Writing with NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month occurs every year in November. Since 1999, it has grown from 21 San Francisco Bay writers to more than 325,000 worldwide participants (trivia item: Water for Elephants was a NaNoWriMo writing project!). In Bloomington, 35 novelists joined the local on-line group this year, and there may have been more who worked without joining the official group.

I was one of the official writers, starting on November 1 to attempt to write 50,000 words of a novel by November 30. By about November 5, it became clear that much creativity was seeping from me–and going toward finding things to do at the computer that did not involve writing!

The biggest thing I did to fill my writing time with non-writing was to book the flight, rental car, and hotels for our winter vacation coming up in March. This was a great excuse, because this has to be done in November, because the MLB Spring Training schedules come out then, and as soon as they do, the hotels in and flights to Phoenix start going up in price and booking up. Since I spend lots of time finding the best hotel locations and deals, I ended up spending almost as much time online doing this job as I did writing in November.

The second creative way I found to avoid writing was to work instead on my Top 100 lists for rock music, which is, I justified, another one of my 60th Birthday Bucket List items. When I write, I put on music, so it only made sense that while I listened, I started adding the songs I heard to my list. Well, the list soon split into two lists, one for rock and one for country music, and so I got very busy coming up with 200 of my most favorite songs while I pretended to be spending that time writing.

Thirdly, I put in a good bit of time cyber-hunting for one of my junior high friends so that she can be the one to fulfill my Bucket List item “call an old friend.” See! I wasn’t wasting writing time, I was working on my bucket list! I think I found her, and I sent a letter to an address I found for her, but 10 days after I sent it, I got a letter from the current resident at that address saying she had moved and providing me with a possible forwarding address. Very nice of that person to take the time to write me back about this undeliverable letter.

Computer gargoyle

I did write more than letters to old friends, however. My word total at the end of the month for my young adult novel tentatively titled “Things That Must Never Be Told,” was 20,507. This was of course not a winning number (you have to top 50,000 to win), but it placed me 19th among the 35 Bloomington writers and got me to about the halfway point in the plot I have planned for the book.

It was a marvelous experience, in fact. The NaNoWriMo.com website is a great motivator where you record your word totals each day. After you do, the site gives you your statistics–how many words per day you are averaging, how many words per day you now need to write to make 50,000 on time, when you will finish your novel if you continue writing at your current pace, and other such information.

There are writer forums for the local group, and I enjoyed reading about the other Bloomingtonians pounding away at the keyboard with me. Several times the NaNoWriMo site sent pep talks from well-known writers, and our local group leader also set up “write-ins” and sent her own pep talks. Overall, whether one finishes the 50,000 words or not, the event creates a sense of there being a community of people like you all working together toward this goal.

On November 30, the site told me that at my current pace, I would finish the novel on January 10, 2016. So, I now have a new target date. Wonder what I can find to do (besides Christmas activities) to miss that deadline!