Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Notes from a NaNoWriMo Newbie

This is my first time participating in the National Novel Writing Month challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. Fifty thousand is a phrase to inspire fear and trepidation in any writer—unless you are a hard-core disciplinarian and write that much every month already.
Break it down. How many words do I have to write in a day? 1,666—oooh, that’s a sinister number. A lot of words—yikes!
How many pages is that? Maybe that’s a bite that easier to digest. If you go with the common estimate of 250 words per page, that's six and a half pages. Well, that doesn’t sound too bad, does it? But…some days I struggle to eke out a couple of pages to meet my deadline of meeting with my critique group.
OK, all my objections aside, I signed up to help give myself a deadline, a virtual kick in the pants, and hopefully to develop a better daily writing discipline. So far, I haven’t met the daily goal, but I have been writing every day. That’s better than I was doing before! Maybe, if I quit procrastinating and dig in every day, I’ll eventually hit the 1600+ word-a-day goal! And even if I don’t make the 50,000 words in a month, I’ll be farther ahead than if I’d stuck to my hit-or-miss schedule.
One hint: If you get stuck at a certain place, jump ahead and write a scene in the future, or write the end. Sometimes that frees up the block and gives you ideas about how to fill in the blanks between.
Good luck to all the NaNo participants!

A native Montanan, Heidi Thomas now lives in Northwest Washington. She has just had her first novel published, Cowgirl Dreams, based on her grandmother. Heidi has a degree in journalism, a certificate in fiction writing and is a member of Northwest Independent Editors Guild. She teaches writing and edits, and is working on the next books in her “Dare to Dream” series, and blogs.

Bookmark and Share


  1. hello! i signed up too. am enjoying the journey as its a brand new route for me - am ahead at the moment but i know there will be days with no writing so am trying to stay ahead while i can.
    best of luck! and enjoy.

  2. Good luck, Heidi. It sounds to me as though you have the right attitude and even a plan for when you get stuck. Make sure, though, that you have fun!

    Straight From Hel

  3. Good luck with your efforts, Heidi. I agree that even a little bit is better than nothing, and sometimes we need that added incentive to be disciplined.

  4. I signed up too! I run hot and cold-- sometimes I can get 10 pages done in one day, and sometimes it's nothing.

  5. Heidi, your final hint is EXACTLY what I tell people as well! I never get writer's block, because I will skip ahead and play connect the dots later.

    And 1666 words isn't too bad. Some days it will be 1000, others 3000, so hitting 50,000 is not impossible!

  6. I signed up last year, but unfortunately I just had too much going on to follow through to the end. I hope you do much better, Heidi!

    Morgan Mandel

  7. Best of luck to you Heidi! I gave it a shot last year and fell short. I knew I had no chance this year and didn't sign up...but I'm already planning for next year.

    This year, my role is cheerleader - so Go Heidi! Go Val! Go Christy! I can hear those keyboards clickety clacking.

    Charlotte Phillips
    A Box of Texas Chocolates

  8. Good luck to you and all our fellow NaNo's out there.
    Yep, I'm one as well.
    I completed my first tour of NaNoWriMo duty on last year's event and am currently editing the rough draft from that sitting into a full length novel which I hope to have completed by the end of the year.
    The NaNo system of forcing you to write - just write - for 30 days is a wonderful way to stop all the self editing that many new writers do so much of.
    The key is to get the words on the page, worry about format and style later on just get the page filled!
    I am competing again this year - be sure to visit the site at and say hi to Wordlywise - I could use the encouragement.
    Thanks all Dave T


The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.