Image courtesy of National Novel Writing Month

What Is NaNoWriMo?

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month (ironically this event is international but that’s beside the point). NaNoWriMo takes place every November and is a creative writing challenge in which writers from all over the world attempt to write a 50,000-word novel in a month.

Having participated in NaNoWriMo for the past two years, I can confidently say this is no easy feat! Completing this requires writing an average of 1667 words every day.

The first time I attempted NaNo, I did manage to write a 50,000-word novel and it effectively launched me into the writerly life I have today. But it was tough! There were days when I hit my target word count, days when I could barely manage to write at all, and days I had to catch up to my target.

The second time I tried NaNo, I burnt out after two weeks! I got 34,000 words in and then stalled.

I’m looking forward to seeing what this year brings! I’ll be updating this post throughout November with my progress, thoughts, and word counts. Check back to see how my journey is going. If you’re participating in NaNo as well, feel free to chime in with thoughts or word counts in the comments section. Let’s all cheer each other on. Here’s to a month of progress, whatever that looks like for you.

Image by Nikos Apelaths from Pixabay

November 1, 2022

Well, I don’t remember being nearly so nervous for the last two NaNoWriMos I tried! I’ve got high hopes this year of making it through my second draft of Parallax Error. The first draft is only a novella and I need a lot more words to get it to the right length for a sci-fi/fantasy novel! It will never be a massive tome but I’m aiming for a total of 75,000 to 80,000 words. If I can get even 30,000 more words and a coherent story out of this NaNo I’ll consider that a success!

I’ll be basically re-writing from the first word because my writing style has changed so much over the past couple years and I’ve got big structural-level changes to make (things like creating a stronger character arc and stitching up plot holes).

I LOVE this story though and I am hoping that will carry me through this NaNo. I’m finding it a lot harder to edit an existing manuscript than to start a new one. But I really would like to polish this one up before I move on to another.

Today has been a lot of setting up Scrivener (I thought I had it all set up before but I am apparently a hopeless plotter and needed a bit more structure so I didn’t feel like I was writing into the abyss) and trying to get back into the swing of this story.

I started with the opening, wrote several hundred words but found that I needed to get into the meat of the story to really make any progress. So I skipped ahead to a part near the third plot point.

I was hoping to make more progress than I did today but I am still feeling hopeful about this month so that is a win.

Daily word count: 1686 words

November 2, 2022

Tough day today! Had an exhausting day parenting and was feeling pretty frazzled by the time I made it to my writing lair. Bounced around writing a couple different scenes and spent a fair amount of time doubting myself on which way I want to write this story. I’ve re-written parts so often that this is starting to feel a bit like a choose-your-own-adventure story with all the possible plots. Ha.

Wrote 2155 words today but a good chunk of that was brainstorming and worldbuilding. (Did you know that according to a study from 2020 (Minimum Number of Settlers for Survival on Another Planet) we’d only need 110 people to colonize Mars? Fun fact. Learned something new today.)

Of useable prose, I wrote 953 today so that’s what I’m counting towards my NaNo goal. Hopefully will be feeling less stressed out and better able to write tomorrow.

Daily word count: 953 words (Running total: 2,639 words)

November 3, 2022

I let myself experiment a bit more today rather than trying to follow a rigid structure. I wrote fictional blog posts and news articles to explain the backstory. And it was fun! But I got nowhere near my word count goal today haha. My plans were derailed by spending time with my family and multiple requests for “just one more” bedtime story. Needed that time with my little family. Can always catch up later.

I’m also thinking I might have to re-evaluate how I’m counting progress this NaNoWriMo. My goal is a coherent second draft of my WIP so it might be more beneficial to count progress as number of scenes edited or something like that rather than word count. We’ll see.

Daily word count: 250 words (Running total: 2,889 words)

November 4, 2022

Well, thank the stars I had a day where I hit my goal word count! I switched things up because I was feeling overwhelmed by thinking of my manuscript as a whole and how every change I made would change an infinite number of things in other parts of the manuscript… So instead, today I focused on one single scene, a missing scene that I hadn’t written yet in the first draft. And it worked! (Though for a good part of the evening I was pretty sure it wouldn’t — funny how the inner critic gets in the way like that).

I still have catching up to do tomorrow (I’m 2,050 words behind the target for day four) but I should have a good chunk of writing time tomorrow. Looking forward to it.

Daily word count: 1729 words (Running total: 4,618 words)

Image by pizar almaulidina from Pixabay

November 5, 2022

Another day down! Wrote two alternative scenes to see which way I liked the story better. I found one that feels more true to how the main character would act so that’s a massive win because I’ve been changing my mind a lot on this one.

Wrote a little in the morning, a little in the afternoon, and a chunk in the evening today instead of all in one go.

Daily word count: 1669 words (Running total: 6287 words)

November 6, 2022

Wrote another missing scene. Enjoying the way I’m taking the first act now. It feels more in line with the rest of the story. Though annoyingly, it’s still too short haha. Beginning to wonder if this project really should stay as a shorter novel even though that makes it “less marketable/publishable.” Still working on polishing the storyline but thinking I should pay less attention to the word counts of each scene for now. Undecided.

Meanwhile, contemplating writing the missing scenes of Parallax and then switching to my other work in progress partway through NaNo because NaNoWriMo is designed to help pour out new words rather than edit. We shall see!

Daily word count: 1661 words (Running total: 7948 words)

November 7, 2022

Used today to throw the whole story into a word document and format it as a manuscript so I could see what I’m working with. (I usually write in 4thewords — love that site!). There’s still a couple gaps to fill in (a few scenes that are still a TK to come back to), but the bones of the story are solid. I do believe it’s meant to be a novella!

Daily word count: 1030 words (Running total: 8978 words)

Today was one of those days I had to look back at what I’ve already written to remind myself that I’m even capable of writing. Haha.

November 17, 2022

Well, even with the best of intentions, real life is a factor.

Shoutout to all the people balancing parenting with their passions!

I’ve had to take some time off NaNoWriMo to reevaluate my priorities this month. Parenting is hard! Especially with a kindergartener and three-year-old twins. My writing had to hit the backburner for a little bit to be a fully present parent and that is okay.

This won’t be my year for a 50-thousand-word NaNoWriMo, but I’ve already learned a lot this month about my writerly goals and where I’m at with my various works in progress. 

Biggest realization I’ve had so far this month: Sometimes the best thing to do is walk away and come back to a project later; It’s time for a short break from Parallax. I’ve been working solely on Parallax for about a year and a half and it is time for me to embrace a new project. I need to fall back in love with writing — to enjoy the process rather than the frustration I’m feeling with the editing process.

In the meantime, I’ve started co-plotting/co-writing a cottagecore cozy mystery with a good friend of mine and it is FUN. I’m enjoying the process and loving being able to apply the things I’ve learned about writing over the past couple years.

My revised November writing goal is to finish plotting the murder mystery, start writing it, and enjoy the process. I’ll come back to Parallax Error soon. I can never seem to leave that story for long.

Still cheering on everyone participating in NaNoWriMo this year!

Image by Bogdan Komorowski from Pixabay

November 30th – NaNoWriMo 2022 Wrap Up

Did I meet my word count goal? Nope. This has been a far different November than I was expecting.

For me, this has been a month of reckoning. The biggest lesson for me this year:

It’s okay to fail.

For the past thirty days, I wrestled with my imperfection in almost every area of my life. I battled my depression and anxiety, I felt like a terrible parent for missing my kid’s bus drop-off, I found myself struggling to write during a month when I wanted to be prolific, and I ended up having to re-evaluate everything from what city I live in to how I spend my time.

BUT I learned a lot this month.

For example, don’t try to edit during NaNo. I know many writers can pull this off, but I am not one of them. For me, I think NaNo works best when I’m pouring words into a new project.

I also accomplished more than I can show in a word count. By prioritizing my writing, even though I didn’t reach my NaNo goals, I edited about 15 thousand words of Parallax, wrote almost 10 thousand new words in that same project, co-plotted a murder mystery with a friend, and submitted a piece of micro-fiction (100 words) for consideration to an online microfiction magazine.

Most importantly, I learned to love writing again.

Falling off the word count wagon gave me the freedom to explore different ways of writing. I tried out different perspectives and even tried out a different genre than I normally write. And I enjoyed it.

Image by Falkenpost from Pixabay

Thanks for sticking around for this journey with me. To those of you who completed 50k words this November: Congratulations! And for the rest of us who tried: Congratulations to you too.

Here’s to progress. Whatever that looked like for you.


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