National Novel Writing Month

It’s official, I’m a winner of National Novel Writing Month!


For those of you have haven’t heard of National Novel Writing Month (otherwise known as Nanowrimo) here’s the scoop: in the month of November, write 50,000 words or about 200 pages. It doesn’t have to be good. It doesn’t have to be a final draft. It just has to be new words, written on a story, in the 30 days in November. To be a winner, you have to meet the 50,000 word goal.

I made it! I hit 50,215 words on the morning of November 30. The story wasn’t quite finished, so I kept writing for the rest of the week. I finished the first draft of the novel last Monday. It clocks in at just over 54,000 words (about 220 pages), but I have more to add as I revise. I’ll dive in to the second draft in January, once I can see straight again.

The most striking lesson for me from Nanowrimo was that it forced me to take my writing out into the world in a way that hadn’t happened before. Sure, I’ve written at coffee shops and while traveling, but this has been the exception, not the rule. My habit is to write in the morning, at home.  If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen, and that writing day is gone. With Nanowrimo, I couldn’t afford to lose any days. I needed to write in the morning, yes, but if I didn’t get far enough into my daily word count, I needed to write after dinner, or before, or whenever I could find fifteen minutes and a keyboard.

And so I did!  In the month of November, I wrote:

  • In the mornings, at my desk.
  • In the evenings, exhausted from just starting a new job, with a keyboard in my lap and a dog curled up by my side.
  • At Powell’s Bookstore because I still had 30 minutes left on my parking meter after an afternoon meeting.
  • At my local library because I just had to get out of the house.
  • At my friend’s house the day after Thanksgiving, both of us up early, he working on a presentation, me typing typing typing.
  • In the car while my husband was driving.  Or while it was parked.
  • At Burgerville, while my husband was running errands.
  • At my parents’ dining room table.
  • On my sister’s couch, tapping out as many words as I could before other people woke up.

This taught me that writing can happen anywhere, anytime. The muse shows up because I’ve shown up. Writing doesn’t have to be a sacred act that can only happen when the stars are aligned and the tea is hot and the phone is off. It can happen when it’s raining and I’m tired and the day has already been long. It happens because it has to.

And now it is December. I’ve given myself this month to play, to enjoy friends and family over the holidays, to submit stories and write blog posts (this one!) and maybe dabble in finishing a flash fiction or two. And then in January, the revising will start. Maybe it will happen at my desk in the mornings… maybe not. But it will happen. It has to.