Why I’m Doing NaNoWriMo This Year

In November 2011, I decided to use National Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) to focus on writing a short story. Which turned into a novella. Which turned into a novel. Which turned into a part of a series. But not all in one month, but over many months, and after changing my ideas so many times for that story itself and for the series, I’ve decided instead of overwhelming myself with big ideas, I was going to go back to focusing on something small again.

5booksatonceAnd by small I mean a full-fledged novel to be written in November (as much as I can, anyway). But just one story, and a stand-alone at that. Hopefully. The other started as a stand-alone short story after all…

However, I have a plan and a plot this time. In 2011, I was going in completely unplanned, discovery writing if you will. Which was kind of fun, and it led to a lot of changes. But this time, I know that to write approximately 50,000 words in one month, I’ll have to be focused. I’ve plotted what I can and written bits and pieces, and the rest will have to find me as I go. I already have the end in mind and I feel the two main characters are well established.

And I have to remember the first draft won’t be a masterpiece. And that’s OK.

I’m reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott right now, which has already been so encouraging for me when it comes to writing. I decided I wanted this to be the last book I read before launching onto this novel writing project, and that in November I might not even read anything. I have spent from February to the present so focused on reading and blogging that writing has taken more of a backseat than I have wanted it to. This is to help re-orient myself back to it. I’ve exceeded my reading goal for the year so it feels easier to move on to writing now. So now I just have to take it sentence by sentence, or as Anne Lamott puts it, bird by bird.

write-a-bookAnyone else participating in NaNoWriMo next month? If you’re a writer, tell me how you stay focused to plug away at your story! 

31 Responses to Why I’m Doing NaNoWriMo This Year

  1. Go you! It’s sounds like that you got everything planned out pretty well 🙂 “The first draft won’t be a masterpiece. And that’s OK.” _< It's true. No first draft is going to be perfect, as much as we would want it to be.

    And you already have an end in mind? I do too! I think it will make placing events in between the first page and the last page much easier! My only trouble is connecting those events together well…

    Let's cheer each other on! 😀

    • Connecting the dots in between the beginning and the end has always been the hard part for me too! Especially since it means putting through my characters through hard times! We’ll definitely cheer each other on! I sent you a DM on Twitter with my NaNoWriMo website username.

  2. I have been considering NaNoWriMo and what I would do during it. I have no interest in starting a novel from scratch while I’m working on one now. I do plan to complete my novel during it as it is 42,000 words now and I think will wrap up around 60,000 for a good shorter novel, (recommended by most for a first novel) rather than a long 100,000 word epic. Part two of my novel will actually become book two in a two book series as it is very different from the beginning of the story.

    I’m going to just dedicate to using NaNoWriMo (that is annoying to type BTW with those caps) as the finishing time for my novel. First draft complete. Good luck with yours Amy!


    • It is annoying to type out all those caps, ha ha! I think what dedicating November to finishing up what you have now makes perfect sense! Good luck with your writing as well!

  3. I love Bird By Bird! That’s a great book to read to get ready for NaNoWriMo. I’m planning on participating this year, too, although I don’t know if I have any good advice for staying focused. Having a goal really helps me. Lately I’ve been having such a hard time drafting– I think because I’m so used to revising it feels wrong to let myself just write and be okay with writing crap– so I’m hoping NaNo will help me get over it. And I just think it’s fun! I’m glad you’re doing it, too!

    • I think having a goal will help me too, and of course having the goal to write a story in a month is definitely something to strive towards! And I agree that it is so hard to just allow yourself to write cruddy stuff!

  4. Best of luck with it! 🙂 I planned to do NaNoWriMo this year but I’m moving next week so November is going to be super busy as it is without trying to write 50,000 words. Although if everything goes well I hope to start some little bit of it (even if it’s just 10 or 20,000 words towards the end of November) and have something to work on in December. 🙂 I love that you’re writing a stand-alone novel, we need more of them in the book world. 😀

    • That’s totally understandable! Even if you only get a little bit written in November, like you said, it gives you something to work on in December. Normally I wouldn’t try to write so much in such a short period of time, but it felt right to try out this year.

  5. Isn’t it funny how a plot bunny can morph into a series in just a few minutes? Haha!

    I’ll be taking part in NaNoWriMo this year, too. My history with it is a little rocky (I haven’t won since 2007, my first year, and I haven’t even tried some years), but I WILL win this time! 🙂

    Bird by Bird looks like a great read (and something my lackluster writing life could benefit from). I’ll definitely have to be on the lookout for it!

    • I don’t understand the “winning” thing since it’s my first time. Is it just reaching the 50,000 word goal? (I’m not saying just lightly… I know that’s a huge accomplishment!)

      I saw many recommendations for it so I had to check it out, and I’m glad I did!

      • Oh! I hadn’t realized this will be your first time. Yep! “Winning” just means you reached the 50k goal!

        The only “writing” book I’ve read is Stephen King’s “On Writing”, but I really need to read more books on, well, writing! Haha.

        Good luck next month! 🙂

  6. Yay, Amy!! I’m glad you’re doing NaNo this year! It’s been forever since I last attempted it but this year I’m determined to see it through. See you in the NaNo group soon! 😀

  7. Woo! Exciting that you’re doing it and I love the series of pictures you posted, very accurate 🙂 I think I might do it. I’m a bit intimidated and like you said, it’s necessary to be focused. I know if that I don’t or am lagging, I’ll have fun watching your progress! Good luck 🙂

    • Thanks! I hope you do it too! I’ve been a machine this week writing up all kinds of notes on my story and the characters, hoping they’ll translate to words next month!

  8. DUDE, you’re writing FIVE books at once?! That’s insane! How do you cope? How do you manage with life? How how how? I need to learn your secret. But anyway, all the best with NaNo this year! I’m going to be participating as well, though I doubt I’ll be able to reach the word count. Doesn’t hurt to try, though, right?

    I think it’s extremely important to keep reminding yourself that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s one of the only problems I face when it comes to writing: I’m constantly unsatisfied with my work, and I keep needing to fight urges to go back and rewrite. Meg, finish your first draft. Then comes the editing and revision. Need. to. get. that. into. my. thick. head!

    Anyway, we shall cheer each other on with threats and marshmallows! 😀 And I’m afraid that I don’t have the advice you seek. I face the same problem with keeping focused on what I’m supposed to be doing as well. >.>

    P.S. That HIMYM picture — so true. Gotta love Barney.

    • Ha ha, that’s just a picture I found online that I felt expresses a problem I deal with, which is starting stories but being so crippled with how good it may or may not be that I freeze up. In a way, I’m writing a dozen different books, but none of them actively, out of fear that I need to find “the masterpiece.” That’s why I think I really need to do NaNoWriMo this year… To start fresh and to put the focus on one story and see it all the way through, good, bad, or otherwise. I’m hoping that by pushing through my fears I can unlock something for this story and it be a learning experience to help me work through the dozen other ideas I have, one at a time.

      Good luck to you as well!

  9. Alright. I’ve been debating on this with myself for a few weeks now and after getting the nod of support from my wife have decided I AM going to participate in NaNoWriMo this month with a full story.

    I want to write a 50,000 word novel based on one of my short stories I have written. I am looking for votes as to which short story I should expand into a full novel.

    Let me know which you think you would want to read:

    The Dragon of Unrest – A hero with a dragon companion suffering from his curse.
    Trapped in a Plane on an Iceberg – Super Agent story fighting to save the world in a secret society
    A Good Morning – A writer 800 years in the future living in a distant galaxy
    Saving the Village – Two brothers. One a good hearted ‘reject’ and one an arrogant leader from a village

    Read the short stories here (each under a 3 minute read):


    I appreciate any help in assisting me with my decision.


      • Yea. It get’s real frustrating when those little things called work, life, and stuff keep getting in the way of writing time. Completing the 50,000 on time though will feel really good.

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