Wednesday, October 31, 2012


As my writer friends know, "NaNoWriMo" isn't the faux-Indian name of a summer camp. Formally, it stands for "National Novel Writing Month," but for me, it means "Your Bluff Has Been Called."

NaNoWriMo is a challenge that encourages participants to write an entire 50,000-word novel, or 50,000 words of a novel to be completed later, in November (why, oh why did they choose a 30-day month, and the one with Thanksgiving in it)?

The point isn't to write deathless prose. The point is to get something on paper that you can then edit into deathless prose. Every day, you upload your work in progress to the site and your word count gets recorded. It's on the honor system; obviously, you could pre-write a novel and upload bits of it every day, or you could type Moby-Dick into the site (there's an option to encrypt your work) and no one would be the wiser. But since there's no prize aside from bragging rights and no way to police it, there's no real reason to cheat.

For years I've said, "Gee, sounds like fun, and I'd do it if the day job didn't take up so much of my time." Well, now I don't have the day job. As I said, my bluff has been called.

So I've signed up. And it starts tomorrow.

My goal: to write every day, excluding Tuesdays (my day off), and Wednesday and Thursday of Thanksgiving week. Hmm. That makes three days off in a rowguess I'll have to add the Tuesday before Thanksgiving back in. Okay, that's 25 days, so 2,000 words/day.

I have a rough idea of what I plan to write, including a one-page summary of the main plot points, characters' names, etc., and even 1,695 words written, which means that I have a bit of a leg up tomorrow.

I'm not very competitive with other people. Once during a marathon Hearts game my siblings refused to let me sit out any hands because they knew that if I was playing, neither of them would come in last; I just didn't care enough about winning to pay attention to what cards had been played. But I am competitive with myself. For instance, I always hesitate a long time before increasing the weights I use when I work out because I know I'll never allow myself to drop back down if they turn out to be too heavy. I'm also hesitant to start a double-crostic puzzle because I've finished every one I've ever started. I know that someday that streak will end, and that will kill me.

So with that attitude I'm pretty sure that I'll hit 50,000 words by the end of the month.

The question is: Will any of it be worth saving?


  1. Good luck, Tracy! Nano is awesome. I've done it three or four times. One of those ended up being a worthwhile book (after MANY revisions), but I know I couldn't have written it without the extreme push that Nano is. Remember this mantra (when you hit day seven and are ready to quit): Quantity, not quality.

    1. I think that's my biggest issue--I'm a "revise as you go" kind of writer, and it will be hard to let go of that. But we all need to shake things up, right?

    2. Nano may cure you of "revise as you go." It cured me. I am a totally different kind of writer from how I was before. Trust the process, as they say.

  2. Good luck Tracy! Two of my novels began as NaNoWriMo projects. It's a great kick in the tush! :) e

    1. Good to know, E! And a kick in the tush is EXACTLY what I need.

  3. You should play Hearts with me--you'd win! I have the same lack of competitive instinct. Good luck with the new novel!