I’m blaming April!

I must be out of my cotton-picking mind. It’s November… I am juggling one zillion things with college applications, letters of recommendation still to be written, baby blog still waiting to be named (thanks CJ, April, Jay and Megan for your feedback), a relationship with my sweet one, cooking sometimes (warming up at the very least) and the systematic location and destruction of dust-bunnies.

And yet…

April has recommended this fantastic site called 43 things… it is a site where you can keep an ongoing list of short term and long term goals. You can write entries about your (however feeble) attempt to meet your goals and other users can send you a “cheer” to cheer you on. I dig the way the site is set up as it allows you to see how many people share your goals and you can access their lists to see what else they are working on. Some people are way new-agey about the whole thing: I myself have goals such as give up diet coke (yes, it’s been two weeks now) and pay off my credit card. So much research shows that we are more likely to meet goals that we have recorded. I am a fan of “SMART” goals; goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. So I have been looking at other people’s goals (it is, admittedly, a little like snooping through someone’s bathroom cupboard… but with their permission) and today I found a reference to completing something called NaNoWriMo. Wouldn’t you want to know more? (I thought so!)

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it is, of course, November. NaNoWriMo is a contest to get regular (procrastinating) people writing novels or, at the very least, 50,000 words of a novel, during the month of November. The idea is not to have a polished novel by November 30th but to get the words down. Mountains of words. December (and the months that follow it) are for editing. So I think that this is the most fantastic thing I have heard in a while. A contest (no big prize… just the satisfaction of finishing) that forces you to write more than a thousand words a day. Tremendous! So I go out to the dining room where DP is marking and I tell him about this contest and isn’t this just the worst time for me to contemplate writing a novel and he says, “hmmmm?” because, as I said, he is marking! So I go back to the computer, register, and start typing. After the first weekend, I copied and pasted all of my shiny new words into the NaNo WriMo website.. and the word count validator (I think that’s what it is called) told me that I had already written about 8000 words. Ha!

As of 8:20 this evening, I am up to 11,394 words. They aren’t all perfect words… nor are they perfectly placed yet but there is a very cool rhythm driven by the terror of the November 30th deadline.

People, all over the world, have been writing novels for the NaNoWriMo contest since 1999. Last year 79,000 people entered the contest and 13,000 of those finished. How cool is that? I was curious to learn if any novels I might have heard of started out as NaNoWriMo novels; it turns out that Sara Gruen has written two NaNoWriMo novels: Flying Changes (HarperCollins, 2005) and Water for Elephants (Algonquin, 2007).

The site recommends that you tell everyone you know that you are writing a novel. I am telling you.

50,000 words by the end of the month? No problem. And if it doesn’t work out, I am blaming it on April!


  1. Hey Monna!I have not been checking in frequently enough – I still blame the RSS/ping/login phenomenon – but am glad to hear about your goals and new blog and up and coming novel. Encouragement. You sound like you're thinking of getting a whole domain for the new blog – why are you thinking about this instead of another [free] blogspot blog?Also, kudos on the success notwithstanding, why on Earth would you be giving up Diet Coke?

  2. Ex-cell-ent (evil Mr Burns voice) my plan to drive the world mad is working. 🙂 I am glad you like the site – I like it too. I found lots of things to add to my list by peeping at other lists too. I actually bought myself a camera to start taking "real" pictures and I've only been thinking about that for about 4 years now. But you are right- putting it down on a list somehow makes it "doable". Good luck on the writing. Cheers! -april

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