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This is yet another incarnation of my personal blog. Here's where you can read about what I do when I'm not at work: hiking, seeing plays and other shows, eating, traveling, etc.

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Nanowrimo 2011

Posted by gck Thursday, December 1, 2011


Since 2003, I’ve done one of two things in the month of November:

1. International travel (2006: London, Belgium; 2007: Spain; 2010: London, France)

2. National Novel Writing Month (2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011)

It’s not part of my master plan or anything, but it has just worked out that way. Both things make November pretty frantic. If I’m writing, I’m using a lot of my time to churn out those 50,000 words. If I’m traveling, I’m busy planning, I’m gone, and suddenly it’s Christmas. But it’s really a good thing. November is the first month where the dreary Seattle winter digs its claws in, and it’s too easy to get lethargic and depressed if there isn’t something to give a little push.


Some reflection on this year’s Nano experience:

1. I’ve gotten my system down better. There have been discussions about what conditions work best for writing. At the beginning of November, thinking back on previous Novembers, I thought that I didn’t have any sort of pattern. Well, it turns out that there are optimal writing conditions for me. I feel like I spent a good deal less time writing this month than I had in previous months because this year’s system worked out so much better for me.

  • I write at night. The later, the better. I’m sure some of my co-workers were wondering if I was exchanging some of my work hours for novel hours. Absolutely not. I’d say a very high percentage of my weekday writing occurred between the hours of 12am and 2am. A few years back, I used to do some of my Nano words at lunch in the cafeteria, and I had intentions to try the same this year, but it really didn’t work out. I did a few hundred words at breakfast once. Other than that, words came best when I knew the workday was done.
  • I write in sprints. This isn’t a new one. Sandy, Jenni, and I have done Write or Die sprints in the past and found them to be effective. But this year, I have it down to a calculated system. I write in 15 minute sprints and average 450 words or so per sprint. This means if I behave, I can get my daily word count in only an hour of writing.
  • I write at home. I definitely did some of my writing outside of my house out of necessity, but I found that home made for the best conditions. In between sprints, I need other things to do, and home is where those things best exist. My cat has been happy about the fact that I’m at home and in a stationary position.


nano2  catrest
(left: my Nano userpic, right: Kitty armrest)

2. I have not been social at all this Nano. I really didn’t intend for it to be this way. Seattle has an AWESOME Nanowrimo community. Normally, I’ll make it to a few write-ins at the beginning of the month and then retreat into my cave for the rest of it, but it just didn’t work out this year. I’m hoping to do better with this next time.

3. I probably shouldn’t be writing fiction. Or I should find a reason for why I’m writing fiction. Each Nano I do, I have this continuous line of thought in my head saying that I am just not a good fiction writer. And it’s totally true. I don’t really have a mission with my writing. I don’t have a story that I’m compelled to tell. I have no desire to work towards publication. And if I’m spending this much of my time to do this sort of writing, I think I need a better reason. It is a fun challenge, and I’ve noticed that writing each day has made me more interested in reading. When I go back and look at previous Nanos, I find little bits of potential. Is it enough? I guess I’ll have to think about it. Maybe next year will be a travel year. =)

4. Staying off Facebook made me look elsewhere for distractions. Not just any distractions… I guess a more accurate term is “sources of information.” I really wanted to read stuff. I finished five books in November (to be fair, I probably started reading two of them before November, but still…). I’ve only read 28 books so far this year, so that’s a lot of books for a month where I was supposed to be spending all of my free time writing. But books weren’t enough, and since I didn’t have Facebook sending me URLs to read, I found myself refreshing my Google Reader, Seattle Times, and Google News a LOT. I imagine there is a more productive way to take advantage of this hunger for information. Will have to exploit it more next time.

5. I’m not saying much about what I’m writing, and I don’t know when I will finish it. The main reason why I’m not talking about my novel is because I don’t like it. However, this doesn’t bother me all that much because I didn’t like the other things I wrote for Nano either, but I’ve had more favorable opinions after leaving the manuscripts alone for a few years and revisiting them. I intend to do the same with this one.

I guess those are my thoughts. Finally, I can sleep before 1am. For anyone out there who’s considering participating in National Novel Writing Month, DO IT! Give it a shot. Aim for the 50,000. It’s possible, no matter what your schedule. And it’s totally worth it.


  1. Mia Says:
  2. This is so old but I need to say something... I did Nano in 2009, my freshman year of college. Finished it. Totally had no social life, which was bad for the first part of college. I've considered doing it since but it's hard when I actually want to be around my friends (and I live with all of them). I did start out 2011 working on a book I started in my childhood, seeing if I could revamp it into something I like (I love the concept... just not the writing style). Might continue that this year.

  3. gck Says:
  4. Yeah, you should definitely continue! For when you move back, Seattle has an active and awesome Nano community so writing isn't as solitary of a thing.


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