Why it’s okay to be in a reading slump in November (or, my history with NaNoWriMo)

This month, I’m participating in NaNoWriMo, which is a month-long writing challenge to write a 50,000-word novel (or part of a novel) in the month of November (The name stands for National Novel Writing Month). So while the library books stack up (and oh, how I want to read them), I’m trying to do more writing than reading this month as I draft my new YA novel. It’s a currently-untitled YA rom-com, and I’m really excited about it.

As October wrapped up, I realized I was feeling like I was in a bit of a reading slump because I had started two books that were on the bigger side but that I was slow getting into. Well, I’m still wading through those, and while I like them both, I still feel like I’m slumping a bit (we’re eight days into November and I haven’t finished a book yet!).

But I’m okay with it because if I want to meet that crazy word count, it’s better for me to get sucked into my own project right now than a book that I can’t put down, right?. (On the other hand, I keep starting new books, probably because I can’t help looking for the next book that I can’t put down. I can’t help myself.)

NaNoWriMo pairs well with drinks of all kinds!

NaNoWriMo pairs well with drinks of all kinds!

In 2007, despite a cross-country trip home for over a week, and a 6-month old baby, I “won” NaNoWriMo, writing my first quasi-complete novel. I had always wanted to write before that, but that was the first year I actually finished a work of fiction (that project had lots of plot holes, and not much substance but hey, I did get to the end!). I feel nostalgic thinking back to the house we lived in (in another state) that year where I wrote that story.

Eight months later, I started blogging and dove headfirst into a different writing world. Nine years, and two more kids later, with blogging having slid a bit towards the back burner, I decided to try my hand at NaNoWriMo again with a middle grade book idea. I didn’t win, but I did finish it later. I gave it to Gigi for her birthday and queried it a bit, which was a good learning experience. For the next two years, NaNo kickstarted me into finishing another manuscripts (the YA one I’m currently querying), and now here I am again!

One of the best things about NaNo is connecting with other writer friends who are putting their heads down to try to cram in as many words as possible. In 2007, I met a writer friend who is one of the few people I’ve kept in touch with from our time living in Colorado, and this year, I have been connecting with fellow Bookstagrammers who are also doing NaNoWriMo. This project is such a unique writing experience that it’s fun to celebrate the high days and lament the low ones with other writers.

NaNoWriMo’s an endeavor that I recommend for every aspiring novelist to try at least once. For me, it’s been a special project, because it’s really what got me back to my dream of writing fiction, it gave me the gumption to go for it, even if I felt like I had not clue what I was doing.

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It’s been a long time since I used an affiliate link here, but that’s something I’d like to bring back to the blog in small doses and I wanted to share that as far as writing goes, I’m completely in love with the Scrivener platform. This is the program I use for all my writing projects (pictured above next my holiday red cup). If you click my link and purchase it, I simply receive a small commission.

I did it! NaNoWriMo 2008 Final Update

That's right, I made it to 50,000 words! Here's the proof:


made it to 50k words!

My experience was a challenging one to be sure, but I was able to persevere (thanks in part to a 9,000 writing spree while we drove from Colorado to California and the modern convenience of electricity while camping). It was well worth the stress and time spent to be able to achieve an accomplishment like this.

A highlight was having an evening out at Caribou Coffee to write with my writing buddy "A Mom in the 'Burbs," which took me back to the days when my husband and I would spend late nights in local coffee shops attempting to study.

Thanks to everyone who wished me well and supported me, especially to my husband and parents who had to deal with me typing at particularly inappropriate times (i.e., when I should have been packing, unpacking or sitting by a campfire).

I'm really looking forward to the editing/rewriting stage as I still feel like the story is incomplete, but I'm thinking I'll wait until 2009 for that.

Oh, and I only have a working title, which I'm not quite satisfied with, but here's the tiny synopsis/teaser of the novel I wrote (I really like saying that):

Tara Donovan, 25, moves from L.A. to Denver to start life over as a freelance writer and part-time nanny for her nephews. A feminine, bookish type, she also has a passionate love for baseball, and may end up closer to the Colorado Rockies than even she could imagine.

WriMo Update~ End of Week 2!

As of yesterday I had written 24, 217 words, which is just about 800 words over the targeted word count. I had a bit of a slow week, but thankfully my early word count cushion allowed me to stay in the game and on track. A couple of plot developments have grown out of nothing which has been fun, and so far, I'm still enjoying the process. My local WriMo buddy and I went out to Caribou Coffee to do a little writing the other night, which was great, and made me feel like I was single and in college again, since my husband and i used to go study at coffee shops a lot before we were married. :)

WriMo Update~ The Madness Begins Edition!

As the NaNoWriMo Blog mentioned this week, 2008 loves novelists! And I wanted to post this for any other participants out there: a fellow Denver NaNo shared this cool Word Count Calendar that will make keeping track of progress easier!

Rather than just using Word, I'm trying out a program called Scrivener. It has a 30-day trial, which would work perfect for NaNo! But I'm sure I'll end up purchasing it because I really like it so far. There's a great video tutorial on the site.

So, I woke up early this morning... I actually felt like a little kid trying to sleep on Christmas Eve. And Chiquita slept in until almost 9 am (!!), so I was able to crank out a little over 1,000 words. It felt good, but I'm still feeling a little doubtful that I can do this (prayers accepted!). But I'm going for it!

Remember you can click the blue NaNoWriMo button in my sidebar to go to my Auther Profile on the NaNo website. I hope to update my word count there as much as possible.

WriMo Update!

In one week I will attempt to make one of my dreams a reality. I will embark on what I described to a friend as a "month-long journey to insanity." I've mentioned before how crazy I feel doing this, but I also feel like I have to do it.

I have a few friends joining me for the ride, and I'm super excited to see what we come up with. I've started brainstorming this week and feel like I have at least a little direction. I'm not too worried about that since I read on the website today that NaNoWriMo's founder said he's "still without a plot or characters and feeling pretty good about it."

I'm going to try to write weekly updates throughout the month on this blog about my progress with WriMo. But hey, no guarantees-- I'll be writing a 50,000 word novel, packing a house, moving halfway across country, chasing a crazy 18-month old, oh yeah, and eating and sleeping, maybe, too.

You'll notice a little blue NaNoWriMo badge in my sidebar... feel free to click on over to my "Author Page" at WriMo and see how my "writing buddies" and I are progressing there. And it's not too late to sign up! I'd love more buddies, aka partners in insanity! It's going to be fun!

NaNoWriMo: Why My Life is Going to be LOCA in November!

With less then a month until November begins, I figured it was time to share my big news. This November, I will attempt to write a 50,000-word novel. (!!!)

Yes, I'm serious. I'm going to be joining thousands of other crazy people who will take part in the annual November endeavor, National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo.

I first found out about this a few years ago, when I was still in grad school and it seemed much too daunting for a student. This year, I'm planning to pack the house and move halfway across the country in November. Not to mention the fact that we go camping at the beach every Thanksgiving. Do you think I'm crazy yet?

The truth is, I've decided there will never be The Perfect Time to take part, so I just decided to do it. I've been reading books on writing and pondering possible plot elements, and basically getting totally psyched up for it. I even have a new friend who's joining me. I'm nervous, anxious, excited and a little intimidated but I'm going to go for it.

What I love about NaNoWriMo is that it's about accomplishment. Every writer who reaches the 50,000 mark is a winner. The philosophy behind the movement is Quantity, Not Quality. There's no editing (that's for the next 11 months), and it doesn't matter if your "novel" ends up crappy. You can always rework and rewrite later. Even though there's an insane 30-day deadline, there's very little pressure.

And the deadline is the most important part. I'm sure everyone who's had to write a research paper knows that without that deadline it never would have happened. And those of you who know that I've attempted (and never finished) fiction projects in the past will believe me when I say, I need the deadline. I think it will help me finally cross-off that item that's on many people's lifelong to-do list: write a novel.

I plan to give weekly updates on Saturdays, as I countdown throughout October and then as I progress through November.

So wish me luck! And please, pray for my soon-to-be neglected house & family. :)