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To nanowrimo or not to nanowrimo?

It’s that time of year again – nanowrimo, or National Novel Writing Month. Thousands of people are devoting the entire month of November to writing 50,000-word novels.

I don’t actually have a plan this year, or even an idea of what my novel will be about. I’m just going to fly by the seat of my pants…if I even decide to do it.

I have to decide now, because it starts tomorrow, and I can’t be late getting out of the gate.


I was invited to join a writing group a couple of months ago, and it has been really good for me. It nudged me out of my writing rut (which was a bad habit of never finishing anything I start writing) and it also got me to show some of my unfinished writing to other people. As an added bonus, I like the people in my writing group, and I like reading their unfinished writing and the cooperative approach to working out our writing problems.

I still haven’t finished writing anything, but I’m working on a story called Chameleon and I haven’t abandoned it yet. I keep plugging away at it. I’m trying to devote an hour a day to it, though I haven’t actually worked on it since last week. (I have excuses.)

I don’t want to work on Chameleon for nanowrimo, for two reasons. One is that I’ve already started Chameleon, and the rules of nanowrimo state that you can’t start writing until November 1st. And the second reason is that in order to produce 50,000 words in a month, you don’t have time to think or re-read or edit as you write. Chameleon is a more thoughtful story than that. I want to think and re-read and edit as I write.

But if I start something completely different for nanowrimo, than I’ll have to put Chameleon on the shelf for a month because there won’t be time to do both. And if I put Chameleon on the shelf for a month, I might abandon it altogether.

What to do, what to do?


I read something the other day that expresses why I write. I stumbled across it in my Flipboard and it had been quoted and requoted and I think it lost its original author along the way. I’m copying it here, but if anybody knows who wrote it, please let me know.

it’s all happening, all of it!



“Doesn’t it ever alarm you to think about how there are billions of people existing out there right now, right this moment, and they’re all the creators of so many thoughts and ideas whizzing about? At this very moment in time there are people making love and having babies and putting their dogs to sleep. There are husbands leaving their wives and wives leaving their husbands and drunken binges and religious fanatics converting former doubters. There are children dying and being recruited as soldiers, people being evicted from their homes, people falling in love for the first time or maybe even the very last time. There are wallets being stolen and girls crying and boys trying to win back their lost loves and people starving themselves and schemes being plotted. There are sinners and saints and phone-calls home and irreparable damages being made to family living room carpets because there are one too many who showed up at the party and everyone’s a little too drunk. Someone is thinking about you and they may not even know you yet, and someone loves you, and someone probably hates you with a passion as well, but it’s just what happens, there’s nothing you can do. Doesn’t it boggle you?! People finding god, and renouncing their faith, baptisms and pagan rituals and house shows and songs being written. There are boys discovering pornography and girls bleaching their hair white-blond and famous pictures being taken and someone’s mom is dying right now, but someone else’s is having the greatest day of all time. Proposals and love poems and death threats scrawled on walls and stomachs being pumped and people dropping all of their groceries in the 5th isle down from the deli. There are people hoping on planes for the first time, and people finding out about terminal illnesses and and and, doesn’t it blow your mind clear out?! There are books being written—right this moment—and one of them is going to be your favorite; it’s going to mean the world to you. Maybe it’s just me, maybe I just let my brain get so ahead of me, but it’s comforting to know that anything can happen and right now everything is happening, and it’s amazing and beautiful and and and. It’s all just happening right now.”

That’s why I write.


2 comments to To nanowrimo or not to nanowrimo?

  • So I’m dying to know what you decided to do?
    Also, I’m VERY glad to hear you’re enjoying writing group :)

  • Deb

    I think that you should continue to work on Chameleon and forego Nanowrimo this year…I can’t wait for you to finish something that we will be allowed to read. Just my opinion