Notes on the journey of motherhood

NaNo in slow mo

falling down


Post by Karen Charlton

If it’s been a little quiet here of late, it’s because I’ve been doing NaNoWriMo, a challenge to write 50,000 words in the 30 days of November. Despite being a non-fiction nut, I began NaNo with an idea for a young adult novel that’s been swimming around my head for a few years, a long piece of fiction. I decided on 28th October that I’d give it a crack and by the morning of November 2 I retired that draft after realising I was creating characters who just wanted to stare at each other and mouth breathe.

If you take a look at my bookshelves, they are heaving with non-fiction books. I don’t actually read much fiction, unless I am on holiday or at a loose end. So, rather than squander this month of November I’ve been working on a non-fiction draft. Part pop-culture treatise, part-memoir, part-history, part whatever it needs to be in order to get to the truth at the heart of the topic.

Instead of focusing on the not insignificant word count, NaNo for this little duck has been about giving myself permission to show up to the page and say what I want to say, in whatever form seems appropriate. I’ve literally spent years reading in and around this particular topic but only in signing up for NaNo have I fully embraced the opportunity to explore it. Sure, I’ve had excuses not to try, they probably sound a lot like everyone else’s; I’ve got 3 young kids, we’re building a house, my husband works long hours, there’s been long weekends and excursions and tonsillitis and tantrums. NaNo cuts through the noise and makes you accountable to those ideas that roll around your head, but that rarely get to see the light of day.

While I’m hopeful for the bare bones of a first draft by the end of the month, I’m more interested in the act of writing a long piece. I’m keen to discover what it is this story really wants to say. I’m now up to 16,500 words and it’s exhilarating to be this high up the mountain. I’ve never been this far before.

Are you NaNo-ing this year? Have you attempted it before? What would your advice be to a newbie NaNo-er?

7 Responses to “NaNo in slow mo”

  1. presentimperfection

    wow, that’s really impressive, especially given how busy your life is. I ducked out this year using business and lack of ideas as an excuse. Maybe next year. Well done you!

  2. Stella Orbit (@stellaorbit)

    I didn’t think I could write fiction at all till I attempted NaNo last year. I found out I can. I have a lot to learn, but it was a great way to begin. Good luck! This year, I am doing #blogvember instead, still writing every day, but less difficult to sustain while working full time.

    Good luck, hope we get to read the end result.

  3. Donna @ Nappydaze

    Well done Karen! I’m doing my first NaNo but aiming so low so as to not scare myself off and give up. My total word count is 15000 and I’m very much on track. I had 30,000 done before starting so like you I’m further up the writing mountain than ever before & loving the view :)

  4. Gill

    Na No Wri Mo is a crazy journey to be on but i like it. Sounds like you have tweaked the challenge to work for you and there doesn’t seem any point to doing it otherwise. I’m cheering you on from the sidelines, Karen. Get up that mountain.

  5. Janelle

    Congrats, 16,500 words is quite the accomplishment! I’ve only done NaNo once before and am attempting it again this year, although I’m not quite sure why. I tend to be really excited in the first week and I write almost each day, and then I lose steam, fall behind and know I’d never be able to catch up. I’ve done it again this year! So my advice would be, do what you can to keep your momentum up. Whether it’s booking writing time in to your diary so you actually keep your “appointment”, or another way. Good luck and enjoy!

  6. Chantelle Dalgarno

    This is my fourth NaNoWriMo, and every year I learn something different about myself. The first year, when I won, I learned that I work best under pressure. I had a total of 7000 words when the calendar rolled on to November 28th and had told everyone I was participating, so I needed to get it DONE.

    I also learned that 43000 words in 24hrs is possible… As long as you’re prepared for some major RSI and being unable to think for the next week.

    The next two years I participated, I pantsed it… And then ballsed it up when both stories stalled at 30000 words. I learned that I am useless without a a plan, that my imagination is all well and good but it can occasionally go wandering when I need it, and that it’s useless trying to write while studying for uni exams and working full time.

    This year, I have a detailed synopsis for each chapter, I’ve been collecting quotes and funny things I want my characters to say and even did a bit of research on a real estate website for inspiration to describe their homes.

    This year, I am pretty much keeping up with the daily word count and staying almost on par.

    We’ll see what it looks like come the 30th though ;)


Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,017 other followers

%d bloggers like this: