NaNoWriMo Twenty Ten

This has been on and off in my head for a while now. October is just around the corner, and November soon after that. The time to decide is now: Do I set myself up for another failed NaNoWriMo?

November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. Every November, writers and aspiring writers go for a mad dash to 50,000 words–a novel–by the end of the month. That’s around 1,667 words a day. There is no entrance fee, there are no prizes. None except the exhilaration of accomplishment and a first draft of a novel.

Or not. (As in my case.)

The earliest NaNo “manuscript” I have is 2002. I haven’t joined every year, because some years I feel kinder to myself and opt not to fail again by not even starting.

The sprint to 50,000, but ending in around 21,000

So what went wrong all those times? I’m not entirely sure. Everyone loses steam at some point in November, but not everyone who loses steam fails to turn in the 50,000. At some point, I’ve just always ended up not finishing.

  1. Story 1 (plus at least one more): a story I don’t know anymore. It’s been that long. An “original” story, one I haven’t worked on before. A failure. I have notes scattered here and there, but it never got very far.
  2. Story 2: a rewrite of Chimerage, the story I wrote back in high school for the school newspaper. It spawned a trilogy after the initial, standalone story, which of course was not as good as the original. I thought to get down and dirty, and rewrite it. Uh, failure.
  3. Story 3: a semi-autobiographical story of a certain portion of my life. Almost strictly for personal perusal, I got the idea from the fact that I do a lot of journal writing. A journal-writing-style novel would be easy to do, right? Uh, no. Too close for comfort. Emotional upheaval. Fail.

So, um. Out of ideas. Why is 50,000 words of substandard frenzied writing so difficult to do when I can write 2,000 word journal entries without blinking an eye? (Not really, but you know what I mean.)

Proof that I am crazy

Yes, I am crazy. I must be a masochistic this year, as well, because I’ve decided to give it a shot. 50,000 words in 30 days. 1,700 words a day.

What story? A completely new one. One that I’ve wanted to write for some time now, but I kept putting it off because I didn’t have enough research done. It’s semi-historical in nature, so while I know I could never make every single detail just right, I didn’t want to rush in blindly. Sadly, the research I needed was research I could only really do in the Philippines. There are likely some texts and information I can get online, but very little, and not all reliable. I can sense that most, if not all, of whatever I write for this story would be useless.

Then why even bother?

Because if I don’t bother now, when? I’ll never have the luxury of time to do enough research. And once I get into research mode, I’ll just do that–research. There won’t be enough, because it will always be vague, as histories go. So my story won’t be strictly historical. Well, maybe that’s all right. Maybe I can rectify things later on. Maybe.

But for now, it’s time to try again.


  • Not that I won last year (but I have two wins previous years :x) but I set my goal to 2k a day, finding that if I do that, I blow past the initial “hump” of 1700 and then end up somewhere around 2300-2700 per day. That way, midmonth when I slack off a little bit, I don’t have a lot to make up for when I pick it up again; it doesn’t feel like “oh God, I have 10,000 words to write to catch up to where I *should* be right now.”

    I tried this two years ago and ended up something like 76k (though I never finished the book, I lost momentum at the end of the month :/).

    Anyway, it may seem kind of daunting to set your daily goal a little higher, but if you keep up with it you can either “finish” (50k) earlier, or it’ll give you a little cushion for those days when you’re not sure why you’re doing this with your life. :)

    Good luck!

    (PS – We’re still buddies I think, my username on the site is amateras.)

    • Hello! I’m jealous, two wins! :D

      I actually do the same, I have a calendar and everything to keep track of that. My issues seem to stem more from not having enough steam to carry me through the whole month writing. I can write 2,000 words easily in one sitting, but writing daily, I think, was the issue.

      Blogging regularly seems to be helping me a lot of what hurdle, though! So hopefully this year will be different :)

  • As a NaNoWriMo ML, I will encourage you to try again! :) I’ve only finished two novels but I don’t think they will be ever good enough (nor will I have the time to actually edit it…or find time to edit it, actually), and I have four more unfinished ones lying around, but I will still join this year because I like the literary craziness it ensues. :) So I say, go go go! You don’t have anything to lose. :D

    • Haha thanks! I almost wish I’m back in the Philippines to get to your, er, “jurisdiction” hahaha. I don’t feel comfortable meeting up with the WriMos here eh, since I know no one and the writing process still feels very personal to me (since I’m trying to get back into it).

  • I’m not sure that many people actually finish the NaNoWriMo thing. I know people say that they do, and they may even get in the right number of words. I think, though, that people may not do the best after a certain point.

    Maybe you’ll make it this time, though. If you at least try, then it’s not really a failure or a proof of craziness or anything pointing towards badness.

    • Thanks, Janet!

      You may be right about that. Actually, that semi-autobiographical thing I did in one NaNo, I did get to over 50,000 words. But I didn’t see it as a win as it was certainly not finished and so horridly strewn together that I just knew I wouldn’t care to do any editing on it post-NaNo. I got the “winners certificate”, but I’m not touting it as a win of any sort.

      I’m certain I never really do my best all the time for my NaNo writing, and this year won’t be the same. Sadly, I always seem to get “hung up” on writing the best way possible, which means I never get anything done (now that my inner editor and perfectionist self is much more evolved than it was when I was in high school). So I’ll likely bungle along and just write…as long as I have a first draft that’s workable by November 30, I’ll be happy.