Sunday, December 4, 2011

My Month of Literary Abandon: I’m a Winner!!!!!

NaNoWriMo came to an end for me on Tuesday night (well actually I believe it was Wednesday morning) with 50,096 words. Woot! Woot! 

I decided to participate late.  I had been toying with the idea for a few months.  I’d never done NaNoWriMo before and if I were really honest with myself, I was pretty sure that I’d fail miserably if I tried.  That was until my husband joined the craze and I was in direct competition with the man who pounds on his laptop at my dining room table. (Seriously, he types so loudly.) I could not, would not fail.  It was a matter of pride.  It was a matter of honor.  Besides I would have never heard of the end of it if he had won and I hadn’t.  I manage to get my words done twenty hours before he did. 

So this is me sticking my tongue out at you, honey!!  :-P

On October 31st I put together a spreadsheet so that I could keep track of my words.  I had a schedule.  I had a plan.  Incidentally, I think that was the last time I actually looked at that spreadsheet.

Everything fell apart the first week.  I couldn’t write and my husband was kicking my ass every single day.  At first I equated it to my lack of planning.  I had two main characters – an emotionally constipated college professor and a man who kidnaps and maims humans for a wicked Faerie Queen.  How on earth was I going to make those two people fall in love?  I had a setting.  It was the same city and world I had been working on for a year so most of the world building was done in advance.  So I had two people, a place and world for everything to happen in, but very little else.

After the first four days I was ready to call it a day and after the second week, I was sure I’d never finish in time.  And then I got an idea and then another and before I knew it, Carrig and Al (Alicia) were alive in my head.

You see the second most valuable thing that I learned from NaNoWriMo is:

The more I write, the more I get caught up in the story.  The more I get caught up in the story, the more I write.

Well, duh!!!  I don’t know why it took so long for me to see it. 

The most valuable thing I learned is:

You have to get the words out.  You can make excuses until you're blue in the face about why you can’t, but those excuses are just bullshit.  Freaking write the book already.

For the month of November I managed to read six novels and one novella, we celebrated my husband’s birthday twice, we had people over for dinner, we went away for Thanksgiving, I watched all thirty-some-odd episodes of Pretty Little Liars, and I worked a full time job (which consisted of a few hours of at home continuing education.)  I did all of this and wrote 50,000 words.  There is no reason that I can’t write 1000 – 2000 words a day.  I shouldn’t need a gimmick to write.  I just need to do it!

Next year if I do NaNoWriMo again I’ll be sure to pace myself better.  The disaster that is my home really got out of hand towards the end.  Dishes and unopened mail piled up.  The recycling bin didn’t get emptied so I resorted to placing empty seltzer bottles on the floor next to the recycling bin.  Giant piles of laundry started to form in the corners of our bedroom, piles that you could lose a small child in or a cat with a large noggin.    It would have been a shame to misplace Tommy.  It got so bad that I went out and bought a package of new socks before we left for Thanksgiving so that I didn’t have to pair up the clean ones I have left.  There you have it, my quiet shame.  I don’t pair up socks.  I just cram them into my sock drawer and hope for the best.

So now I have 50,000 words done in my “Zero Draft.”    The middle of the book is a bit of a mess.  I still have about 10,000 to 15,000 more words to write before I can say the end.  And when that’s done, I have a shocking amount of editing and rewriting to do.  I’ve got to work on characterization, tone, theme, and voice.  Basically everything.

So for me, as it is for a lot of folks, winning NaNoWriMo is just the beginning.  But I’ve got a plan!

So what did you learn from NaNoWriMo?  Did you win?  Are you going to scrap the project or keep writing?


To up the stakes, I’ve signed up for a three hour workshop with Nina Alvarez, who is not only my friend but an excellent freelance editor, titled Editing Toward Publication - Individualized Workshop.  I have a lot to learn and Nina is going to help me get there.    I’ve scheduled it for the first part of January.  I have to finish at least the first draft before then.  I hope it’ll keep me accountable.

Check out Editing Toward Publication – Individualized Workshop:

She’s also conducting a one hour webinar called Secrets of a Fiction Editor on January 21st.  I suggest you check it out.


  1. Great story! It's cool to see a husband/wife team battling out on NaNoWriMo. Glad you were able to beat his time!!

    This was my second year participating and my second year winning. I also got behind but the three day weekend allowed me to get caught up (22K words over three days = insane writer).

  2. So inspired by you, Buff. You really are a hell of a writing buddy. You are such a great role model. Seriously. I will get over my block some time and then we'll kick up some dust!

  3. Thanks, guys! It was hard, but not impossible. I still have so much work to do.