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Igniting the writing

LitMatchMy writing brain is on fire! In a good way.

It’s because of NaNoWriMo. One of the things I like best about participating is that it reminds me of a few key points that I seem to forget over the course of the year.

For example, when I’m stuck on a current or future plot point, I tend to quit writing and brainstorm until I figure it out. This sometimes means days or even weeks of not writing. During NaNo, however, I have to keep going or I’ll never meet my goal.

And a funny thing happens.

The more I write, the more ideas I have, and the easier they come.

This month the plot bunnies have been multiplying like, well, bunnies in my mind. I’ve been waking up with new visions for my storyline, thinking of story concepts while walking the dog, and solving character dilemmas while driving in my car.

When I first started writing—and couldn’t wait to sit down to do it every day—this happened to me all the time. I was full-to-bursting with ideas on where to take my stories. Somewhere along the way I lost my trust in that process, and I lost the constant flow of revelations.

Pushing myself through NaNoWriMo reminds me that my brain works best when I’m writing.

Sure, I may go off on tangents, and I may end up cutting a lot of what I write later, but that’s okay. If that’s the price of the ideas I need, I’ll take it. And often, even what gets cut becomes useful down the road. If nothing else, it’s practice.

The other thing this challenge always reminds me is that I can write more than I think I can.

On a normal day, I might reach 1000 words and feel like I can’t do much more. Or I might get stumped after writing 876 words and decide it’s a good spot to quit while I ponder what should come next. But since I now need to produce more words to meet the 50K goal, somehow I just push through the 1K barrier, I force myself to write through the tough spot.

And you know what? I can. Every. Time.

Someone remind me of that when January rolls around and I’m struggling again. 😉

These are some of the reasons I participate in NaNoWriMo. It’s about much more than getting down 50,000 words in 30 days. It’s about reigniting my writing.

What about you? Any lessons learned—or relearned—from NaNoWriMo so far?

Image credit: Match: By Sebastian Ritter (Rise0011) (Own work) (CC-BY-SA-2.5 (, via Wikimedia Commons

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    • Reply

      Rosie: That is one problem with it. Scrivener helps keep me on track and lets me work out of order, so that helps. And when I have a really great idea for a book I haven’t started yet, I open Evernote and jot it down. 🙂 Good luck!

  1. Reply

    I’m with you Gwen. I just love everything that unfolds as NaNoWriMo progresses. Each year is different and as I look back, I can definitely see a progression. This year I am trying to work on another project as I do NaNo, it’s not going smoothly as I’d hoped but that’s okay. It’s part of the process. I am easily reaching my daily goals but the second project is hiding under the bed. NaNo is my writer’s BootCamp, I want a quantum leap in my growth. I have a goal in my mind of how much I want to do daily,and I am halfway there. It’s really exciting to actually see the progress during November, it really is a quantum leap!
    I am re-blogging this because it is so easy for many people especially newbies in NaNoWriMo to loose sight of what’s important!

    • Reply

      Great, Christine! I love seeing the word count and hours rack up too. And like you, I’m trying to do two things at once–editing Blind Fury and writing the next book in the series. I’m doing better at editing because I promised it to the editor on a specific date, so I can’t be late. I’m behind on my word count, but still doing pretty well. Just over 14K as of last night. After I get my edits in, I should be able to really take off. Or that’s the plan, anyway. 😉

      Thanks for the reblog and good luck with both of your projects!

  2. Reply

    Great post, Gwen! NANO always reminds me of two things. (1) I can write 2k words a day, even with a full-time job and kids and (2) I can fix those story/character problems without needing a writing retreat or sabbatical. 🙂

    I join writing groups throughout the year that do writing sprints if I need a kick in the pants every now and then. LOL!

    • Reply

      Thanks, Elke! Those are great lessons learned. I sometimes think I was more productive when I worked outside the house because I had to work around those hours. I had to make the time. Now, some days I feel like I have all the time in the world, but then nothing gets done. NaNo gives me that push I need to focus, and helps me reform the habit.

      Hope you get to 50K this year!

      • Jan Petrie



        This is exactly what I tell myself.

        I work with my husband in his business. I’ve gotten myself to the point that I choose to think of my position there as similar to when I was at home with the kids for 16 years.

        Keeper of the Schedule…

        I’m ‘command central’ of everyone appointments, the reminder of where they need to be or doing.

        Which is to me no different than when a production coordinator for a book publisher sans ‘b.k’s.’ (my former life before marriage & kids). Which was good mom-hood practice also.

        So while I do have a job, I set myself at work goals, like once I achieved something for his biz then I get an hour of writing time.

        There’s certain job security there (lol) and while hub’s biz would never be anything I’d aspire to run on my own, it has its moments of inspiring situations and drama that I wouldn’t think of if writing in seclusion. So I jot down those nuggets while focusing on my writing.

        • Reply

          Jan: Those at-work goals are a great way to push yourself while also finding the time to get your writing in. I used to know a guy who wrote on every break and during every moment of downtime on the job. He took his laptop everywhere.

          The one thing I miss about my old job is that exposure to the craziness of the workplace. Just from an idea-generation standpoint of course. 😉 Thanks for stopping by!

  3. Reply

    I think what makes NaNo special is that it forces you to be a little selfish about your writing time. So often, we’re expected to fit it in amongst our other duties. NaNo lets us put the writing first, and that’s a wonderful thing.

    Great post, Gwen!

    • Reply

      Great point, Diana. It’s easier to justify putting our writing first when it’s only for 30 days. It’s a habit I’m trying to develop for the whole year though. 😉 Thanks!

  4. Reply

    Terrific post, Gwen! We must be in the same state of frenzy with ideas for plot and character seemingly flying at us from all directions as we pound our way through NaNoWriMo! Last year, my first go at it, was a daily struggle to write something decent and worthy of being included in the wird count. This time, meeting the daily challenge doesn’t seem so daunting. I find that using Scrivener has really made the whole process easier and much more organized. Like you, I love writing out of order, and when one of those “frenzied” ideas for an ending hit me this morning, I cranked the idea into a logical conclusion. And though there remain eons of plot and conflict to write, at least I know how it’s all going to end. It rests there at the bottom of the manuscript in the Binder, waiting for everything else to catch up! 🙂

    • Reply

      That’s great, CortlandWriter! I don’t write out of order too often, but I love that it’s easy to keep track of those scenes when inspiration strikes. Keep burning up the keyboard! 🙂

  5. Reply

    Tangents are good. Some of these you might need for the present work… or some other work later. They also inspire exciting changes you hadn’t counted on. Good luck, Gwen, with your aggressive pen. Have wonderful day.

  6. Reply

    I agree, loujenhaxmyor. I’m trying to remember to “write big” and not self-censor. I’d much rather decide it’s junk later than miss out on a nugget that’s gold. Good luck to you too. Thanks!

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