Monday, November 8, 2010

No Guts, No Glory: When The NaNoWriMo Going Gets Tough

National Novel Writing Month. 50,000 words in 30 days. Now THAT’s what I call a challenge. Good thing challenges turn me on. Get me going. Rev my writer’s engine. But on the other hand, engines are prone to break-downs and there’s a stop light on every corner, it seems.

Right now I’m stalled on the side of the road, flashers blinking, with no NaNo AAA in sight!

For several years I’ve done NaNo, start to finish, loving my story and racing to the 50,000 word finish line, no problem. One year, though, I hated my story after a week, and dumped it in favor of a whim. And I didn’t get the NaNo checkered flag that year. Things fizzled and I went into a funk and it ended there.

This year is starting to take on that Groundhog Day-like quality, and I am finding myself hard-pressed to keep my NaNo “no guts no glory” energy in high gear. I started with a contemporary, category story idea that I’d plotted out in advance. After 2 days, nuh-uh. Wasn’t giving me that old spark. SO I switched to an erotic wild, wild west historical that I’d had rambling around in my head for a while.

Too much research. I was writing but I knew full well that I had places, language, historical facts wrong, wrong, wrong. Like I had sand in my gas tank, I ground to a halt.

After a weekend of ZERO words, this morning I tossed THOSE pages (over 4,500 words) and have gone back to square one, to start again. This time I’m hot and heavy about my erotic thriller – one that I have been plotting and researching and doing character work on for six months (even though I had the niggling suspicion it was too complex for NaNo). BUT - It feels good. It feels right. I’ve already done the research I need to write fast; and it is erotic romance, which is what currently blows my skirt up, creativity-wise.

What do I NOT have?

The first 7 days of November that are already gone, baby, gone.

So, here’s the challenge: Can I do it? Can I catch up? Today’s minimum total (at 1,666 words per day for 30 days) leaves me 13,328 words in the hole. Now, I’m a fast writer. I’m totally into my story: I despise my horribly villainous, psychologically manipulative serial killer and his sadistic, sociopathic minions. My hero and heroine are hot, sexy, dark, troubled, courageous and driven. And the uber hot sex that is to be blended with the danger makes for a perfect match.

But there’s this little thing called life that keeps cropping up. Long, hard days at my day job. Nights of errands and chores at the old homestead (I KNOW, NaNo is the month to let it all slide, but when you have caretaking responsibilities, well, some things just have to come first). I cram my writing into my commute (3 hours daily, round trip on train and bus). I write during my lunch hour (when I can take it). (Which adds another wrinkle to this writing race – I write long-hand a great deal of the time and then have to transcribe onto the computer; which means duplicated effort for the same output BUT I can’t lug my laptop around without getting my back out of whack.) And I’m still holding out great hope for my nights – fingers crossed that they are uneventful and uninterrupted and that my Mother’s snarky mood dissipates sooner, rather than later.

Everyone participating in NaNo has a bugaboo that gets them all worked up, stymied, stumped or depressed. An internal editor who makes that Prada-wearing Devil seem like Mother Theresa. Family responsibilities that suck the life right out of you. Too many demands from the job that keeps a writer in WiFi. Physical ailments, and even the negative feedback from friends and family members who, maybe, just don’t “get it”, and don’t hesitate to tell you it is a waste of time. Maybe the no-holds barred writing style is not YOUR style. Your plot isn’t holding together, your research isn’t sufficient, you hate your characters, a different story is tickling your cerebral funny bone.

Each problem is like a big old speed-bump on the NaNo highway.

But I’m nothing if not up for the challenge (whether I’m am up TO it, will be determined). So I’m forging ahead. I’ll let the support and enthusiasm of the wild and crazy NaNo’ers buoy me up. I’ll set my alarm for 15 minutes earlier to jump start my day. And I’ll turn a blind eye to the dust bunnies and worry about a healthy diet later AND I’ll say a little prayer for me.

If you are afraid you’re backsliding, or having a rough time of it, you aren’t alone! Keep your nose to the grindstone, your shoulder to the wheel, and think of me. Toiling away amid the dust and unwashed laundry as I frantically try to commit murder, have my protagonists fall in love while heating up the sheets with kinky sex, AND catch a serial killer!

By 11:59 PM, on 11/30/10, in 50,000 words or more.


  1. Lisa, you said perfectly what many other Nano participants are saying this year - it's a global epidemic! But just like you -- I am persevering. I am at slightly under 7k words -- so I am behind too. Let's snap on our seatbelts and get ready to put rocket fuel in our gastanks!

  2. Lise,

    You'll be fine honey. Don't worry about the guts of the research, get the thing down on "paper" and worry about editing, researching and whatever later when you aren't under a time crunch. Write whenever you have a few minutes. On your lunch hour, in the bathroom (ok maybe not), but you get the gist of what I'm saying. You'll be there in no time and yes, you can make up the 13k words you got behind on. Run with it babe!

    ~ Sandy

  3. You are thinking too much. JUST WRITE! I know you can do know it too.

  4. JennaVictoria - what a great idea! Super-charge that NaNo sucker! I'll have to use my "visualization" techniques and see myself like Vin Diesel in The Fast and the Furious!

    Good luck with NaNo and hey, I envy you those 7,000 words! You go!

  5. Sandy I usually wouldn't sweat the minor details, but with the Western I felt I was utterly out of my depth, and couldn't even fathom which general direction to go in. With the kinky stuff? I've got a far better handle on that! (*G*). I'll use you as my model you writing demon, you!

  6. J - simple but eloquent. Just WRITE! It will be my mantra henceforward! Thank you for the support

  7. Two things: (1) DO NOT throw anything anyway. Those words still count. And (2) STOP COUNTING!

    Like Ann said, Just Write and write some more. Don't count words for a week and you'll see you will soon be over the hump.

    Now I am going home and taking my own advice. :-p

  8. Always the most vociferous of supporters, Maria - However, I can't feel that I can count the words toward the 50,000 goal, and certainly can't upload 3 different MS that together total 50,000. But I'm feeling more confident that I can hit the mark even getting a late start!

  9. Dawn - thank you for the short & sweet support. Confidence boosters are wonderful and yours "hit the spot", as my little brother would say! Thank you for reading about my trials and tribulations.

    And as Maria said, BACK TO THE WRITING!

  10. I've got my pom-poms out for you and all who are participating in NaNo.
    Give me a W. Give me a R. Give me an I. Give me a T. Give me an E. What's that spell?


    Now get down to it. I know you can do it. :)

  11. Kudos to you, Lise, and everyone else who has taken on this challenge. I, on the other hand, wouldn't do it unless I was retired -- and then it's still a maybe...
    I admire your enthusiasm, but try not to stress too much!