NaNo WriMo – Day 1, and Progress Counter

So, I have met my word count goal for today. It was difficult, but I reached the 1,667 minimum. Then I pushed on to get past 2,000. I even removed the 205 words from the count that I have in strike-out text (a false start on the first scene). Overall I am pleased. It is only 7:45 pm as I write this (thanks end of daylight savings time), so I am debating trying to squeeze in a few more words, but I’m not going to force it.

Because I am a visual person, I am just going to put this here, to help keep me on track:

And for those who are curious about what I am writing this year, I have a working title, and my synopsis to share. (I have also submitted the same to 30 days, 30 covers.)

Casey Watkins and the Case of the Missing Mascot

Casey Watkins just wants to go to the Homecoming Gala dance and have fun, but doesn’t know if that is possible with things they way they are. First, Casey doesn’t know who they will go with. To make things worse, Grant High rules require a tux or formal dress, either of which would require Casey to choose a highly gendered role. These matters become moot when the school mascot is stolen and the looks like the dance will be cancelled. Desperate to keep the event going, the dance committee implores Casey to help find the missing bulldog pup. Casey brings in the help of their two best friends, Anya and Juan, to solve the easiest of these, and set out to find the missing mascot, so that at least some of the school can enjoy the dance.

NaNo WriMo 2015

NaNo-2015-Participant-Badge-Large-SquareSunday the calendar switches from October to November, and with it comes the start of National Novel Writing Month (NaNo WriMo). The goal is 50,000 words in 30 days – or an average of 1,667 words a day.

For some this seems like a Herculean feat, particularly in a short month, and one where (in America at least) we are dealing with Thanksgiving as well as the prep for the impending winter holidays.

I speak from experience when I say it is doable. I have won NaNo WriMo* seven times.

You may say “Amazing” but here is the kicker. My last win was in 2011, and I stopped writing the story about half-way through the month, and made up the rest of the words with notes about the story. Yes I did write the required amount of words, and yes they are about the plot and characters, but it wasn’t actual story on page. So my last legitimate win was 2009.

I have signed up for, and participated in (at least nominally) NaNo WriMo every year since 2003, but these past several years have been less than stellar. I think, in part, this is because I stepped down as municipal liaison for my region. In theory this meant I had more free time in November to write as less of the time would be spent organizing and running the local events. In practice it meant that the obligation I felt as a leader figure to meet the goal was suddenly lifted.

Honestly, I thought about not signing up a few of these most recent years, but I had friends participating, so I made at least an effort for the first few days. Recently I came to realize that my depression might be part of why I wasn’t winning – I couldn’t bring myself to care about much of anything, so why should I care about writing 50k in a month?

This year, well, I’m not as excited about NaNo WriMo as I have been in past years. I know I can win, if I put my mind to it. I also know I can fail spectacularly (just a little over 1,000 words one year). Yet I have signed up for it again, in part because my online writing group has done so, in part to stay connected with my new writer friends from the Out Of Excuses Retreat 2015-On A Boat, and in part because my sibling has signed up, and I want to be an encouragement to them, as well.

The last part, the one that I am having to remind myself, is that I like writing. When I write, I feel better. And, honestly, I haven’t written much this year. Like, at all. I hate that I have to trick myself into writing – to use my group and my pseudo-obligations as an excuse, but that part of my brain where the depression lives is quietly whispering “what’s the use?” So in part, my participation this year is a bit of a “screw you” to my depression.

Because if I want to continue to call myself I writer, I need to get my butt in the chair and write.

So ask me about my word count – keep me honest. And maybe, by the end of the month I will have reestablished my writing habit, or, in the very least put up a good fight my depression.


* Wins mean writing 50k+ words- though not not necessarily finishing the respective stories- in November

NaNo WriMo 2014

NaNo WriMo Participant 2014

Every year since 2003, I have participated in (well, at least signed up for) NaNo WriMo (National Novel Writing Month, for the lay-person). The goal is simple, write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November.

What! Are you kidding? Fifty-THOUSAND words? Is that even possible?

The answer is, for me at least, yes, it is possible. Witness the 7 first-draft novels I have created (or at least started) in November. Now, I do have 4 non-wins under my belt as well (in 2012, I think my total word count just crested 1,200 words), but life happens, and sometimes that doesn’t involve writing in November.

This year I have narrowed down my story to one of two re-writes. Either Foxglove and Queen Anne’s Lace- a young adult novel I originally wrote in 2009, or the expansion of a not-so-short story that started off as a re-telling of Snow White into a novel. One big difference this year is that I will be working from an outline of some sort.

You may be asking yourself, why November? If I am capable of creating a full first draft, why do I stick to doing it during NaNo WriMo – why not apply the skills I’ve learned to other parts of the year?

Short answer is: I do, but life. One thing that November brings that I do not have other months is the massive community behind me – the thousands of other people across the world who are also participating in this mad dash for 50k and glory. And by glory, I mean a certificate. Well, a certificate and the certain knowledge that we have created something.

For eight years I was Municipal Liaison for my region, planning the events that locals would attend to get them psyched about writing, and building that community locally. I have since retired that position, but I have other community groups (mostly online) that are participating in NaNo WriMo this year. And so I go once more, bravely into the breach, and with these other writers by my side, cheering me on, will bravely try to turn one of my stories into a better story, through application of an outline, and lots of time and energy pounding out the words to make that story come to life.

And you can tell, with that last sentence (as rambley as it is) that the NaNo WriMo season is truly upon us, and the motto “Quantity not quality” is once again seeping into my writer’s blood.

Once more, into the breach I go.