belief – Elixir: Creative and Reflective Writing

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