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This is a drill

There are no prizes for NaNoWriMo winners, so what do writers get out of it? Bragging rights, a 50,000-word novel that may or may not suck eggs, and a month of pulling out our hair, to start.

It's the drill–basic training for published life–because I'm sure NaNo is nothing compared to the pressure of fulfilling a contract. And arguments about quantity versus quality aside, for me, the benefit of NaNoWriMo is the forced discipline. Oh yeah, and the total recalibration of my sense of what I can do. It used to be a push to write 1000 words per day, and I’m a stay-at-home mom. Now I’m getting daily counts like 2800 and 3600.

But those numbers are a byproduct of the discipline required to make 50K in one 30-day month happen. It’s so, so easy to take all that “free” time while my kids are at school and waste it. Sleep, laundry, cleaning, and grocery shopping all call to me. Okay, that’s a big fat lie, only sleep calls to me. The rest scream at me that they’ve been ignored far too long. I can tank a whole day reading email, Twitter, blog posts, craft books, and delicious new novels by my favorite authors.

All the fun things and all the the little things I must do, like work out, cook, eat, talk to my family, and walk the dog, compete with writing.

So, back to NaNo. If I want to make it, and have my Golden Heart entry ready to submit on time, I MUST sit down and write every day. And because of Thanksgiving and guests and swim meets on the weekends, I’m shooting for at least 2700 words on weekdays.

And because I removed 4400 words over the weekend (in spite of my outline, I took a wrong turn and it had to be undone), I must now write 3100 words every weekday this week. Yesterday I did it without too much trouble. A few writing sessions with my tea timer on, a quick review of my outline to keep me on track, and an understanding of how I went wrong on Friday, and I was cooking with gas.

That’s a good day. On bad days, that NaNo deadline is the drill instructor in my face. The little push I need to go further.

If I take nothing else away from NaNoWriMo, I hope I can keep this newfound discipline and sense that I can do so much more than I ever thought possible. Until we have a contract and a publisher setting the deadlines for us, there’s no reason we can’t set our own. Tell your spouse, your CP, or everyone on Facebook. Then let that be the drill instructor for you. Or reward yourself with chocolate.

Either way, you can probably do a lot more than you ever dreamed.


P.S. Happy birthday to my awesome mother who would have been 62 today. She inspired me to live life based on what really matters, and I miss her every day.

Tell your friends!


  1. Curtis


    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    ” Oh yeah, and the total recalibration of my sense of what I can do. ….. Now I’m getting daily counts like 2800 and 3600.”

    🙂 I would never say I told you so. Never would I do that. 🙂 Nope, not going to bring it up.

    And, I bet this piece, ” This Is the Drill” just rolled out like pouring water out of a glass. Be easy on yourself. Don’t waste energy on the ” why haven’t I been doing this all along.” Enjoy the new toy. Don’t beat on it with a hammer. 🙂

    The down hill run of NaNo may be the most fun. It picks up speed. Write on.

    • Reply

      I wondered if you’d have to chime in, Curtis. I definitely thought of you. I’ve had some stellar days. Back in the very, very beginning of writing time (early 2009), I wrote 9K in one day on a complete roll with the scene in my head.

      I’ve always known I could write more if I made it happen, so that’s what NaNo has done. Forced me to make it happen. Thanks for the support of, and faith in, me. 😉

  2. spleeness


    Happy birthday to your mom too… thinking of you & her today.

    I hope to keep some of the discipline too…!

  3. Reply

    I am so totally failing this year. It’s been ridiculously impossible to find time to write while buying a house, selling a house, and moving. I’ve had a few good days, but mostly I have stretches of low or no wordcount days with a 10K day thrown in here and there.

    I’m sorry about your mom.


    • Reply

      Thanks, Kali. I know how hard it is to write when moving. Mine suffered big time over the summer. But hey, you just need five of those 10K days. 😉

      No seriously, just relax and deal with the move. Maybe your brain will come up with something fabulous while you’re unpacking in your new house. Good luck with the move and the writing!

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