Oh, no! NaNoWriMo!

I read an article the other day that said nobody wants to read another blog about writing. Apparently, there are too many out there already.  I was unaware of that, but I don’t want to be accused of adding to that plethora, so I will state upfront that this is not a post about writing.  Not really.  It’s about creativity and our response to it.  And it’s about discipline, too.

A few weeks ago, shortly after my Hampton Roads Writers’ conference, I went to Michael’s, a craft store, and bought a bunch of fine-point art pens with ten different colors of ink and a large art pad of unlined drawing paper.  It was for planning out my novel.  I bought them in response to one of the workshops I attended at the conference.  One of the authors said planning on unlined paper will stimulate the right side of your brain.  I added the colored pens to make it even more fun.  I brought my choices to the cashier, a young girl in her early 20’s or perhaps not even out of her teens, and she asked me if I was an artist.  I said no, I wasn’t an artist, I was a writer, and these items were to help with my creativity.  She got excited.  “What are you writing?” she asked.  I wanted her just to ring up my items and let me get out of there.  I didn’t want to talk about what I was attempting to do.  I mumbled something about writing a novel, hoping that would be the end of it.  “Wow!  A novel!  What’s it about?”  I did not want to talk about it to this stranger.  I should have just said I was buying art supplies for my granddaughters or something else that would shut. her. up.  I told her I was just beginning it and wasn’t ready to talk about it yet.  Before I could finish, she said, “Oh, do you need an illustrator?  I’m a great illustrator.  Let me give you my number and …” I interrupted her and told her that no, I did not need an illustrator.  My novel was definitely not going to have pictures, and I was sorry, but I was in a hurry, so could she just ring me up. 

On my way home, I thought about how insecure I felt mentioning that I was writing a novel, as if it made me look like I thought I was really a writer, and how egotistical is that?  Besides, if you tell people, then they might really expect you to put your money where your mouth is.  So, now I’ve really done it.  Shary Hover, another blogger and wonderful writer, challenged me to participate in NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, that starts November 1.  The goal is to write 50,000 words of your novel during the month of November.  There is no way I can possibly write that many words, especially since I will be taking one week off  when my husband and I will be spending Thanksgiving week with all my children, their spouses, and my two lovely granddaughters.  But can I write 20,000 words?  I don’t know, but I can set that as a personal goal and work towards that.  No matter how close I get, I’m willing to bet that it will be considerably more than what I would have produced had I not challenged myself, so thank you, Shary, for urging me to go for it.

Isn’t that the way it should be for anything we hope to accomplish? We may be nervous about sharing our plans lest we make fools of ourselves in our eyes.  I don’t know why creativity brings out the insecurities in us.  After the month of November is over, I might just set another goal for myself:  To practice my violin one hour a day until I can make it sound sweet enough, my husband doesn’t run upstairs to use the shredder.

About Coming East

I am a writer, wife, mother, and grandmother who thinks you're never too old until you're dead. My inspiration is Grandma Moses who became a successful artist in her late 70's. If I don't do something pretty soon, though, I'll have to find someone older for inspiration.
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36 Responses to Oh, no! NaNoWriMo!

  1. Pingback: Writing Practice | I choose how I will spend the rest of my life

  2. Thank you for sharing your venture with us. I’m rooting for you. The colored pens sound like a great idea to keep all the plot/character/setting/dialog lines straight…or however you organize it. You can simply pick up a color and say I think I will write in “green” today or “blue” and “red” to find the “purple” in the story. Best wishes to you. And good for you to stay in keeping with the spirit, but adjusting to a 20,000 word goal. Isabel Allende always starts her novels in January,btw.

  3. Leah says:

    Shary is quite the inspiration because she inspired me to sign up for NaNoWriMo too. I’ve never done it before and don’t know how I’ll get 50,000 words. But I’m excited to try. It’s more fun knowing we’re all in this together. Good luck!

  4. pattisj says:

    Your desk is so neat! I had to clean mine off today to make room for the laptop. I do most of my writing in the recliner, though. We’ll see where I end up. 🙂 I had to laugh about the shredder, too. When my brother wanted to learn to play Grandpa’s fiddle, he was sent to a far end of the property. At least you get to stay inside!

  5. How exciting–keep us posted! I heard about an online writing program called ‘scriveners’ I believe. I will never use Microsoft Word again to write a long manuscript! (Because I don’t know how 🙂
    Proud of you, CE!

  6. Judith says:

    After I published my book a friend said that I should now put author on my cards. But I felt that I hadn’t really earned that title as I had self published the book. But now some years later, I am more open about what I am doing although sometimes I get strange looks when I say that I write a blog each day. One ‘friend’ asked who would read the blogs. That put be back on my feet for a while.
    I love the idea of the coloured pens and will perhaps copy that idea. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and doings with us. 😀

    • Coming East says:

      You are, indeed, an author, Judith, as all of us bloggers are. And aren’t we all “self publishing” every time we post? I’m really enjoying the colored pens. Hope you do, too.

  7. gaycarboys says:

    I completely agree. Also, as for the novel, there is at least one novel in everyone. On that front, I have started my novel at least 100 times. That the bit that I find frustrating:) It’s a shame we don’t have the nonononnononononono thingie here in OZ:)

  8. It sounds like you’re already off to a good start — getting the creative juices flowing. As for me, good grief, I have enough trouble finding time to sit down to write in my blog a couple of times a week, let alone 50,000 words and in the month of November no less! AHHH! Alas, I don’t think there is a novel in me. I’m much better at the real world than the make-believe one because I’m just not that imaginative, but I greatly admire those people who are, like you! Can’t wait to see how things progress for you.

    • Coming East says:

      I don’t know if I have a novel in me, either, Mama. I think I do, but let’s see how far I get. When I hit the big time, I’ll remember to thank all the little people who inspired me. LOL! And I love your blogging, Mama. That takes a ton of creativity, too.

  9. Huffygirl says:

    I completely understand your trepidation Susan. Honest people like you (and me) feel like once we say we’re going to do something, we have to do it. Saying it makes it real – no backing out, and that’s scary. I know you’ll do well, and maybe turn your NaNo into a polished novel some day. I too wonder why they scheduled it for November – I would be more likely to do it in January or February, when it’s crummy weather and not much else going on. Course then they couldn’t call it NaNo – they’d have to come up with another catchy name. Good luck.

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks for the encouragement, HG. I thought NaNo stood for National Novel, so they could use any month. Maybe I misread (or didn’t read at all!) what NaNo stands for.

  10. Amy says:

    Writing is like weaving ideas, stories, and thoughts together, simultaneously, blended with words and styles. You have such a great talent that can make your readers echo, smile, laugh, cry, and think. We are all so lucky to be your readers. Happy writing, Susan!

  11. winsomebella says:

    It is scary to tell people about something you wish to accomplish because not only are you risking failure, you are risking the possibility of a witness to that failure. Little steps add up though. You’ve got a great workspace, your unlined pad and pencils, and the words in your head to bring forth that novel. No matter how short of long it is.

  12. Oh, those stupid articles that tell you the hows, whats, and whys of blogging! Do not listen. It isn’t that there’s no room for another blog about writing – there’s just no room for another BAD blog about writing. You, my dear, do not fit into that category. Write a blog about whatever you want to, and stop reading whatever site told you that little bit of nonsense.

    As for NaNoWriMo – go for it! You can totally do this! Just give yourself permission to write badly. It’s okay to just skim through a scene, or open with the lamest line you’ve ever heard. First drafts are not for perfecting the language – they are a brain dump of ideas. And they’ll come out faster if you allow them to be imperfectly formed. The second draft (as I am rather painfully discovering) is basically a complete re-write anyway, so you might as well not waste too much time on the perfect line of dialogue the first time through – it’s likely to get rewritten, or even cut, anyway.

    If you have time during all that writing frenzy – tell us how you’re doing. Because again, a GOOD blog about writing is always welcome 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      Thanks for the encouraging words, Amy. That’s the fun of NaNoWriMo. It expects your writing to be awful. It is totally about the quantity, not the quality. But, as I told my students over and over again, you have to get something down on paper before you and truly begin to work with it.

  13. I am already cheering for you. If anyone can do it, it’s you!

  14. Certainly no harm in trying. I think we get insecure because if we tell people what we want to do and don’t come through, we feel we’ve failed. There’s no failure if no one knows we’re trying! My personal plan is to write my entire novel in secret, then get it published and say, “Voila! I wrote a book! Merry Christmas!” Though I might have to write it under a pseudonym since a great deal of my plot involves a character not at all unlike my mother, who will be devastated if she knows it’s my book.


    • Coming East says:

      If you write it in secret, SC, then there isn’t anyone to keep you on track. I think that, just because I mentioned I want to do this, I’ve had encouragement and support that makes me not want to disappoint them. Yes, that’s definitely pressure, but…no, wait a minute…I feel a major insecurity attack coming on. You’re right, SC. So much better to write in secret!

  15. Margie says:

    That would be like writing about 3 blog posts a day. I think if I had a novel in my head, I could do it! Unfortunately I don’t have a novel in me. But you do, so what a great time to take the first step!
    I understand what you mean by being timid about sharing a plan. My blog had been up and running for a year before I told a single person! I think I enjoyed doing something without thinking about how friends and family would react to it.

  16. Shary Hover says:

    I have such a hard time telling people about my writing. It’s how I spend so much of my time, but I do feel foolish admitting it since I know my chances of publishing my work are slim no matter how hard I work. That’s what I love about participating in NaNoWriMo. When my goal is reaching 50,000 words in 30 days, I don’t have time for self-consciousness. My inner critic is drowned out by the clacking of my fingers on the keyboard. I’m so glad you decided to join in.

  17. lol, use the shredder… well, here’s a shout of encouragement from South Dakota!

  18. So happy to hear you’re going for it! I am so tempted — but don’t think I want to switch gears away from the draft I’m revising to tackle another work in progress…. I’ll be with everyone in spirit (and hard editing work) if not in word count. P.S. I LOVE your desk and colored markers. What a great idea…. maybe I need to go to the art store — and I will definitely tell them I’m a writer and my writer friend gave me this great advice for getting started on a new novel…

  19. E.C. says:

    Now that you mention Nano & Thanksgiving being in the same month, it’s makes me wonder why they would choose November for it. Thousands of people may be more apt to join in if there wasn’t holiday plans and visits interfering.
    20,000 words sounds like more than a plenty for your goals. Have fun and write that novel. 🙂

    • Coming East says:

      I know, E.C. NaNoWriMo should be in January when people finally have down time after the holidays. January is such a long, dreary month. It would be the perfect writing month.

  20. yen says:

    Looking forward to reading about your one week Thanksgiving break with the family, Susan, …and do post some pictures! 😉

    I couldn’t help but smile when I read that part about having insecurities when it comes to sharing our creative plans. I tend to be secretive, too, when I’m in a middle of drawing or sketching and totally afraid to share what I’ve made lest I be laughed at or what.:) But then, most of the times, fears can turn out to be specters after all.

    • Coming East says:

      Okay, Yen, I’m bringing my camera along on our trip. If you ever want to see my granddaughters, hop on over to My Pajama Days. My daughter posts pictures of them once in awhile. You’re right about our fears just being specters. People are usually very impressed with anyone who is willing to put himself or herself out there and take a chance.

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