Wednesday, November 1, 2017

#IWSG: NaNoWriMo and Me

It's the first Wednesday! Which means IWSG Day. Today's question: Win or not, do you usually finish your NaNo project? Have any of them gone on to be published?

After you see what I have to say, be sure to check out other posts and our lovely and generous co-hosts:  Tonja Drecker, Diane Burton, MJ Fifield, and Rebecca Douglass!
I love NaNoWriMo. One of my struggles as a writer is persevering when I hit a wall. I can dither FAR too long over small details and stall moving forward on the big picture. In fact, that's what I did for the first forty-two years of my life (okay, I probably wasn't writing much in the first six to ten years): I started things. But finished none. My daily writing habit, my critique group, and NaNoWriMo have all been a part of helping me start finishing things and see them into print.

I'm a four-time participant and three-time winner of National Novel Writing Month. Every year I think I can't do it in November: 50, 000 words during a school month? But then we hit upon the idea of ordering our Thanksgiving dinner from Weaver Street Market and suddenly, I had Veteran's Day, and a four day weekend full of writing time. I can do a lot with a day off school.

In 2013, I wrote the first draft of Cold Spring, a historical women's fiction book which will, someday when I finish it, become a historical fiction trilogy.  Though I feel good about the first book, I'm going to need to devote some serious time to historical research before I can finish this set of novels and I feel like I can't really send it out there for publication consideration until I've finished all three.

In 2014, I wrote the first draft of a middle grade novel: Rat Jones and the Lacrosse Zombies, which I also plan to return to and whip into publishing shape. I still really love Rat, my main character. She just hasn't won the fight to the top of my to-do list again yet.

In 2015 I didn't win, but I wrote 30,000 words towards the book I finished as my 2016 project: Face the Change: Book 3 of the Menopausal Superhero series, which was published in summer 2017!

This year, I'm working on Thursday's Children, a new project (YA dystopian romance). I began the project his summer, hoping to submit it a novella into a book bundle some friends were putting out in September. But the story stalled, and clearly wants to be a longer, fully realized novel and not a novella. I've spent October thinking and planning and seeking feedback on the parts I've already written and I'm going in confident that I can finish this sucker in November. I'm a little nervous since my parents are coming to visit, which will leave me with less time, but my attitude is that even if I don't "win," I'll have more words than I would have gotten otherwise. I'll be that much closer to those magical words: THE END.

So, I don't know if four times qualifies me to speak to what I "usually" do. But I am a finisher, and I do plan to see all these books onto shelves and into digital readers.

What NaNoWriMo does for me is apply some external pressure to move faster, even when the project doesn't have a publisher waiting. It makes me write through, over, and around things rather than just closing the computer for the night when I get stuck. It shuts down my internal editor and charges forward, jumping canyon sized plot holes and knocking down doubts. The camaraderie of knowing that others are sharing the struggle at the same time as me helps. It's all over social media all month which builds excitement and a feeling of being a part of something larger.

What it doesn't do is give me a publishable draft. But revision is my friend. In fact, I LOVE revision (most of the time). I love taking my bare passionate lines and shaping and polishing them into fully realized stories with flow, pacing, and arcs. Now that I've traveled this road a few times, I understand how to revise my work effectively, and faster than I used to.

So, once more into the breach, my friends! See you on the other side!

If you're not already following #IWSG (Insecure Writer's Support Group), you should really check it out. The monthly blog hop is a panoply of insight into the writing life at all stages of hobby and career. Search the hashtag in your favorite social media venue and you'll find something interesting on the first Wednesday of every month.


  1. Hey, not a lot of people can call themselves a NANOWRIMO "finisher". That's awesome. One day, I'll finish a NANOWRIMO project, but not this year. This year I'm a NANOWRIMO "procrastinator"... :-D

    I love the book covers for your series. I'm going to check them out.

    Good luck on NANOWRIMO!!

    1. Thanks! I *love* these covers, too. I feel really lucky to have gotten such good covers.

  2. That's how I view NaNo, too. Even if I don't manage a win, I will have gotten (in theory, anyway) a good chunk of story done, which in itself is a win.

    Best of luck to you this month!

  3. Your success with NaNo is fantastic. You've found what works for you. Good luck this year!

  4. I'm with you: I love the revision stage. The fact that you've published so many novels while working as a teacher make you a super-hero. I wrote lots during my teaching years, but not consistently--the job's just too demanding.

    1. Thanks! It's definitely been difficult, but worth it. I figure I won't ever actually see retirement, so it's good to have career I can do even as I get older.

  5. I'm sitting on the fence about NaNoWriMo right at this very moment. My one NaNoWriMo success was a novel that had a great first half and a really bad second half. Half a good novel is better than no novel at all, I guess. And I have had a project at the back of my mind... Do I dare?

  6. Good luck with your book and NaNo!

  7. I didn't start writing in earnest until I retired -- and now I'm just finishing my 3rd historical novel. I do research before and during the writing -- and sometimes during the revision stages. Love the titles you've begun -- and finished! Thanks for sharing your writing and NaNo experiences. Have a great month!

  8. Good luck with your NaNo project. It's the second time I'm participating.

  9. Wouldn't call myself a finisher. I mainly use NaNoWriMo to push out as much as possible the NaNo story in my head. This is my 4th year, started in 2013 but skipped in 2014 to do Nina Amir's November nonfiction writing challenge. This year my NaNo novel is the sequel to my 2015 NaNo novel. So my other writing projects, also NaNo novels, are on hold. But I plan to finish them all, however ling it'll take me.