29STORIES Check-In #5: So Maybe I’m Doing NaNoWriMo?

29STORIES Check-In #5: So Maybe I’m Doing NaNoWriMo?featured

Oh yes. These are back. Hopefully for good (at least through next May or so).

Let’s back up.

In, what, mid-July? I think? I completely lost motivation and inspiration for…everything, really, for various reasons. I never quite “gave up” on this project but I definitely shoved it to the back of my mind and the end of my priority list, saying “maybe once I get all this other shit worked out I’ll be able to figure something out for that.” (When I wasn’t saying that, I was scolding myself and feeling guilty for stalling and sputtering so easily.)

Here’s the thing. Short stories (however you define them) are not my thing, really. No matter what I do, the plots and characters I come up with are big and complex and sprawling and I just have no idea how I can possibly contain them all into something that wouldn’t at least be called a novella. There’s something about structuring and telling short tales I just have never really been able to grasp. But I wanted to do something different than say “This year I’m going to write my novel!” so this little project was born.

July, August, and September passed and I (mostly) picked myself up and got (mostly) back on track. I’m still in the process of getting more clarity and revising some business systems and making short- and long-term plans, but the motivation and momentum is back.

Except for fiction writing. I made a few half-hearted attempts, here and there, but nothing substantial.

29STORIES Check-In #5 {the ponytail diaries}

Then, earlier this week, I was walking Onyx and somehow, NaNoWriMo popped into my head. I don’t know, maybe I saw something on Instagram or skimmed a blog post that mentioned it (since October is the unofficial “planning and pre-writing” month for many NaNoWriMo participants). I had sort of already written it off, since I’m not (supposed to be) writing a novel and didn’t want yet another thing pulling my focus away from where I need it to be right now.

But then I thought, who’s to say I can’t make my own NaNoWriMo attempt? Who says I have to write a “novel” in November? What if I just use it as more of a jump-start to get back on track with what I still want to accomplish before my 30th birthday?

I mulled it over a little but I think I’d already made the snap decision.

2,000 words a day, every day in November — on 30 different stories.

Most likely these stories won’t be “complete” at 2,000 words or 5,000 words or 10,00 words. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll just end up with 30 collections of scenes from 30 different (probably crappy) novels. Maybe I’ll find the one story that pulls me in and I decide to devote the next few months to completing the draft, revising, editing, workshopping, and finishing it. Maybe I find five or six stories I can possibly tell in 10-20K words and start pouring more energy into them. Maybe on December 1st I’ll wake up and think “man, did I really spend that much time on that? What was I thinking?” (Maybe I’ll start thinking that by November 5th…)

I think the main point is to start practicing, really practicing, “butt in chair” time, if nothing else. If by the end of November, I don’t have a single piece that’s workable or interesting, fine, at least I’ll have built up the habit of sitting down for an hour a day (or however long it takes) to work on making up stories and writing them down.

I mean, I hope I come up with at least one or two pieces that could be worked into something good.

So what am I doing now? Well, we’re just over halfway through October already (wtf?) and I’m committed to three things for the rest of the month:

  1. Free-writing on 750words every day.
  2. Brainstorming and very roughly outlining two potential stories a day (so I go into November with some ideas already prepped and “ready to go,” as much as possible).
  3. Completing at least two character sketches each day. These may be characters for the stories I outline or just other random ideas that come to me.

I’ve been doing the outlining and character sketching by hand, so I probably need to either type those up at some point or scan them into Evernote or something. One in particular has really grabbed hold of me and I find myself going back to that one and adding little bits and ideas. I think that’s a good sign.


  • Good luck!!! I know this dance well (oh, so we’ll). Being motivated and excited, getting started, thinking this time it’s gonna happen – and then losing focus, motivation, or stamina. I’ve been through it many times myself, but never able to quit, because deep down? I know I want to do this. And so do you. I like to think that we are always working on our writing all, and the times off are just breaks. 😉 We’ve got this!

    • Thanks Miriam! I love thinking that the slow times are just breaks. The key is to make those breaks shorter and less frequent, right? Good luck!!