Friday, October 30, 2009


When we next meet, it will already be November. For those of you who are doing NaNoWriMo with me, I want you to take a moment to ponder... what does winning mean to you?

Is it precisely what the NaNoWriMo website says: 50K words in 30 days? Or is it more than that? (And, less.)

To me, NaNoWriMo is about put up or shut up. Do you want to be a writer? Then write. Do you want to write a novel? What have you done this very day to make that happen? Or, what did you prioritize instead? Was that the right choice?

Because NaNoWriMo is limited to a single month, it is easier to make sacrifices for our writing because we know it isn't going to be like this forever. We don't think too hard about recording a few t.v. shows, delegating a few household chores, and making a little more room for writing time, because it's a special event. In December, everything can go back to normal.

But what if it didn't? At the end of the month, win or lose, what will you have gained? There is a very distinct possibility that you will find that you were happier writing your novel than you were sitting on the couch watching reruns. Or you'll find out that your partner/kids can cook a meal or two every week without anyone being poisoned. Can you keep that going?

I have never won NaNo, in the strictest sense. I have never made it to 50,000 words without bringing in words that I wrote before November 1. In fact, ~30K words is the most I've ever gotten in one month. But you damn well better believe that I am a winner because of NaNo, because I kept writing, and rewriting, until I had an actual novel. Beginning, middle, and end, no plot holes... a BOOK. I wouldn't have that book if not for NaNo.

Think about the many goals that can be part of your NaNo experience: quieting your inner editor, getting a first draft done, getting a new character written, finding some new internet friends or perhaps even meeting some local Wrimos. If you keep those in your head as prominently as you do the 50K number, then you'll be less likely to give up just because that number seems too far away, and you'll be more likely to recognize that you ARE a winner, just for trying.

Good luck, break a leg, and Happy Halloween!


  1. I hope to gain a swift kick in the butt! To write. To put up or shut up.

    I am a little skeptical about meeting to the 50k but you better believe I am going to give it my all.

    This will teach me and my family the value of pursuing a dream against all types obstacles.

  2. I'm with Tamika, I need the swift kick too. Can't wait...

  3. For so many years I have dreamed of writing a novel, and you are right Carrie, this is the incentive to just get it done once so I can do again and again in the future.

    Good luck to everyone.

  4. What an amazing post. I almost cried as I read this. I this kind of talking-to. I was also touched to read that you've never "won" nano but finished your novel anyway I haven't even managed to that. I am so proud of you!

  5. Yay for NaNo! So excited.
    Last year was my first year and I did it because I wanted to know if I had it in me to win.
    Well, I didn't win and only got to 30k.
    But that made me wonder all the more if I had it in me, so I've been practicing all year. Especially during June and July. I made it to 60k for those months so I'm hoping that this year, with determination, extensive outlining and pre-writing stuff out of the way, I can sit down and git 'er done.

    For me, it's more about bragging rights than it is about writing my novel. Though I wouldn't do it if it didn't help me get my novel done. But being able to proudly say to my friends and family who already think I'm a nut for being a writer, "Hey, I wrote a book in a month!" That is soooo satisfying.

  6. All the best as you 'put up or shut up' :) Love that line by the way.

    Keep us up to date on how you are going.

  7. What a great way to look at NaNo. If we want to write, then we just need to do it! It's great if we can have the external motivation from NaNo. But we have to figure out how to motivate ourselves the rest of the year too!