National Novel Writing Month: We Switched to Sprint

T.S. Eliot was wrong. April isn’t the cruelest month. It’s November, and for good reason: Everyone is so crazy busy. For me, it brings the Crime Bake writers conference, last call for NH real estate before the snows, multiple sets of house guests, two Thanksgivings, and…my annual attempt to jam out 50,000 words on a brand new manuscript for NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month)

November first was a banner writing day. I killed that word count. Days Two and Three…not so much. And then I completely lost my mojo. As the words dwindled, so did my confidence in belting out nearly an entire novel in thirty days.

I found myself in deep despair, resorting to bribing myself with cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. The sugar high lasted for an hour or two, but I finally had to admit that this was not one of my better ideas. The butt I had vowed to glue to my writing chair would be a whole lot bigger before I typed The End.

Luckily, coffee has no calories, so I took full advantage of the excuse for added caffeine (Confession: I subbed higher-calorie cappuccinos from the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru.)

When the extra zing didn’t help much either, I broke down and attempted to write an actual outline, instead of flying by the aforementioned seat of my pants. My new plan was to count all those words toward my daily goal. But alas, that was also a #TotalFail. I had nothing. And now I had to bribe my Inner Editor, who kept popping up with well-meaning advice. So how did that go? Don’t ask.

Luckily, I was not alone in this daunting endeavor. It turned out I was in the best company ever: three of my fellow Chicks were also on board for a thirty-day crash schedule of writing pain.  (Chick Five already writes every day on a regular schedule and tunes out all distractions—even, on occasion, the rest of us and our long, chatty text threads. And the equally-virtuous Chick Six is busy editing her latest manuscript on deadline, but checks in to cheerlead).

As we discussed our individual progress (or lack thereof), we had a wonderful, awful idea: Together, we would attempt a modest, 30-minute word sprint. Maybe even two. And once we figured out all the time zones (between the four of us, EST, MST, and PST), the game was on—fueled by Combined Chick Power, far-flung optimism and…yes, maybe a few tiny blasts of our go-go juices of choice.

And guess what? IT WORKED!!!! So well, in fact, that we’ve established regular drop-in shifts at one, four, seven-thirty, and ten pm EST. We post our word counts, cheer the highs and especially the lows, and even share our favorite (or, shall we say, most memorable) lines. Chick Five even joined us for a few sprints just to keep us company–and finished the first draft of her single-title novel!

So congrats to all you writers out there, pounding away at your keyboards—and readers, we NaNo Chicks hope to (eventually) bring you books you’ll enjoy reading as much as we enjoy writing them. Because we do—a lot—even if we give in to productive bouts of despair every now and then along the way.

November is more than halfway over now. But take heart, NaNos and NaNoettes. No matter how many words we pile up during these thirty days that are sometimes-exhilarating, often cruel—and always way too short—remember this: We are all WINNERS!!!!

So, any other writers out there who share our pain–or readers with a special project you’re working on right now? Or are you focusing on kicking off the holiday season? Let us know in the comments below!

22 thoughts on “National Novel Writing Month: We Switched to Sprint

  1. You always find the best GIFs! And with all that you’re doing, I do NOT know how you’re managing NaNo too. (But I’m so glad you are–and the sprints have been such an inspiration!) I don’t even know how you managed to write this post. Standing ovation from me, my friend.

    I wish NaNo were in any other month (except December). November is already so frantic. But then it would have a different name. (JanNo has a fine ring, doesn’t it?)

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am totally failing at NaNo this year. Serious epic fail. Writing a story just for me. It will never leave my laptop because of the premise. I keep staring at the blank screen. The characters are mocking me, daring me to to make them do anything, telling me #dumbestideaever! But I keep plugging away, just to get it out of my head. I reached 50,404 yesterday. Yay me! I will keep writing it till the end of the month, then forget about it forever.

    But in December, that is a different story all together. I wrote a 1940s pulp fiction short story based on my BFF over the spring. She was upset when she read it, because it was too short. I believe her exact words were “what? It can’t be over! I want more!” So I will do two more for a 🎄 🎁 , with a promise of 6 more next year.

    The benefits of being unpublished, you get to do whatever the 🦆 you want! 😂

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Super fun post, Lisa! We’re all getting through NaNo with a little help from our friends, and I’m glad you’re one of mine! Love the cookie gif — and clearly that’s Cynthia typing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mark,
      Chris Baty says he put it in November (his first attempt with just friends was in July) because of the miserable weather, plus the built in holiday weekend, or two if you count federal holidays. But he was in Berkeley, so I’m not sure what miserable weather he was referring to.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Mark, I know, right? I was thinking February is a down, lackluster kind of month. But, then, it’s a short month, so… Although, November shorts us a writing day compared to some other months!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I made a blog for the express purpose of teaching myself how to write. It’s a struggle but I’m trying to take a moderate Steven King approach. Just write. I don’t know if any of it is any good or not but if nothing else it’s something to strive for.

    Liked by 4 people

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