Confessions of A NaNoWriMo Failure

By Ronda Simmons

Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It stands for National Novel Writing Month. The challenge is to write an entire first draft, fifty thousand words, during November. If things go well, you’ll have a manuscript at the end of the thirty days of the eleventh month.

Sorry Bessie, it’s NaNoWriMo, not NaNoWriMoo.
Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

There is something about mandatory word counts that puts my brain right into a tailspin. The last time I attempted the NaNoWriMo challenge, my total word count for the month was 450. That’s words, not pages, and it includes the twenty times I wrote, “I can’t write.”

So why would I put myself through it again?

There are many reasons why I’m going to give it another go. First, some really fantastic people are doing it, and I desperately want to make it into the cool kids’ club. Also, we’re in a pandemic, so what else am I going to do?

More importantly, a story knocking around in the back of my brain demands to be told, so I will attempt to get the words down.

Here’s my strategy:
  • I’ve been outlining this month, also known as Preptober. I am trying to understand my main characters and what makes them do what they do. There’s the retired army officer who is lost now that he’s out of the military. The free-spirited woman falls in love with him, and her two daughters, who are teenagers, so naturally hate each other. And maybe some nefarious activities that will involve the local police, a truck mechanic, and a cashier at King Soopers.
  • I am only going to track my word-count progress once a week. On Saturday mornings, I’ll see how far I’ve come. If the news is awful, I’ve got all weekend to do something about it, and I swear, this time, not to check my word count every other sentence.
  • Instead of daily word count goals, I will have time scheduled for writing every day without distraction. If the words don’t come, I’ll sit and stare at the blank screen WITHOUT CHECKING SOCIAL MEDIA until my time is up.
  • I’m going to take advantage of all the support that NCW and our local NaNoWriMo group offer. There will be an on-line kick-off party on October 31st, beginning at 10 PM MST, for example. November 14th will be “The Night of Writing Treacherously,” and I don’t know what that means, but I’m intrigued. I just joined the NaNoWriMo Twitter page and the Facebook group.
  • There will be a bunch of virtual write-ins, and challenges and writing sprints and whatnot. Check the NCW Facebook members’ page for details next week.
  • I’ve gathered all of my best writing books near my desks, so if I get really stuck or discouraged, I can go to them for encouragement, advice, and solace.

Talk to me, Chuck!

So how about you? Are you going to give NaNoWriMo a try?

For more information, check out these websites:

So how about you? Are you going to give NaNoWriMo a try?

For more information, check out these websites:

NaNoWriMo Official Site

A Beginner’s Guide to Entering NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo Tips for Newbies

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