Why I am a NaNoWriMo Grinch or a girl has to write it her own way.

Tomorrow is November 1st and the start of NaNoWriMo , or ‘Write a book in November’. If you want to see me get really het up, fling the words NaNo WrioMo at me or even worse, ‘Write a Book in a Week.’ 

Yes, I know this idea is to get people into the habit of writing every day but so often it ends up as a competition of ‘I wrote 5,000 words today’, which is quickly countered by someone who reports they wrote ‘10,000.’ And you know what? I can’t compete. I just can’t write 50K in four short weeks.

Yesterday I finished my 17th Harlequin Medical Romance (50K) and I’ve also written two 100K single titles. I have NEVER written a book in a month and this is why.

 Back on August 18th I started the book  and  I had ten weeks to write it.  I’ve been calling for want of a better name,  ‘My Argentine Guy’. He’s pretty gorgeous so it seemed enough. 🙂 I got off to flying start for me by writing 1000 words. This was a huge . Seriously. First day of writing often is less than 500 words.  Thirteen days later, having worked eleven of those days I had 7,171 clean words… that is 561 words a day.

 Do you see why I am an NaNoWriMo Grinch? Starting is hard for me I have to get to know my characters.  I frequently sit down and have no idea what they are going to do next and my only guiding light is their belief they hold about themselves.

Thirty days has September and I wrote on twenty-six of those days. By the end of September I had 24,750 words ….which works out to be 676 words a day. I was up to page 100 and I have five other pages of notes which I’ve included in the word count because they ended up in the book in some shape or form.  I had 31 days left to write more words than I had written in 38 days.

Fifteen days later with only sixteen days until the book was due I was at 34,360 words having only advanced 10K, which is still about 600 words a day and I am writing for a full working day here. It isn’t like I am just at the computer for a couple of hours!!

 And the book wasn’t working. I had no clear idea of how my heroine was going to get her epiphany. I hauled out pen and paper, I made charts, I re-read what I had written twice and I highlighted their emotional journeys. I was horrible to my husband, I was irritable with everyone and I had a bright red light over my head flashing, ‘deadline, deadline deadline.’

I also had a part of my brain saying, ‘trust your process.’ In the past I have written books in ten weeks, in fact that is the time I allow to write one. Once I shaved off a week but generally I make it in ten. It does mean it’s tight for me though.

By October 22nd I had turned a corner. I was up to 42,122 words, a whooping 1100 words a day. The last week I wrote 9500 words, bringing my average for that week up to 1357 words  day. I spent Saturday and Sunday doing  a final read and now it has gone.

Why have I written this post? To say that my process is mine and that your process is yours. Word counts are NOT everything. Finishing a well crafted book is everything and often that is achieved not by pumping out words but sometimes by reflecting. I worry for unpublished authors that they feel they have to write fast and then beat themselves up when they don’t reach a word target. The muse isn’t always going to oblige and I find on the days she coughs up a lot of words, the next day is a writing bust.

So yeah, I’m not joining NoWriMo because I can’t write a book in a month, but I can write a clean ready to go book in ten weeks. I probably should allow eleven….


12 thoughts on “Why I am a NaNoWriMo Grinch or a girl has to write it her own way.

  1. Congrats on your 17th Medical – wonderful news!!!

    Thanks for your insights into NaNoWriMo – I agree that each writer is different and I really struggle to write so many words each day.

    In saying that, I did April Kihlstrom’s BIAW and surprised myself by doing writing sprints and although I didn’t write a book in a week, I did do 13K words in four days 🙂

    I think each writer eventually finds what works best for them.

  2. “Trust your process” are the magic words. I think we each know how we write best (and I’m way more like you – I’d freeze totally if I was trying to write X number of words per day. I’d write them but they wouldn’t be readable!). Good thoughts you shared today, thanks!

  3. Joanne, I think anything that gets you into the habit of sitting down to write is good, but I have grave concerns about word targets. Now using a timer is a totally different thing.

  4. Thank YOU! I have the same issue with NanoWriMo, which is to me “NanoWriNoMO” as it has the same debilitating effect on me. “My word count is BIGGER than yours” hasn’t ever been a great stimulus for my writing. And trusting your process (esp after all the work you’ve done!) is the best thing to do!


  5. I’ve done NaNo 5 times and made it to the end every time. The first book was absolute crap. So was the second. But I had fun. By my third year, I knew where I’d gone wrong, and I sold that book (after revisions). I sold the next, as well. Last year’s book went through revisions, but needs another round, according to my editor. This year I think I’ll pass–bad timing. But I do love the push, and the community.

    I’ve found that not only does every writer has her process, every book has its way to be written. Have you found that?

  6. “Trust your process” are words for writers to live by. Of course everyone should try a few different processes and see what works for them. You’ve certainly found what works for you (as I remind you every time you start a new book ;-P) I envy the days where I could sit and write all day and even forget to eat (yes, truly). But then I learnt some of the ropes and the internal editor kicks in even if I tell her that it’s NaNoWriMo and she’s not allowed to. She’s very stubborn.

    Great post.

  7. Sharon and Vanessa, glad my words resonated.

    MJ, YES!!! Every book is different and has a different point of stumble. Another reason writing fast doesn’t suit me is that to avoid massive rewrites I find it better to mull at the stumble point and work out what the issue is before going back to seed in stuff so I can move forward

  8. Fiona,
    I’m so jealous! I take 10 weeks to write a book and it’s mess! I want to steal your process 😉
    I have done Nano and sometimes it has worked for me, sometimes not. It really depends on what else is going on in my life at the time.
    I did find it went better when I outlined, which is a part of my process I gritted my teeth and resisted for a long time. I still hate it, but it makes the difference between a 50,000 word very rough draft and a 30,000 word mess with gobbly-gook attached to pad it.

  9. Jill, LOL on you being jealous because I am surrounded by faster writers so I envy them their speed. Accepting our process is something I have had to learn but I still rail against it often.

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