NaNoWriMo in Review

Dec 1, 2009

nano_09_winner_100x10055,269 words in 28 days.

I can’t believe it. I started November 1st with a blank page, a novel idea and a goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month. The first few days I pounded the pavement like an enthusiastic runner at the beginning of a race. By day three I was well ahead of my daily word count goal. This is a piece of cake, I thought …

And that’s precisely when NaNoWriMo started to feel more like giving birth to a hippopotamus.


After a week-ish of word-birthing agony, I found my groove. Like it or not, I pushed myself to hit my daily word count threshold. It was still tough at times, but ideas started to flow as I stepped into the story, rather than writing about it from a distance. Soon I discovered that 1,667 words a day isn’t nearly as difficult if I unleash creativity to do what it does best.

Would I do NaNoWriMo again, even if this half-finished novel never makes it to a printed page? Absolutely, and here are a few of the reasons why:

  1. I used to think of myself as a non-fiction writer only. Hehehe … not any more. Fiction is a trip! You can travel anywhere you want, be in a terrible mood if you want, take out your frustrations on your characters, and it doesn’t cost a thing. Who wouldn’t love that?!?!?!
  2. I learned how to write creatively, rather than critically (a.k.a. I told my perfectionist internal editor to shut up. And she listened for once.)
  3. I now understand that a first draft is supposed to be crap. The crap gives me something to do on the second and third drafts. Otherwise I’d eventually get bored.
  4. I learned to set some firm boundaries on email, FB, twitter and other time-suckers. This freed up both the time and emotion needed for writing (and everything else).
  5. I discovered I’m capable of writing a whole lot more per day than I once thought. The last day I wrote between 3,000 and 4,000 words. BEFORE 11AM!
  6. A few of us met each Friday to write and drink warm beverages, which taught me that friendship and accountability make the writing life both fun and productive.

November 2009 was a good month, and I’m already planning on 2010. How about you? You have 11 months to get ready … Whaddya think?


  1. mandythompson

    this is amazing. Amazing. I think you nanowrimo people are CRAZY for taking up such a challenge. But, then, y’all seem to creep up to the finished line and it amazes me! wow. I have an IRL friend – and first-time writer – who knocked out here 50,000 a week before Thanksgiving. Stunning.

    I LOVE the creative push. And totally get #2 & #3 on your list.

    But can you do some elaboration of #4? I seriously need help with that. ugh.

  2. Warren Baldwin

    Hi. Linked here from FB. I saw this challenge but didn’t give it serious thought, even though I’ve always wanted to write a novel, too. I’ve been reading some fiction-writing blogs and it seems like such a totally different genre (which, of course, it is). Writing nonfiction right now is taking enough time/energy. But, your post made me think I ought to give it a try. Good post, and congrats on cranking out so much material.

  3. Chrystie

    So excited that you met/exceeded your goal! That’s awesome! It gives me hope that Ican do it. I love that you set limits on FB, twitter, etc. I truly need to learn how to do that. They are not my passion. Writing is my passion. They just get in the way all too often. But, I am so glad to have met you via those avenues!

    I love, too, your statement that your first draft is supposed to be crap. That is a lesson I still need to learn/internalize.

    You are an inspriation! Congrats on NaNoWriMo!!!

  4. Michele

    Ah, how nice! Thank you. Honestly, I wasn’t sure I could do it. You know, work, three boys, life, the holidays … 50,000 words??? I surprised myself. 🙂 Thanks for cheering!

    M, as for #4 … well, that there is a work in progress. Sometimes I struggle with it big time, other days not so much (those are rare). I’m always afraid I’m going to miss something if I go offline, but what I’m discovering is that I’m missing more by being online all the time. Like rich moments of solitude. The journey of my own thoughts. The simple moments of being with my family, undivided in my attention. I started by getting rid of my iPhone. That was BIG. Now I have an old phone with text only. Sometimes I turn the wireless off on my Mac or go somewhere that doesn’t have wireless, which helps. But ultimately, I’m having to admit that the internet and my connection with people, although good in moderation, has become an idol that is interfering with real communion in life. I’m not nearly as creative when I’m snacking on the internet all day long. Although relationships fuel some of my creativity, the most inspirational moments are when everything else is silenced and I can finally hear whispers of the voice of God.

    Does that help? Oh, and my next step???? Only checking email 2 or 3 times a day. Wow. That one might kill me.

  5. alece

    i’d hug you if i could. that is no small feat you accomplished! must’ve felt SO GOOD — such a victory!!!

    i loved hearing the lessons you learned along the way…

  6. Michele

    Thanks, Alece! Come to Colorado so I can hug YOU!


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