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NaNoWriMo November?

First of all, a little bit of exciting news! Fit and Full of Running, (Fortune's Fool, #11), is now live on Amazon! It's available both in eBook and paperback.

It's still #1 in its primary Kindle category, and hovering #1 in the other two, despite being released for, well, eons, in the speed of Amazon publishing! Thank you so much, everyone who has read, especially if you reviewed or rated it!

This October publication date is a relatively new phenomenon for me, as I'm usually editing in November. But, since it's NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I have no excuse not to jump into the next installment (which will focus on Eric, Simon's long-suffering significant other), right?

NaNoWriMo sounds like a badly named ramen chain, and truthfully, it's become something of an industry, at least if you're a writer, or even someone who reads quite a bit of fiction. On social media, you're sure to see people advertising their "word sprints," various concentration techniques to keep focused and fit writing into a hectic schedule, brags about how many words written that day, angsty self-examination about not writing enough, and even advertisements of various software to enhance NaNoWriMo experiences (Scriviner, FreeWrite, Grammarly). Plus, posts by people who have won or lost NaNoWriMo at the end of it.

While some people just use NaNoWriMo as a kick in the writerly pants to write more, officially the purpose (to win) NaNoWriMo, is to write a a 50,000 word draft of a novel in a month. (It's also a nonprofit, with its own dedicated website.) Since 30 days hath November, as the poem goes, that translates into roughly 1,667 words per day. The Wiki contains a list of novels published that were conceived during the month.

As a novelist, sometimes I've felt the pressure. Some aggressive #writingcommunity people on Twitter (remember that social media site?) I remember once pushing me to abandon my editing project and join as part of some kind of writerly solidarity (I said no, since if I was the type to cave to peer pressure, I probably would have had more friends in high school and college and be having too much fun to write this right now). And it can be intimidating when #writingcommunity -type people post 10,000 a day word counts, even if many of them never published a book, while somehow my books get written. Much like one 20 mile run won't make you a marathoner, writing is the product of daily, grinding training that eventually pays off.

I haven't set a minimum daily word count for myself since I started writing novels seriously in 2014 (my minimum was 500-1000). Since my first, I just write every day, unless I have a major event going on like a holiday or hard race. Again, somehow I still produce around 2+ books a year without any fidgety gadgets or minimums. However, given the fortuitous timing, I have been trying to do the NaNoWriMo minimum.

I think there is value to word counts, or even requiring spending a specific amount of time on a project (like setting a minimum time to write per day), much like setting miles-per-week targets for running. But it can be so easy on social media for performative volume taking over the real reason you're doing the task.

But I think the main reason for my resistance (besides scheduling) in the past is that I'm not a very social writer. I don't like sharing my process, for fear if I confess that I don't do X, then my critics will say, "Ha! If she only followed the Widgety Fidgety Outline Format, then her novels would be better." Plus, while I enjoy talking with other writers about writing, I don't feel the need to participate in group writing exercises to prove I am one.

Maybe because I'm also a little baffled by people wanting to seem writerly. I'm Gen X and grew up being told writing was not cool. If anything, it was something you did because you weren't good at sports. Unless you were published by a Big Five publisher, novel-writing was frowned upon as silly or trivial, at least if you were female. I remember once winning an awful tiny floral notebook and pencil set at a bridal shower party and being told in the most patronizing of tones, "how perfect for you to get your writing done," like my work was akin to an eleven-year-old scribbling in a locked pink diary.

But still, I'm in 16,000 words into the next book in my series and trying to hold to the 1600~ per day count. And for all of my reservations about NaNoWriMo, I think its critics come from a far worse place, emotionally speaking, as if writing needs to be something eked out painfully, in halting sentences, and a work needs to take years upon years to be worth writing. And so, to this blog post that took me less than a day to write, I conclude:


P.S. If NaNoWriMo ain't your jam, of course, feel free to do:

No Stirrup November (ride without stirrups all month, leave 'em in your car trunk if very hard core)

Or just make some goddamned turkey handprints.

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Nov 08, 2023

Interesting to hear your thoughts on NaNoWriMo (and glad I’m not the only one who thinks that about the name) and writing in general. I’m excited to hear that we will have some Eric pov next book, I hope it goes better than when Philip had a pov!

I am currently participating in nothing this month (riding greenies doesn’t go particularly well with no stirrup November which is my go to).

Mary Pagones
Mary Pagones
Nov 08, 2023
Replying to

Ha! I think Eric and Simon's relationship does seem to be on securer (and less competitive) footing than Philip and Simon's! And gosh yes, safety first! That is actually another issue of mine with those challenges--just like if I'm editing a big project, I'm not going to write a new novel just because it's November, there's also sorts of good reasons for a rider not to throw away her stirrups just because it's November--like a horse that's nowhere ready to be that forgiving.

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