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To NaNo or Not to NaNo

For the past couple years, I’ve dedicated my Novembers to NaNoWriMo — National Novel Writing Month. I’ve committed to writing an average of 1700 words/day no matter what, even when that meant writing in the Reykjavik airport.

My novels haven’t exactly been readable — I’m not sure how anything banged out that quickly could be — but they’ve been therapeutic. Writing fiction is like cross-training for my songwriting. I still have to pull out details, create compelling stories and relatable characters, just in a different format. And with the tight deadline, I have no choice but to put my Inner Critic aside in the name of Getting Things Done. That daily exercise has helped me to better recognize my little gremlin and be more aware of how it affects other areas of my life.

In 2013, I wrote a darkly funny novel about teenagers stuck at abstinence camp when a virus wipes out the world’s population. The original, happy-ish story arc, where the main character and her love interest ride off into the sunset, only got me to 40,000 words, so the novel subsequently took a very dark turn to reach 50,000. In 2014, I built a universe around my predictions about the future of the music business, but my heroine was so boring that I abandoned her story halfway through once 50,000 words hit. In both cases, lessons were learned. I was very glad that I stuck with it to “win.”

This year, however, I face a dilemma. In the second half of November, I’ll be spending ten days with my parents. They’re meeting me in New York and then we’re going on to Paris together. I speak French semi-fluently and they’ve never been to Europe, so this will be a fun opportunity to play tour guide and parent to my parents. But I can’t imagine I’ll be getting much writing done while I’m with them. That means, to win, I’d have to complete my novel by November 20. 2500 words/day. And because of Make Your Things, not only will I be writing, those 2500 words/day, but I’ll also be writing about writing. Oy.

And I don’t even know what I want to write about. The last two novels were based around very specific concepts, but the things on my mind right now are quite broad: love and the nature of self. (Wait, that brings to mind the Invisibilia episode about mirror touch synesthesia — perhaps I can revisit that. Hmm.)

It’s going to be quite an uphill battle. But will it be worth doing? Yes. Even if I don’t win? Yes. When else will I force myself to dedicate my sacred, creative mornings to actually doing creative things?

Sounds like I’ve got a lot of prep work to do.

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