Ushering in JaNoWriMo


I’ve always been intrigued by NaNoWriMo, the National Novel Writing Month project that sees coffeeshops in Missoula and around the country filled with haggard writers, pounding away at their keyboards, trying to achieve the 50,000 words that will comprise the framework of a first draft.

Problem is, NaNoWriMo falls in November, and I had a novel deadline in December, way too quick a turnaround from first draft to polished work. But with another novel due next December, I decided to do my own NaNoWriMo, only in January. Hence, JaNo … you get the idea.

Then some friends got in on the act. (Not naming names, but you know who you are, you Badasses you.) Next thing you know, we were all setting goals like crazy. And rewards. Because work is way more fun with a big honkin’ treat at the end.

If I make it to my goal (70,000 words by Feb. 1; I’ve already written 20,000), I’m buying myself a bottle of Lagavulin, and probably crawling right into it.

Always before, I’ve set a first-draft goal of a thousand words a day, which in retrospect feels like a lovely, leisurely pace. My new goal works out to about 1,700 words a day, which results in serious panic when I hit 1,000 words and I don’t know where the story needs to go next [Plot? Schmot!] and the goddamn clock is ticking, ticking, ticking. Here’s the thing. Each time, I’ve come up with a move that feels like desperation, but that by the end of the day looks pretty good in retrospect.



I got a pair of cross-country skis for Christmas, and this sort of writing is uncomfortably similar to my first outings on those slippery, sliding things. My reaction to each downhill, when I feel totally out of control as the skis carry me faster and faster, has been “Eek, eek, eek, oh, gosh, that was fun.”

That’s what these flights of forced creativity are like. Will all of them survive the revisions? Probably not. But oh, gosh, it’s fun to see these unexpected twists and turns.

Happy New Year, all, and happy–or, at least, productive–writing!

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