Why Every Writer Should Face Their Fear and #Nanowrimo at Least Once

Moonday Madness

a blog for writers about writing

I’ve avoided Nanowrimo for years. I did try once, a long time ago, when it was a much smaller event with just a few thousand people. But I didn’t even sign up or try to connect with anyone. I just decided I would do my best to try to write fifty thousand words in a month. I knew before I started that it would be a failure. And it was. I stopped after the first week.

So now I’m attempting it again!

Why would I do that?

Well, for one thing, I’m a different writer now. I actually have finished projects. Not just one, but several. I know my writing strengths and weaknesses better. Back then I was a seat of the pants, had no idea of my plot or characters, or even when I would sit down to write, kind of person.

Now, I know exactly how many words I can pound out in an hour, when I know my scene. I’ve learned all  about Goal, Motivation, Conflict and I’m deep in the middle of scene and structure immersion. All these things make my writing process smoother. So I should do better, right? Write!

But why should every writer try this? Why do I believe it will make a difference?


Not only do I have a deadline as to when the 50k must be finished. I can’t even start early! I must do it within the 30 days. That’s pressure. That means no editing, no hand holding, no prioritizing cleaning the bathroom over my keyboard. (Sorry family, things are going to get dirty!)

Did you hear the no editing?

Did you hear deadline?

Did you hear no cleaning? (Okay, if you have time, maybe a little.)

This is what all my author friends sound like when they have a book to turn in and the deadline is approaching. For authors with a contract and a book to write to that contract. Every book is a Nanowrimo book!

They’re up at all hours, deep in the pressure cooker, trying to get those words on the page. They have to stick to their outline. Why? Because if they don’t they don’t have time to go back and fix it! They can’t listen to their inner editors (sorry Gloria, Gracie is in trouble when the contract arrives) because if they do they will not finish, let alone on time.

When you are unpublished, or like me, an author with books to write without a contractual timeline, then you can waste time on other things and no one gets upset. (Well maybe you do.) You can take the time to go to coffee with a friend and say, oh  those words can wait until tomorrow, because there is no one else telling you they must be done by Tuesday, or else!

Nanowrimo becomes the evil editor. The one who makes you turn your book in on time. She makes you think about your story line ahead of time, because if you don’t, you run the risk of not being able to write 1,666 words per day for 30 days. And she’s the one you blame when you turn your best friend down for coffee. Or don’t clean the kitchen. Or send out for take out again and again and again. It’s all the fault of your editor, the person who needs this book by Novemeber 30th or the sky will certainly collapse.

Once again, why should you all practice this? Because fake it until you make it is how we get to be better authors. Practicing being an author with a deadline helps you finish books. Then you have to start submitting them. Which we all know is the harder part of the equation and may be why that book doesn’t get finished in the first place. Face your fear and attempt Nano! I am.


Filed under Goal Setting, Moonday mania, Nanowrimo, Writer's Journey

8 responses to “Why Every Writer Should Face Their Fear and #Nanowrimo at Least Once

  1. Next year, I promise! Well, at least I think I do. This year I am knee deep in finalizing a manuscript, enhancing my web exposure, sprucing up my short stories and, oh, did I mention acting and singing in The Music Man, whose final night is November 24. I’ll be beyond exhausted by then. But. While I just can’t sign up this year, I think your viewpoint is bang on the money, Jessica. And I’m already planning how I might do this next year. I wish you well, my dear. Write up a storm!

    • Wish I could be in the audience to see you in the Music Man! It’s a fantastic musical and I’m so glad you are having fun participating. So, Nano next year. I certainly haven’t tried it before and I may be singing a different tune at the end. Right now I’m cautiously optimistic about my future progress!

  2. Yep. Back when I had no idea about character motivations and flew completely from the seat of my pants, I never managed to finish a NaNo project. Knowing where your story is going, even vaguely, is the key. An hour and some change and I have 1,667 words. What I love most is hurtling through the fishing line a few days or a week early. Ahhhh.

  3. It’s funny how you say you are a different writer now. I feel I’ve changed as well since I began. Good luck with NaNo!

  4. Sorry for the delayed response, Jessica.

    I was consumed yesterday placating Grace, feeding her chicken soup. Ultimately, I had to bonk her on the noggin with a Louisville Slugger. I think she’s down for the word-count until I finish ALL INN.

    My pace has to stay on track with you brave NaNoWriMo folks. But, you know how I am with shiny baubles and communication. I’d spend far too much time noodling around in every ones word counts and comments.

    I’d say Good Luck, but I know you’ll do it.

    As will I…

    • WOOT! I know you can do it, now that you’ve taken care of Grace! Golden Heart, here you come!
      I think you are right and a contest deadline can be that all consuming DEADLINE, just like Nano. You go girl!

  5. Did Nano once and that was enough. It took me two months to get over it.

    And I don’t mean just mentally, physically also. 50,000 words mean a lot of time spent sitting down, hands over keyboard. My back hurt, my hands cramped.

    Done it, won’t do it again. But at least I know I can churn out that many words in a month.

    • 50k is a lot of time on the keyboard. So far, I’m not keeping up, but it’s fun to try! It’s also a family affair as my daughter does it too. My youngest is trying this year. She and I are slow together. 🙂

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