November 1, 2017

National Novel Writing Month or Shut Up and Write

"It's the second most wonderful time of the year...🎶" - Me singing about Nano

What is Nano you may ask? It's National Writing Month which takes place every November during which a crazed group of writers risk carpel tunnel and even worse, writer's block, to create 50,000 words of a novel that they may or may not do something with eventually. It's scary, it's crazy, it's exhausting. At times it's humiliating. I love it.

I first heard about Nano when I saw someone scribbling furiously at the counter when I used to work weekends at a bookstore. His brow was furrowed, his face intense and his eyes looked like he hadn't slept in 3 days.

"What choo doing?" I asked.
"National Novel Writing Month. Gotta write 50,000 words", he replied, not looking up.
"Why?" I inquired innocently.
He blinked and then looked up from his sheet. "To write a novel."
A couple of years later I finally decided to take the plunge (I couldn't remember the month it started so I had missed it before). During my first attempt I wrote 3000 words, then quit. The next year I discovered the social element of Nano and started attending write-ins which helped me since I'm one of those weird writers who likes having people around (yeah I know, no hate mail please). 

I wrote 50,000 words. It sucked.

What did I write about? Well I decided to "pants" it which means I had no idea or plot going into it so I started out with a story about a young girl who could draw images that would come to life, then I changed it to a haunted house and by the middle of the month, the whole thing had become about half-vampires. The plot got so bad that I pretty much reveled in making horrible things happen to each and every character. By the end of the novel I realized that a 12-year old character had gotten off scot-free without being punished for my poor writing. So I made her eat a cat.
In my defense, she was half vampire. Also that part was the best written scene in my book.

After that untitled fiasco, I deleted my entire Nano account and started again. The year after I fared much better by having at least some vague idea going in and had a book that eventually I might edit and do something with (what a concept).

Every year since then I look forward to National Novel Writing Month with a sense of glee because it does the impossible and actually forces me to sit still and write. And I have fun. I enjoy reading the forums, I enjoy talking to other people about their stories. And yes, when I can make them, I love the write-ins (although the 'I like people' part of me probably irritates those who actually wish I would stop talking so they can write).
The other cool thing about Nano is there's so many different types of stories. Mine lean towards the speculative/horror, but there's fantasy, there's sci-fi, there's drama and romance. It doesn't matter what you write as long as you're writing it. And there's a certain sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing you wrote 50,000 words you hadn't before. Even if you hate them, you wrote them.

What's my novel this year? A college-age girl and a Mormon man who decide they need to deviate from their goody-two shoes behavior and do bad things. I think I'm throwing a demon in there too, because why not? I've entitled this masterpiece "Eva and Evan Decide to be Evil" because at least with that title, you know what you're in for.

Do you Nano? Drop a comment below and let me know what you're writing this year. You can also find me on the Nano site:

And if you don't Nano, what's stopping you? 


  1. Good luck with your novel, Cheryl! Or, as Jimmie Walker might say, make it "NAN-O-MITE!"

  2. YOU! :D Thanks. I don't know how it will turn out this year but I usually don't hit my stride until the middle of the month.


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