My 2nd NaNoWriMo: Goals and Expectations

Last year, I participated in NaNoWriMo for the first time. Instead of putting pressure on myself to finish a 50,000-word novel, I used NaNoWriMo as an opportunity to write as much of a long-running project as I could. I achieved my basic goal last year, even though I didn’t have anywhere close to the word count. Unfortunately, that steam died off in the new year, so this year, I have the same basic goal: write as much as I possibly can.


Unlike last year, when I started blind on a wing and a prayer, this year I did NaNo Prep Month, aka October. I’ve done as much research as I could squeeze into 31 days that I would normally spend climbing apple trees and being absurd, and so for the month of November, I’m going to do my own version of NaNo, and get myself one step closer to finishing this little novel child of mine.

I expect to write every day, have a well-planned outline, and maybe even finish a novel! Hooray!

Day after Halloween, hungover and with smudged eyeliner, I begin. If you want to be my NaNo friend and cry with me at 3 a.m., my username is laplusheureuse. 


NaNoWriMo and the plotless novel…

I went into Nano completely blind. It was my first, and it followed an intense period of aggressive writer’s block, a.k.a., the “I-would-rather-scrub-the-bathroom-floor-than-write” period. And no, I didn’t even scrub the bathroom floor. But anyway, I didn’t do the October tradition of plotting the novel, nor did I do anything but preliminary research. I just had an idea and ran with it. Well…

After the initial ten days or so I realized I had no plot. I still kind of don’t. And I realized that I wasn’t nervous about it, which comes back to my mindset entering NaNoWriMo. I wanted to give myself the freedom to lose Nano. I didn’t want to put pressure on myself to finish 50,000 words by the end of the month and risk burning myself out and not writing again for months. Slow and steady was my motto, and it’s not sucking so far 🙂

I’ve had the time to let the story evolve, and it’s still evolving, still slowly. I’m doing research as I go, which isn’t great for the continuity of the novel but it’s allowed me to grow as a writer. It’s let me find out what my limitations are, how I learn, how I get inspired. It’s also challenged my determination and discipline. I’m still so wrapped up in this story, and Nano or no Nano, I’m so excited to find out where it will take me.

Chasing Inspiration

I’ve always found that reading a favorite poet or novel can seriously help with lagging inspiration. I usually turn to Rilke or Tennyson for that little oomph I need. Reading Rilke’s poems, I came across one that I hadn’t read before, one that I loved and put me in the right mood for writing:

[Dove that ventured outside]

Dove that ventured outside,      flying far from the dovecote:
housed and protected again,      one with the day, the night,
knows what serenity is,      for she has felt her wings
pass through all distance and fear      in the course of her wanderings.

The doves that remained at home,      never exposed to loss,
innocent and secure,      cannot know tenderness;
only the won-back heart      can ever be satisfied: free,
through all it has given up,      to rejoice in its mastery.

Being arches itself      over the vast abyss.
Ah the ball that we dared,      that we hurled into infinite space,
doesn’t it fill our hands      differently with its return:
heavier by the weight      of where it has been.

I’ve also always loved the idea of pulling titles from poems that have inspired and informed your writing. As NaNoWriMo winds down (as does my word count), I find that I have to push myself and find ways to give myself energy. The initial excitement has dissipated, but little things can help prolong the energy. Rilke is always one of them.

My First NaNoWriMo, Please Send Cookies

I have officially signed up for NaNoWriMo. It’s absolutely nerve-wracking. It’s the first time I’ve even considered signing up for this monthlong novel-writing frenzy, and I’m both excited and nervous. Wish me luck! Also: with my sister’s wedding in a month and a new article quota at my job, I don’t expect my word count to be above 3,000. That’s a short story, right? 😉

Username is laplusheureuse. Feel free to send absurdities to my inbox if you’re participating yourself! Or a package of cookies, please.