NaNoWriMo is Coming. I must be crazy...

Jennifer Bradshaw

*This post originally appeared on one of my old blogs, on Sept. 6, 2016. I will be moving the blog posts over there to sagewolfsong.com gradually.*

NaNo is coming in November.

sage wolfsong blog title I must be crazy nano 2016

I think I'm a tad on the crazy side, folks, because I signed up for this 1 month challenge. Of course, those that know me well would probably agree wholeheartedly that I am, and that this is just further proof, but what the heck, right?

Before I go on, though, most of you are probably wondering what in the world I'm talking about, so let me give you just a little background before I loose you entirely.

NaNoWriMo is short for "National Novel Writing Month". The month of November has hosted this lovely event for writers for about 17 years now, and I'm diving in wholeheartedly this year. One month, 30 days, 50,000 words (which comes to about 200 pages, single spaced).

I'd never heard of it last year, when a friend of ours, published author Allie McCormack, told me about it. I was pretty sure she was crazy at that point. Fifty. Thousand. Words. In 30 days? No friggin way, girl!  But she's been published. More than once even! Girl knows it can be done, so what the heck. I became one of her unofficial cheerleaders.

Now, I've always toyed with the idea of writing a book, and this last year, with the whole reinvention of my life, I started seriously thinking about what I needed to do to accomplish this thing on my bucket list. As we move into September, I've read books, talked endlessly to Allie and taken a couple of writing classes. I'm still not 100% convinced I can do this, but when Allie excitedly posted that this year's NaNo was open, I jumped in, both feet, and then decided to think about it. Duh.

I had a brief moment of panic. I mean, I already have 2 different story ideas all mapped out already, so making this happen isn't totally nuts, but I've never written that much, let alone doing it in 30 days. But I suppose it wouldn't be called a challenge if it was going to be easy, right?

So... I call Allie, freaking out, as the reality of this project comes crashing down on me, and I see that she's posted that she's all done making her to-do list for NaNo... wait. to-do list? Already? It's still 2 months away!

She sent me a few of her prep documents so I could get an idea of her process, and she sent me off to the NaNo website to do a little reading of some of their pep talks (apparently, I had that deer-in-the-headlights look, cause she sent me to a pep talk by one of our favorite authors). The idea that I'm doing this project alongside bestselling authors doesn't help the swarm of butterflies swirling in my gut, but I push through it. I'm not exactly a "seater", but I'm not exactly a "planner" either. I can do this, I think.

It's been 10 days since I signed up. I'm still having small panic attacks about this project, but I'm getting there.

Today, I actually opened the stuff Allie sent me, saved it to my GDrive, made copies of it for the two books I'm working on.

Today, I worked a little more on my own to-do list, and found a cool peptalk about prepping for NaNo.

Today, I ordered my NaNo 2016 shirt (and a cute poster for my own aspiring author daughter).

Today, I sat down, to try to figure out what writing 1,000 words in a day feels like. Well, that was my goal anyway.

I sat down at my computer, music flowing through earbuds, and... stared at my monitor. Nothing happened. I've already got 800 words on the screen from my last writing session, but that was before I signed up for 1700 words a day for 30 days.

I tapped at my keys, got stuck. Nothing sounded right to me. And yeah, I know... it's a first draft, I should be cutting myself some slack, and giving myself permission to write badly. But I couldn't even write badly! I was writing horribly! It was really, really bad. Then I got the horrible thought that here I am, starting a novel I don't know if I can finish before NaNo begins, and I sure don't want to start something that has to be totally shelved for a month!

Hop over to Asana, create a new project and start mapping out the writing of this book. Yeah, I don't have any pre-writing prep stuff done, but what the heck, right? I have a written outline that's about 6 pages long in my writing notebook, and I've been actively kicking this book around for about 2 months now, so I have a start on that stuff, even if it's not done. Plan out an incremental increase in my words-per-day plan for this book, so that I am working up to 1700 words per day, see where that puts me.

Assured that I can comfortably finish this book before NaNo begins, I go back to writing. This time, everything flows out of my fingers. I can close my eyes and write what I see happening in the scene. My characters are moving, breathing, thinking beings in my computer.

I have no idea how much I've written or for how long when I hear hubby and daughter in the kitchen, doing dishes to get ready for dinner, so I do a quick time check. Oh.. damn. It's been two hours! When I do a word count on what I've written, I'm at 2600+ words. I've written more than 1800 words in the two hours since I decided to try this, and that includes the time I putzed around on Asana, figuring out a writing schedule.

Now, I'm a realist. Once in a while. I can occasionally touch base with reality. I do spend a lot of time in my head, thinking in potentials and hypothetics, But once in a while, I have a flash of realism hit my train of thought. I know that I won't always have a day like today, where it all flows so very easily. I was Allie's cheerleader last year, and frequently razzed her about being distracted with coloring books. I know that there are days that I'll be pulling those 1,700 words out like pulling teeth from a crocodile. But there are going to be days that flow like today, too. Where I'll slide past 1,700 words like water over rocks, and just keep going. It all averages out. And as long as I make the 50k mark by November 30th, it's all good.

But that was today.

Tomorrow, I'll go back over that to-do list, and plug dates into everything that didn't get dates already.

Tomorrow, I'll create all the sheets I need to finish before 1 November.

Tomorrow, I'll do more drafting for the blogs, and make sure that I'm well stocked on material I can post while I'm chest deep in the lives of my characters.

2016 nanowrimo creed

Tomorrow, I'll think hard about what I want in my emergency kit for NaNo. Because no one should ever lock themselves in their room to write intensively without having emergency stashes of tea, Twizzlers and frozen pizza. True, I have a wonderful husband that can run to the grocery store for some of these things, but sometimes, I get lost in my little world, and forget until I need it right friggin now! I get hangry when I write intensively. It's a fact. I'd like to spare him my wrath when I get mad at myself for not paying better attention to my needs.

Tonight, he and I had a serious chat about him reminding me to do stupid little stuff. Like get up and eat once in a while, and showering. I was supposed to bathe the dog today, and that kinda got lost while I was busy writing in that sweet little haze. And I didn't notice I was hungry until I realized I was out of water and had to get up to go fill my glass. This is my life as a writer; it's my life as a creatrix. This is how things go when I'm in the grip of my creative genius. He knows I need a little help sometimes to remember to take care of myself and he loves me anyway. This is why I married him: He accepts me as I am, and just goes with the flow when things change.


NaNo is marching up fast. I've still got a lot to do, but I can do this. I can tackle 50,000 words in a month. It's not like climbing Mt. Everest, after all. It's just squiggles on a computer screen. It is breathing life into characters running around in my head, desperate to get out and find life in the world.

NaNo is the next big thing in my life, and I'm going for it, with all I am.

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