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This November a yearly writing journey begins for thousands of aspiring novelists. National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo” was created years ago as a way for struggling writers to finally put a time limit on their dreams and commits them to finishing a novel in an international group effort.  Ideally, this would be one of the fabled Great American Novels. But, as any true writer knows, just having a completed manuscript is worth all the gold in the world. The goal is to write a 50,000 word novel in  the span of one month: November. That breaks down to about 1600 words a day. Sounds simple enough, right?

The writers that I’ve heard about who are able to work on this project literally start the day with a pot of coffee at Starbucks and sit in front of their laptops writing and writing and writing themselves insane. They take brief bathroom breaks, I believe. But not too long as to avoid any procrastination with buying more coffee. Or eaves dropping on another writer. Or doubting their work. Or wondering where their plot lines are going. Or wondering if they really have plot lines. Or plot points. Or becoming unsure if their work is a science fiction romance or a simple down home cookbook.

For years I always dreamed of writing a book. I mean, how romantic would it be to be part of a creative wave of writing energy, inspired by the dedication others around you have with pushing themselves forward to completion? Thinking this was the push I finally needed, since we all know writing in solitude can be tortuous, I went so far as to sign up for local chapters of NaNoWriMo a few different times in the past. Why not? A) It’s a global event B) that is free (just the right price for writers) and 3) it gives people the opportunity to get caught up in the creative updraft of a million pounding keyboards. Destiny? Finished book.Reality? Hmmmm….the idea looks good on paper.

Sadly, the furthest I’ve ever made it into NaNoWriMo was the actual signing with my local chapter before the event begins. Usually it is in September or October that I convince myself “This Is The Year I Will Write That Damned Book!” Must be the changing of the seasons, or the back to school mode, or Fall is just so darn inspiring. Anyway, as the days got closer to the November First start date every year, my email inbox would start to explode with emails of NaNoWriMo deadlines, inspiration, encouragement and tales of other’s writing success.

Let me explain that the idea of a writer toiling away in a creative frenzy doesn’t include the actual reality of many writers: Family. Jobs. Commitments. The day-to-day grind of washing dishes, preparing meals, keeping your loved ones clean, and who can ignore the daily “must do’s” of scrubbing the floors and curling up into a fetal position and crying? Please. And so on. These are the necessities of keeping life functioning and moving forward. Unless you are young and not married or without kids or are in a position to be able to dedicate thirty days to doing nothing other than writing, drinking coffee, writing, going to the bathroom, hallucinating. Not that there is anything wrong with this. This is my dream life if I ever win the lottery. No doubt.

But, back to reality. I am encouraged that so many aspiring authors are able to partake in this NaNoWriMo journey. However, I’m feeling the pain of the aspiring authors who aspire to be able to participate in NaNoWriMo one day. Sitting down to the keyboard is a luxury I treasure between breaking up fights among my kids, washing dishes, doing laundry, working, paying bills and staring out my front window onto the bounty that is my cul-de-sac in the middle of nowhere.

So, this year I’ve decided this year to expand on the idea of NaNoWriMo….I am starting an offshoot program called NaNoWriSlo. Yes, it is the National Novel Writers (who write) Slowly club. Our goal is also to produce a 50,000 word novel, but it is at a more practical pace – between five to eighty-two words a day/week. At this rate your novel will be complete in about maybe a couple a years or so? It depends.  You might not finish it at all. And that is also ok. This group will be very supportive, and encouraging, but also very realistic. A daily schedule for the first day might go something like this:

  • Morning: Make coffee, sit down at key board. Enjoy sitting down for a minute. Time to check email.
  • Mid morning: Update Facebook status: “Just started NaNoWriSlo…WOOOO! Don’t count me out John Steinbeck!”
  • Late Morning: Clean bathroom and start dishes.
  • Lunch: lunch
  • Early Afternoon: Refreshed and ready to go! Start typing outline. After seeing what that crash was from upstairs.
  • Mid Afternoon: Call Plumber to fix toilet damaged earlier when book shelf fell onto it somehow. Or that’s the story your kids are going with.
  • Late Afternoon: Coffee time! Also time to go to the store to get food for dinner.
  • Homework: Plan to start Outline tomorrow, first thing. For real this time.

So, our group will start around November first-ish, and go on until you think you’ve finished your work, whatever form that may be in. No pressure. At all. Or not even. We’re mellow like that. And if you do manage to finish something following the strict guidelines above, you will become the face of the NaNoWriSlo international campaign I will start-up. Just as soon as I can get up from this nice comfortable chair.


About Fortyteen Candles

oh, let's see...distinguished Gen-X'er, frustrated writer, suffocating in the confines of a small town that thinks it's a big deal. A few years ago we were home to the second largest Walmart in our state, don-cha-know. Oh, and I was voted "Most New Wave" in my senior high school year book. Actually, that last sentence alone is really everything you need to know about me.

18 responses »

  1. You know, a double spaced page in size 12 Times Roman is about 250 words. If you write 5 pages a week (two days off!) in 4 weeks you have (excuse me while I check the calculator…) 5000 words per month. That’s 50,000 in one school year. Absolutely do-able!

    My own first novel was written with a 25 page a week goal, which worked well for me. At first I just wanted to ‘write something every day’ but after 3 weeks, I noticed I was doing 25 pages a week, so I just decided to keep that pace. If I didn’t have the goal achieved by Friday, I made sure I did it over the weekend. I finished 155,000 words in 6 months, while working full-time and acting (usually just Tuesday evenings) as president of my Rotary Club.

    I love the inspiring stories of J.K Rowling and Stephenie Meyer fitting in their writing between babies and swim meets, etc. Mind you, it’s so ridiculously easy to be distracted! I have a blog post about this but the best thing in it is the link at the end to Outlander author Diana Gabaldon’s day in 1992 when she was smack in the middle of ‘life’ while working out a plot puzzle. Fascinating reading.

    We can do it, yes we can! We can NaNoWri in SloMo and get!it done! 🙂 Remember, first drafts don’t have to be good. They just have to be written!

    (and now I’m going to go back to that editing/re-writing I’m completely procrastinating over. Really. 20 days until I meet with a New York agent. It must be ready.

    Quit procrastinating.



    Oh! I like your blog! 🙂 Thanks for coming by mine! I appreciate your dropping in.

    Writing. Right. Back to it.

    • You are very inspiring!! It makes sense to break it down like you have. I am also encouraged to read stories about other authors who somehow managed to complete a manuscript while also raising kids and dealing with hectic lives. Woo Hoo on you meeting with your agent! Good luck to you, and please let me know how everything turns out with your manuscript. Thank you for your comments, and for liking my blog too 🙂 Now I’m back to work….

  2. How funny you should write this post today of all days. I have been toying with the idea of a novel, well forever, and have never come up with even the roughest outline of a plot. Therefore, NaNoWriMo was never really an option unless the novel was to be about someone facing a blank screen. That I could finish in minutes.

    But today I figured it out and was thinking of taking on NaNoWriMo. But I have a husband, kid (who is in college, but still), a dog, and a blog. Plus, as a political junkie how could I give over the first week of November to a novel.

    You gave me the perfect sollution! Pressure without quite so much pressure. But incentive. I’m in! Where do I sign up?

    • Ha Ha Ha…I wish I had the motivation to start such a club! Seriously, we are all in this together. Start your outline and check in here for support/encouragement. I’ll do the same. I have a really great outline in my head. Or an artist’s rendition of what a good outline might look like, at least. 😉

      • Well I did get going a bit. It’s a start!

        As for motivation to start something, save it for your story. But it’s nice to know I’m not the only one

  3. Teresa Cleveland Wendel

    Can I write a long-ish short story?

    • Yes. And it doesn’t even have to have an ending. A good, or well-intended, first chapter, or outline of one…or sketches, or thoughts about a well-intended first chapter would be sufficient for this project.

  4. Lovely, encouraging! Can’t take “off” from life for a Mo, Slo much better. Thanks!

  5. This post made me laugh! My entire family keeps telling me to write a book, but life gets in the way and, well, I feel like I have absolutely nothing to write about. Inspiration usually comes right before bed and by that time I just don’t want to get out of bed for fear the dog will take over my spot. Haha!

  6. My daughter has written 7 novels during NaNoWriMo. The thing I admire about her is that she actually does it. It’s not about writing a GOOD novel. It’s simply about proving to herself that she can write 50,000 words. Over the years, she has been more, or less, pleased with her efforts. The important thing is that her confidence in being to accomplish a goal has had favorable repercussions in other areas of her life as well. She’s looking forward to this year’s challenge bringing with her the lessons she’s learned from previous years. Perhaps this year, I’ll even be allowed to read it!

    As for me, for now I’ll continue enjoying others’ writings – that includes yours! xoM

  7. I’m a natural for a ‘slow writing’ project. I wrote the ending of my ‘novel’ years ago. Just never managed to write the bits that lead up to that point 😳

  8. notedinnashville

    I love this idea! I am the queen of slow writing. 1,000 words a day my eye! I’m killing myself at 100 words a day.

  9. I Want In! Just Sayin’ I’ll take minutes…count them in my daily word count…then publish them as mimi tragedies. yes? cool. This meeting will now come to order. Oh, sorry, that’s YOUR line, I’m just writing down what you say. cheers!

  10. The only way to write a novel is to figure out your own way. If NaNoWriMo works for you, great! If not, make your own program–but the key is to stick to it. I stared with the modest goal of writing at least two hours a week, but once the momentum got going, I added hours and days until the book took shape. Four years later, I’m several revisions into my manuscript and I have no intent of stopping until it’s the right book. But I had to sort out my own program and not wimp out on it. Slow and steady *will* win the race!

  11. This is year four for me on Nanowrimo. My experience is different from what you described. Some days I write less, and on other days I do more. Towards the end I crank it up to complete the project… Best wishes and lets connect if you’re joining. My name is ElizOF on Nano. 😉

    • Thanks for stopping by! I wish I had time for NaNoWriMo. Maybe when my kids are off to college. I barely have time to keep up with my blogs! I wish you the best of luck with it, though. Please stop by again and update me on how it is going!


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