NaNoWriMo: The 2011 Challenge

This summer, I decided I would participate in NaNoWriMo this year. What’s NaNoWriMo? It’s both an oraganization that promotes and the actual act of taking part in National Write a Novel in a Month month.

Up until just a week or so ago, I was VERY excited. I planned to write the rough draft of a novel for which I’ve been gathering ideas for several years. (Maybe more than several?) Recently, say the last two years, I’ve been living in Revision World, focusing on revisioning and preparing for submissions novels I had previously been content to stuff in drawers so I could just write another one. But this November, I decided, I would let myself write something new.

Then a funny thing happened. Week by week, day by day, as November 1 has approached—Day 1 of NaNoWriMo— frantic thoughts flash through my mind. “Am I ready? I haven’t developed the character of my protagonist yet! I haven’t done enough world-building! I haven’t made a map—a massively time-killing, awfully fun activity! Yikes! Just one week to go!”

Now here I sit, less than 1 week to go and I’m wondering, “Can I do it? Do I have enough ideas? Can I do a good job?”

Why do I keep forgetting that I usually write my rough drafts in four to six weeks? Why should I feel troubled that I might not get it done by the end of November? Do I have some kind of vindictive boss standing over me with a whip? Have I ever not finished a novel I started and believed in?

Silly, silly me.

I’m going to participate in NaNoWriMo, but a good friend has reminded me quality writing is not quantity of pages finished in x amount of time. Can I write my rough draft in a month? Maybe.

Do I need to beat myself up is I don’t? Nope.

First and foremost I need to serve the story. If I can finish my rough draft in a month, great. If I don’t, it’s not like I can’t keep working on it December 1 and any day I wish thereafter.

Thus, I am at last ready to embark on the writing adventure of NaNoWriMo, and the only thing that matters is that I stay true to my vision for the novel and enjoy the journey.

What about you? Anyone out there going to try their hand at NaNoWriMo?


2 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: The 2011 Challenge

  1. Hi Debbie–The purpose of NaNoWriMo is to just write the book—you aren’t supposed to have it perfect. Jane Yolen says, “Just write the damn book” and “keep your butt in the chair”–I was surprised just how easy it was to do that with the deadline of only November. I didn’t get 50,000 words but I did get 35,000 which I felt was good. That was the month I was dealing with Dad’s death and all. I am planning on trying this again this year but have the surgery on November 14th and probably will only have about 2 weeks. I know I won’t get enough words but it will give me a KICKSTART for the long winter months that lay ahead! Best of luck!


    1. Hi Judi!
      Thanks for the reminder. I am getting excited again. I began doing some character development activities I learned from Jeff Gerke’s book, Plot vs. Character: A Balanced Approach to Writing Great Fiction, and Susan May Warren whose class I took at the Oregon Christian Writer’s conference this summer. My main character’s name is Lillianna and she’s developing into a pretty interesting young woman. And she even has faults (one of my weaknesses in character building) and is not just like me! Hooray!
      Today I think I’ll draw a map.


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