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Headshot of me wearing red lipstick Kara Babcock

A look back at NaNoWriMo

Published .


I meant to post this earlier, but somewhere along the way I forgot about it. Anyway.

At the end of October, the part of me that is absolutely, certifiably insane decided that I would be doing NaNoWriMo this November. This was two days before the start. I had no outline, only the inklings of a story idea, and I knew November was going to be busy in terms of both school and work.

"Oh, it'll be fine," Certifiably Insane Ben said to Rational Cautious Ben.

"This will all end in tears," Rational Cautious Ben replied, then booked tickets for a far away island.

Well Rational Cautious Ben returned at the beginning of December to take a look at what Certifiably Insane Ben wrote in November. Suffice it to say I didn't reach the goal of 50,000 words. I reached 27,145 words on November 19 and it stayed that way for the rest of the month. Now, I know that it isn't about achieving the 50,000 mark (although that's nice). I know that it's about actually starting to write, actually doing something instead of just saying I'll start to write. So in that respect, I accomplished something.

Prior to this year I've eschewed NaNoWriMo, mostly to avoid this sort of disappointment. Time management has always been a personal demon--not so much procrastination as a pathological avoidance of any sort of completion. I'm sure most will agree: it's easy to start new projects, but the trick is to finish them. I've managed it once or twice, and the results were usually mediocre enough that the very achievement of finishing was better than the final product.

It's clear that two days before NaNoWriMo began wasn't the most practical time to make the decision to participate. I don't write with a firm outline, but I always have a well-formed idea of how the beginning, middle, and especially the end. This time I came up with a plot synopsis in two days, and the end was . . . well, it just happened to be the end. It wasn't the end that grows organically in my head over the course of several weeks as I meditate on my latest, greatest plot obsession.

I've had a taste of how the other side lives now, and I don't think I'll be doing NaNoWriMo next year. November just isn't a good month in which to try and knock out 50,000 consecutive words. All the more power to those of my friends who managed to achieve or exceed their goal! Congratulations! As for me, I'm going to put aside the project I worked on in November and spend December trying to come up with a more fully-realized idea. And reading lots more books.