NaNoWriMo Week One: Six Lessons

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1.  Writing a novel is hard.  

Okay, so I knew this already, but it’s hard in ways I didn’t expect.  The story came easily enough, as did the characters and the key scenes that had to take place.  The problem is all the rest.

Dialogue.  Point of View.  Continuity.  Clarity.  Back Story.  And the dreaded Setting.  I suck at setting.  It is so important and if you choose a real place, you darn well better do your research.  Research?  You bet.

What is the height requirement of a Rockette? **

You’d be amazed by what I’ve looked up this week.

**Answer:  Between 5′ 6″ and 5′ 10 1/2″ in stocking feet.

2.  I am an incurable editor.

The whole idea of NaNo is to write with reckless abandon, either ignoring or celebrating the sheer crapiness that inevitably comes out of your head.  I can do that, to an extent.  However, today I deleted 459 words because they were junk.  I have some pride.

I correct all spelling errors because my browser underlines them in red.  I can’t ignore that. When I think of something I should add, I do it.  I can’t remember my own children’s names half the time.  I’m certainly not going to remember, in January, to add that super awesome part I thought of in the checkout line at Kroger that one time to the part I wrote on the night we had chicken for dinner way back in November.

3.  There’s no way I’m posting this thing anywhere on Dec. 1.  

“Ooh, I can’t wait to read it!” I get that a lot.  Well, trust me, you can and you will.  This is a massive free-writing exercise.  Glorified pre-writing stuff.  It’s not even a real first draft, which I wouldn’t show to anyone either.  Again, I have some pride.

4.  I am a creator and a listener.

Rebekah Loper, a seasoned NaNo, wrote a post asking the question, “Do you create, or do you listen?”  Basically, do you decide what your characters will do and say or do you let them tell the story?  My response:   “I’m a creator.  After all, they’re my creations.  How can they do anything other than what I want them to do?”  I don’t know how, but they do.  I start a scene with an idea and somewhere along the way, that idea goes out the window, and I find myself in unchartered territory.  I beg, “Please don’t do that.  That’s not how this is supposed to play out.”  Do they listen?  No, they go right ahead and do it.  “Okay then, but you’ll regret this when you see what happens next.”  See?  Listener and creator.

5. Nobody you know in “real” life wants to hear about your NaNo progress.

Honestly, I wouldn’t either if I didn’t know what NaNo was before my friend/cousin/uncle/sister started blathering on about it.  I’ve decided to keep my progress to myself and anyone who happens to read my blog, is my friend on Facebook, or follows me on Twitter.

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6.  Writing a novel is easier than I thought.

No Muse.  No bleary-eyed, middle of the night, frantic scribblings to get down that idea that came to me in a dream.  I’m not drunk all the time.  I’m not doing drugs, aside from healthy doses of nicotine and caffeine.  I’m not depressed.  I’m not mentally ill and I’m not suicidal.  So, my chances of being anthologized in a future American Lit. text-book are not good.   I’m okay with that.

I think a lot.  I sit.  I type.  Grammar, spelling, plausibility.


I’m writing a novel.


It’s your turn.  Anyone doing NaNo or writing a novel learn anything this week?  I’d love to hear about it.




30 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Week One: Six Lessons

  1. No, but Mr O and I are DETERMINED to sit down this weekend and start capturing his childhood for our memoir. I think once I get past that barrier, I will on my way – although my reading may suffer!

  2. And this made me REALLY laugh!!!

    “I’m not drunk all the time. I’m not doing drugs, aside from healthy doses of nicotine and caffeine. I’m not depressed. I’m not mentally ill and I’m not suicidal. So, my chances of being anthologized in a future American Lit. text-book are not good. I’m okay with that.” No fun at all, are you? 😆 😆

    • I’m desperately boring. 🙂

      I hope you and Mr. O get a lot of work done and you get over the hurdle. Really, sitting down and doing it has been the hardest part. Good luck!

  3. Characters will do that to you. I had one of my characters do something AWFUL, that pissed me off… But that he had to do. It ended up being my favorite plotline to follow. I figure if you’ve created someone full bodied and real, they’ll swerve in a direction you don’t want them to but that they have to for the sake of realism. Figuring out the fall out is the best part.

    • So glad someone understood that. It’s sneaks up on you! Everything is going according to plan, and then a block of dialogue or a minor event changes everything. It’s frustrating and exciting all at the same time.

  4. I’m definitely not thinking as much as you are. I’m just pushing on. I don’t fix spelling errors either. I guess I’m ok with absolute crap, as long as I keep going. I’ve actually put a few notes in parenthesis within a chapter. They usually read (come back and figure something out). Ya, I don’t really know how this is going to go. You’re right, no-one wants to hear about our progress. Well, my kids ask me everyday. That’s someone! I’m just scared I’ll make it to 40,000 words and won’t be able to finish. That’s my biggest fear. Good luck to you! I’m cheering for ya. 🙂

  5. You tease! Now I really can’t wait to read what it is your characters are running away with which to me is real progress – not to me personally because it just is not happening with me and my attempts at the nanoyouknowwhat. I am citing a difficult relationship with my dentist as the latest in a long line of good/bad, excuses/reasons. Well done you and keep up the good work!

  6. I did not get brave enough to try this. Maybe next time. How in the world do you know the exact number of words you deleted? haha!

    • I’m using Scrivener writing software (I adore it) and I can divide my writing into sessions. There’s a handy little word counter and a special progress bar, just for NaNo. Maybe you can do it next year. You are going to school now. That is more important!

  7. I’m not going to even try NaNoWriMo…..I am surprised I have kept up my Post-a-Day Challenge when I am such a procrastinator that to try to write a novel in a month would be asking too much…..but I DO want to write a novel some day…..

    • It’s not for everyone. I did the post-a-day thing when I first started my blog and that is a challenge. Coming up with different material every day is harder than continuing on one subject every day. I’ve been saying I wanted to write a novel forever. NaNo pushed me to finally do it. It’s an awesome and scary experience.

  8. Pingback: NaNoWriMo: Keeping Momentum in Week Two | Write On Edge

    • I hope it’s my mixed CD. I’m using Pandora right now, which is surprisingly good, but the songs are already starting to repeat. Thank you so much for doing this. You are very sweet. How are things with you?

  9. Congrats on surviving week one! Week two might be a little tough, but as soon as you get past that and start working for the downhill side, you will be surprised at how quickly the words start pouring out of you.

    As for research searches . . . my NaNo-ers and I joke that we’re surprised we’re not on any government watch lists XD.

    • Ha! I’m actually having a really good second week. Most of my planning dealt with the middle, so I’m finally into familiar territory. Cranked out 3000 words in a couple of hours today, with breaks. 🙂 Still going. (I’m on a cookie baking break right now.)

  10. Pingback: Writing again, finally | Love versus Goliath : A Partner Visa Journey

  11. Hm, the most important thiing I learned from a fellow writer in the first week was, that this is my novel and I can do whatever I damn well want with it. I was a bit concerned about the historical content and the places I wanted to put in and she told that I could just write in whatever I needed. Atfer all if someone reads it afterwards they want to read the story, who cares if there was a theatre in Toulouse in 10 BC or not?

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