NaNoWriMo: The Secret Weapon

I've signed up for NaNoWriMo once again. I'm writing a sequel to the 2013 New York Times surprise bestseller, "Verbosity's Vengeance", which, as you recall, was made into a moderately successful indie movie of the same title in 2014. The book this year is titled, "The Secrets of Spectrum":

Kate Hunter is a woman with secrets, and the effort of keeping them from the people around her is slowly driving her insane. If her colleagues at the university knew about her superpowers, her career as a scientist would be over. If her mentor and friend, the Grammarian, knew about her true motives in pursuing a hidden life as a crime-fighter, he'd be forced to become her worst nightmare. And if the world knew her deepest secret of all, she would never see her family again. With time running out, she must decide which secrets to guard, whose trust to betray, and whose life to save.
It's an act of courage for me to sign up for NaNoWriMo. It requires me to ignore all the rational parts of my brain which, in looking over my schedule of obligations for November, goes utterly berserk with red flags, alarm klaxons, and dire warnings. They go something like this:

NaNoWriMo is a stupid thing to do! You don't have time for this!

To which I respond, that's true, rational brain, all very true.

No, you're not listening to me! Aside from all the normal STUFF you have to do in November, you're also going to be running your first 10K, traveling to Japan for a week, AND taking a week-long road trip to the Midwest for Thanksgiving! You will be overworked, worn out, jet lagged, and consumed with business, family, and social obligations for the entire month of November. Your wife is going to kill you! YOU DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!

Again, all of this is 100% true. I'm not denying any of it, nor am I contesting the premise that attempting NaNoWriMo is a horrifically dumb thing to do. However, what my rational brain doesn't seem to realize is that I have a secret weapon, one which will defang all the terrors that stand between me and success.

What could that possibly be? A time machine? A drug that lets you go without sleep for a month?

Nope. It's a fresh, blank notebook and a pen.

That's it. You've gone insane. You can't seriously be thinking of doing NaNoWriMo in longhand? How is that NOT a thousand times worse than typing it?

Simmer down, rational brain. You and I both know that I have semi-compulsive hypergraphia, right? Well, instead of writing out my usual stream-of-consciousness text, or notes ABOUT the novel, I'll write the novel itself! It'll be perfect!

You are an idiot.

No, hear me out. The one huge advantage of typing out the first draft is that the text is captured. You don't need to transcribe from longhand later. However, the problem with using a laptop is the bulky, cumbersome, slow startup nature of it. It's not amenable to odd moments in airports, or comfortably writing on an airplane tray, let alone in the passenger seat of a minivan. A notebook will be instant-on, infinite battery life, and silent.

Also horribly inefficient and messy. Plus, you'll just have to type it into the computer at some point. You're doubling your work! And do you really think you'll be able to do 50,000 words longhand? That's impossible! You type WAY faster than you write by hand!

Yes, it's messy, but no, I won't necessarily have to type it. When the draft is done, I'll eventually read it in, using the voice dictation function of my iPhone in Evernote. That'll transfer it to my computer, where I'll copy & paste into yWriter. And who knows? Maybe during the reading, I'll be able to correct the first draft on the fly, making it a revised second draft.

You're hallucinating.

And as for hitting 50,000 words... I'm not going to worry about it.

WHAT?!? The whole point of NaNoWriMo is WINNING!!! If you don't write 50,000 words, YOU WON'T WIN!!!!

Listen, rational brain... I've been meaning to have this talk with you for a while now. I think you might be taking things a bit too seriously. This year, I'm just going to enjoy the process of writing. In all the hoopla about publishing and sales numbers and such, I've kinda lost track of the fact that I just like writing. So I'm going to ignore the wordcount part of it, not worry so much about "winning", and be happy with what I can get done in the time available to me. I really think that -



So, anyway, that's me and NaNoWriMo this year. I'm taking a different approach - let's see how it goes.

||| Comments are welcome |||
Help keep the words flowing.


  1. Tony, I'm sitting NaNoWriMo out this year, for a whole series of reasons, some of which dovetail with what your rational brain had to say.

    One thing I used to do when writing it longhand was to (after a few pages or so) count the number of words on the pages just written, writing the number at the bottom of the page. The number at the top of the next page was the prior page's top number + the bottom number.

    I found it daunting (and time consuming) to count large numbers of pages, so I did the counting thing every few pages or so. The number at the bottom of each page remained presently constant as I went along.

    Wishing you the best...and I'll be happy to buy my copy of "The Secrets of Spectrum" when it hits the shelves.

  2. I also read somewhere that you can count each page as roughly 500 words, or count one page and use that number as the base number of words multiplied by number of pages for a rough count. ☺

    Also, laptops may be bulky but your smart phone is NOT. What I have done in past when away from the computer is either write on Google Docs (Drive, whatever) or else write myself emails that I later copy and paste into the document.

    Of course, handwriting forces you to slow down and think differently, so if that's your goal, than nevermind. Good luck to you!


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