Why I am doing NaNoWriMo 2009

It’s not because I think it will be easy. Far from it, in fact. I think it’s going to be an absolute pain in the ass. My schedule for November is difficult already, and I’m going to get a lot of opposition as I try to set aside at least two solid hours to write every single day during November. To write, to write, to actually write… not plan or think or consider or revise or map out or talk about writing.

To write.

So, if it’s going to be so hard, why do it?

Because my schedule is always difficult, and I almost always get opposition when I try to set aside time to write. If I don’t declare an intention and make it happen, it will never happen.

Ah, but what made me decide to do it? What tipped the scale?

Two things: the experience of doing #FridayFlash and some technical problems.

I’ve been writing the #FridayFlash pieces for six weeks. This is a piddling amount of time compared to some, but it is an exercise in discipline. Legion have been the promises I’ve made and broken about writing. A thousand words a day, thirty minutes a day, five thousand a week, one complete story a month, a fully revised novel by Christmas… life has intervened to scuttle them all.

By “life”, of course, I mean “me”.

The #FridayFlash deadlines were something I imposed on myself to force myself to write. One story, roughly a thousand words, every week. I’ve found that I can work with this, and enjoy the experience of the writing, be pleased with the outcome.

The feedback has been wonderful, too. Getting a clear read on when something works or doesn’t, when something or someone I’ve written is as exciting, beautiful or distasteful as I think it is… well, that’s just a joy.

And when I’ve written something that I think is deep, sparkling and clever, but 90% of the readership finds it confusing, opaque and disjointed? OK, it’s a somewhat less joyful experience to have a story flop, but it is a valuable experience.

Do I want to be an auteur or an author?

The other thing is a technical problem. I wrote a flash fiction piece which I quite liked. I’ll probably repost it next week for #FridayFlash, as it is the basis for my NaNoWriMo novel. With a thousand words in hand, I mapped out the rest of the story. It’s a great arc, great plot, great characters, and I’m excited about it.

I started writing, and got another 5000 words on it. Those 5000 words were not pure gold; they were a solid first draft, a good beginning. When they were erased, I was left right back where I started, with a flash story and a bunch of notes.

I haven’t done anything with the story since then. At first, because I didn’t have time or energy for it. Then, it was because I realized that what I needed was a solid block of time and effort. Not time enough to replicate the 5000 words I lost, but time enough to construct the framework of a full draft, start to finish. Time and space enough devoted to this WIP to really call it all forth out of the void.

I needed NaNoWriMo.

As foolish as it is, I’ll dive into NaNoWriMo this year, and pay the price for doing so. Formlessly waiting for me to pick up my hammer and chisels, my characters have been trapped in the stone long enough.

UPDATE: My name on NaNoWriMo is Tony Noland. Spectators and buddies are welcome.


  1. This will be my first time with NaNo too.

  2. Laura and Tony: good for both of you! I finished a NaNo a few years back under a pseudonym. It was difficult, but a well worth the while experience.

    I haven't done it since because, as Tony talks about, Life has happened. I finally ralized that there will just never be a "good time" to do it, so i might as well do it now.

    It's not like enxt year won't have many, if not all, of the same issues.

  3. I shall NaNo with you, for all the same reasons.

    Drwasy is my handle. Let us buddy up, pardner!

    Peace, Linda

  4. Linda - just added you to my buddy list. Glad to be with you!

  5. Last year was my first NaNoWriMo - I hadn't even heard of it before.

    It was a blast and crazy and insane. It has also become part of my writing cycle because it forces focus.

  6. Best of luck, Tony!

    This will be my sixth year and I invariably wonder why the heck I do this to myself but, well. I think I'm addicted. ;)

  7. I'm doing it too, and think I must be insane. I rarely find time to do #fridayflash any more! I don't even have a story yet. I'll see if I can figure out how to add buddies. We can do this!


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