Personal Writing Challenge

I’ve been jealous of so-called NaNo-ers for the past couple of years.  I had never heard of NaNo until I had a baby (the cute, time intensive, pick-me-up-or-I’ll-cry all-night-long kind) and a brand new class to teach and was still working toward my Master’s degree.  Writing?  Yes, plenty of that, as long as we count assignment directions, notes on scholarly articles, notes on what I forgot at the grocery store on the second run.

Now that baby is a preschooler and I’ve been ignoring NaNo anyway. It’s in November.  That’s just cruel.  There is no way in –er, Hades – that I’ll ever get any creative writing done in November.

So I’m doing it in July.

If there’s anyone else who has been reluctant to get involved in a novel-in-a-month because of the date, join me.  Here’s my goal:  50,000 words on a novel written from July 1st to July 31st .

That’s over 1600 words a day.  A friend and I estimated it at 8-9 pages a day.  Keep in mind I haven’t written more than two pages a day – on assignment stuff and the occasional dead-end story – since before my son was born, so I’m setting the bar scary high for myself to aim for a (crappy, no-one-reads-it) novel in 5 weeks.

50,000 words in 5 weeks?  I must be insane.

Wish me luck!  (And kindly send a kick in the pants too – starting now (well, if you can arrange it, start kicking me yesterday… about 5am July 2nd.)


Editor’s Note:  If you are interested in joining Jessica in this July writing adventure but don’t know where to start, you may want to check out Camp NaNoWriMo, which is running now for the month of July!


19 thoughts on “Personal Writing Challenge

  1. I’ve done it these last two years and had no problem finishing. Then again I don’t have any kids to distract me, which a lot of my friends who also “compete” do. Last year I finished in the middle of the month. It’s totally doable, thousands do it every year so you shouldn’t have too much of a problem.

    As far as “crappy, no-one-reads-it novels” that’s up to the person who wrote it. There’s this trend I’m seeing now where if you mention you’re a part of Nanowrimo you’re churning out bad work, as if just being a part of that particular thing means your work sucks. That’s not true. It all depends on what you do with what you wrote after you wrote it. There have been quite a few best sellers that have come from that, such as “The Night Circus” among others. Authors write novels in that amount of time or less all the time. I know of an author who wrote a novel in 5 days and it was a best seller. Just because someone is attached to Nanowrimo doesn’t mean the work that comes from it is crap. Why does it have that stigma attached to it?

  2. All true, Matt. I designate mine as a crappy, no-one-reads-it novel to keep my focus on the word count (the goal); and because when I’ve tried to write stories during my “free” times, I get stalled. So the quip isn’t about what people participating in nanowrimo produce, it’s about what I am aiming for. (I didn’t know about Night Circus by the way — really had fun reading that book.)

    • You know, I didn’t consider you were talking solely about your work until after I posted that, and for that I do apologize. But what I said is actually what I’ve noticed. I seem to be hearing or seeing a lot online how people are almost shunning work done during NaNo, as if just being a part of NaNo means the work is crap, yet I don’t know why that is. And I know first hand if you churn out 50K words in a month, it’s going to be crap until you edit it and possibly rewrite it.

      As far as Night Circus, I can’t remember the other big recent successes from NaNo, but they have a page on their site that lists all of the published titles that were born during November. I had to actually Google it to find it. And for some reason I never saw Night Circus on that list, but I do know it was written during NaNo. The author was one of the inspirational speakers during NaNo and she mentioned it in her mass email to the participants.

      • Published NaNo authors: “The Night Circus” is there (I did a search on the page for it).

        The stigma with NaNoWriMo may come from those of us who actually participate in it. “I wrote a novel in 30 days! WOO HOO!” sounds a lot different than “I wrote my first draft for a novel in 30 days! WOO HOO!”. And that’s what we do — first drafts. While I am sure that ther are some authors whose first drafts are almost perfect, I dare say most of us don’t have that luxury. I LOVE my crappy, no-one-reads-it pile of words each November. I’ve won 7 times now and will be back for my 8th this year. Will I ever write a best seller doing it? I don’t know. But I certainly won’t if I don’t get that first draft done. The stigma (in my opinion) is the result of saying it is a novel, which implies it is “done”. Clearly, it is almost never “done” on November 30.

        Anyway… Jessica: I am here to poke at you to make sure you’re writing, so if you get stuck, let me know!

        • Rob — thank you. And ooh I’m stuck already. But on a habits end. I am out of the habit of writing – which is the point of this.
          I joined the camp you listed — that’s for that too!
          Okay. Back to it. Turns out today will be the only free-time I have this week after all. (Not that I won’t be writing — just have to get up early to do so.)

        • That’s a good point, but honestly I think 50k words that tell a story is a novel. It just might not be a very good one without a little cleaning up 😉

  3. (Moving my comment out here because it just looked silly as such a tiny reply!):

    I have absolutely no time during November… and so I find the time… five minutes here, ten minutes there. It’s suboptimal, but I’ve won every year for 7 years. You can do it!

  4. Hi Jessica,
    I have no interest in even trying NaNoWriMo, and most definitely not this year. But I have every respect for anyone who attempts to do it and great awe for those who win.
    This November our newest grandchild will be a week or so old. We plan to visit the baby and parents and that will wipe out at least a week, The rest of the month I will be too high on celebration to be able to focus on writing much.
    But I also think NaNoWriMo is a particular kind of stimulus that I don’t need, not now at least. The fastest I ever wrote a book was the most recent and it took about a year for the first draft. I’m now in revision stages. It is slower going but there are external forces at play that I can’t control and to which I must attend.
    I hope everyone who does NaNoWriMo this year let’s us know your progress. I want to cheer on all of you. Starting with you, Jessica!

  5. I wish you well, as you request. Yet, I also pray for your sanity.

    It’s been a while since I’ve dropped by “Today’s Author.” I like the new look. I’ll try to stop in more often.

  6. My goal this month is only 15,000 words, but I have a family reunion this month, so it makes sense. I have a friend who finished NaNo (in November) halfway through the month, so it’s definitely possible to do it. 🙂

    • It’s definitely possible. It’s more about making the writing habit for me — so I chose July because I have the fewest commitments. But I know that 15,000 is not necessarily a modest goal depending on what’s going in life. Good luck on your goal. I’d love to know if you met it, and whether it turned out to be a challenging goal or a modest on. And, lots of fun at your family reunion!

  7. I’ve participated in NaNo for four years. I find it challenging and fun. It’s been a good experience for me. I like the push to get the words out there. I look forward to November, I wait for the opening and closing bell, What a rush. Good luck to anyone who decides to take on the NaNoWriMO challenge.

  8. Hey Jessica, I’m excited to know how July NaNoWriMo worked for you. Did you get your book completed? And how is Toddler Boy doing this summer?

    • I did it! Haven’t written the fait accompli post for T.A. yet. Hopefully tomorrow morning. Toddler Boy moved up to Preschooler Child, and did surprisingly well with me writing instead of playing with / cooking for him. Sometimes this involved me giving up on a scene because he kept talking me through his lego land rover which he built more or less on my legs, but oh well.

      • Congratulations! I knew you could do it!

      • Enjoy every moment with Boy Child. All of a sudden they’re saying, I can do it myself. And they can. And you miss all the times they needed you. And must wait for grands to get back that old being needed feeling.
        But seems you did a terrific job at everything. Congrats, Jessica, on your version of NaNoWriMo. NaJuWriMo?

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