NaNoWriMo 2015: Do I Want This or Not?


The secret for getting ahead is getting started. – Mark Twain

Everyone has a bucket list or a list of things they want to accomplish in life, right? I do. I’ve had one for a long time. It changes as time goes on. If you looked at it ten years ago it would have included items like “go to law school”, “become a landlord”, “get married”, “having kids (eventually)”. The one thing that has remained a constant but unchecked is “write a novel”.

As a kid my mom would sometimes have to take my sister and me with her to work on a Saturday or Sunday because she was on call. It was the early 90’s so computers weren’t everywhere yet but my mom’s office had a word processor in it. While my little sister would run around the floor harassing the staff for candy and things to do, I would park myself in my mom’s office in front of the word processor and type out stories. I remember writing on a story about a kid who could hear trees talking to him (and they weren’t always saying nice things). I had just gotten to the climax of my story when the damn word processor crapped out on me and lost the majority of my work because I didn’t press “print” (the equivalent of today’s “save”) every so often. It was a hard lesson for a young writer to learn. (Always save your work!) I don’t remember how that story about the kid who could hear trees talk ended but I do remember I rewrote it again and printed it out as I went.


My tenacity to write has been there from almost the beginning. November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo for those in the know). I’ve attempted it one other time, six or seven years ago, and failed miserably. I got wrapped up in other things in my life, allowed myself to get distracted when I was supposed to be writing, and generally just did not have a plan of action. Life has always found a way to get way out in front of that drive to write…for every writer. Over the summer I read The Paris Wife, a fictionalized account of Ernest Hemmingway’s first marriage. I found it almost unbelievable that he would go out all day long and write, as if he was going to the office, while he his wife was left at home and they were struggling to make ends meet. Then it dawned on me that he made writing a priority and like a slap to the forehead that’s what I needed to be doing, too.

At the beginning of this year, I set out to finish a novel. I toiled with something that amounted to a third of a book for about the first half of the year. In July, I took a “Summer Camp” challenge organized by the NaNoWriMo people and actually finished a very rough draft before the end of the month. I had done it…sort of. It needs a lot of work and I still think there’s more of it to flesh out but instead of diving back in I took the advice that Stephen King offers up in his On Writing and let it sit for weeks, okay months. It was perfect timing really, since we moved and needed to get settled I didn’t have much time to really get into it.

When I saw that NaNoWriMo 2015 was coming up, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to work on this project. I’d have a deadline, which is always a big motivator for me, and while I know I’m not going to be able to make this thing close to perfect in thirty days, I’d at least have a good chunk of work done towards that goal. As November got closer and closer though all those doubts and preemptive excuses started bubbling to the surface. “Ugh! But my birthday, our anniversary, and Thanksgiving are all in that month!” “Am I really going to be able to put something halfway decent together if I’m working for quantity over quality?”

I finally had to say to myself “Do you want this or not?” And the simple answer is “Yes, yes I do want this.” I can’t even fail if I don’t try but I’d rather fail than never make the attempt. So from now until the end of the month, I’m going to take time out of every day to work on my project and not concern myself with the results until the end because I want this.

Are you participating in NaNoWriMo 2015? What are your biggest concerns or hurdles?

14 Comment

  1. I participated last year but only completed about 8,000 words. I would love to do it again, but with a one year old and trying to launch TWO blogs, I can’t commit this year. Next year! LOL

    1. Jennifer says: Reply

      Yeah I’d say you have a full plate! Good luck with your launches!

  2. Rhoda says: Reply

    I’m not a writer but I have friends who have done the NaNoWriMo. It seems intense, but well worth it. I suppose a person could choose their own hobby/passion and play long 🙂 It’s a great way to focus!

    1. Jennifer says: Reply

      That could be a fun way to approach a passion…30 days of painting/running/etc. 🙂

  3. Sandra says: Reply

    Thank you for writing this. I had decided to join this year, and then completely forgot about it until I realized it is already the 2nd of november….

    Thanks to your post I’m saying screw it, I’m doing it anyway, starting today! So thank you!!

    1. Jennifer says: Reply

      Do it!! It’s never too late to start…unless it’s November 29th. 🙂 Good luck!

  4. Kacy says: Reply

    I loved your story about the word processor (not the part about losing your work though). I begged for a typewriter for Christmas when I was in second grade and did much the same that you did, writing out stories to pass the time.

    I”ve done NaNo twice now, and think it’s such a motivating program. I won both times, but can’t say I’ve done much with the novels. I tend to do it every other year and this is an off year, but maybe next year I’ll pick back up and really finish one of them, or start a new one. Good luck!!

    1. Jennifer says: Reply

      I would kill for a typewriter! I feel so productive tapping away on one.

      Winning twice is impressive!

  5. Kayla says: Reply

    I had a similar thing happen to me before. When I was younger my dad let me have an old laptop (it didn’t even have internet capability) but I used it to type out stories. I ended up writing one on Microsoft Word that was over 50 pages long. Soon after, the laptop crashed and my entire story was gone. I don’t even really remember what it was about but I SO wish I could retrieve it and read it now.

    I wish you luck on your novel writing! I would love to write one too someday but I’m struggling just to keep up with blogging consistently because of classes and everything else in my life. Someday, though, I’m going to make writing a priority just like you have!

    Kayla |

    1. Jennifer says: Reply

      Ha! I remember when laptops were the hot new thing even without internet. Thanks for the well wishes. I hope things calm down for you.

  6. Liza says: Reply

    I’ve tried to gear up for NaNoWriMo three different times, and stuff just keeps getting in the way (a.k.a. it’s not been a priority). Good for you for making it happen this year!

    1. Jennifer says: Reply


  7. Jen says: Reply

    This will be my second year participating in NaNoWriMo and YES – it is a huge pain the butt to have this awesome program in November. I always think “what about February?”…that would be a much better time to write. But I think November works in mysterious ways, asking us as writers to prioritize our livelihood and live out the expectations the world has on us as novelists.

    You can do this. You will do this. Make the time. Grab some buddies. My NaNoWriMo name is Jen Ludwigsen if you want to add me to your buddy list. Be happy to help shoot some motivation your way every now and then!

    1. Jennifer says: Reply

      That’s actually a genius way of looking at it. Prioritizing it has always been my biggest struggle but (so far) this year I’m setting aside a specific time every day for it, namely nap time. I know I have at least 2 hours to myself and I’m not allowed to do anything else but work on NaNoWriMo.

      I’ll definitely add you to my buddy list today! Best of luck to you!

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