How does a NaNoWriMo novel come to be? (and PiBoIdMo update)

If someone were to judge by my word count, one could conclude that all is lost for me.

My NaNoWriMo total does not look good in light of a remainder of four days in which to write 38155 words.  Even so, I can’t say that I agree with that doubt one hundred per cent, because there is still a chance, albeit a slim one. (Does that sound convoluted and writerly enough?)

Have I given up yet? No! Not yet, and I probably won’t until that last stroke of time on November 30. I will keep writing to see how far I can get in those four days.

It isn’t as if I have not been writing, it’s just not down on paper yet. You writers know what I mean. 🙂

This year I have a sketchy outline .. if it can be called an outline – more a list of ideas – a rough plan of where my story is going. I didn’t even have that until 7000 words in – page 24 of my notes – written in long hand, not on computer. My characters have become more complicated, my plot has thickened, and the loose ends are starting to have some meaning to them. Starting, you ask? Well, yes. How do I explain? …

When I began writing this novel for NaNo 2010, I started with nothing. Truly nothing. I prayed. The first line of my story is: I’m not even sure what I’m doing, but here I go anyway. So began my novel, with the main character adopting that line as her beginnings in my evolving story. (I use the word ‘novel’ rather loosely as I have never written one before and that is the goal of NaNo .. to write a 50000 word novel, or the beginnings of a longer one.)

With that first line the character took over, fleshed out as we went along, became a real person in my creative mind. She has a mother, a best friend, a boyfriend, a mystery person to learn about, a ‘treasure’ to research and find, and a whole set of emotions, fears, desires, irritations, and challenges to keep her going. Plus, there is a little humour woven in which makes it more real. (What is life without humour?)  And did I mention? .. there is an undercurrent of the paranormal in the mix.

When I stopped writing at just before midnight on November 30, 2010, my characters (the list had grown by three more essential ones) had complicated the plot considerably. It had become exciting to write this story. In fact, whenever one particular character appeared in a scene I would get chills right down my spine every time!  What’s with that? And the personalities were developing so that I had quite an assortment interacting with one another. It was amazing to me!

When I stopped writing … I set them all aside. I had three different conflicts to resolve. I had a vague idea of where the story was going, but no clear direction of how to get there.

I left the story untouched, read it through months later and was amazed – not because I thought it was genius (which I didn’t), but because it came out of my imagination. With a pen and a large binder full of paper this whole adventure appeared. That is amazing to me.

I put it away.

Then entered NaNoWriMo 2011. Another large binder full of paper, the desire to finish what I had started last year, but …

I found it was so difficult to pick up and keep going with this story. I chose to do that, though, because I really want to see how this story will turn out before I start creating a new one. Only this time it is not flowing the way it did last year. This time it is a struggle. But .. more has come to light, my main character has a summer job now, the intensity is growing, the twists and turns add depth and drama. I seem to be going deeper into conflict, which means it will be more challenging to find my way out .. to help my characters find satisfactory resolutions.

But, you know .. I love it! Is this what it means to be a writer?

Learning as I go, I know that I have to work out my time line so that things connect and not remain disjointed. Therein lies the biggest challenge for me, equal to sorting out the small details to make it all work. Hopefully, that will all come together in the editing.

I know this novel may never go anywhere, but I can dream, can’t I? Maybe it will be of interest to someone. Maybe it has to wait its time before being picked up. But .. I digress ..

I have a story to complete in four days! I have mysteries to solve, people’s lives to sort out, justice to be served.  Yes, and a treasure to find. Even I don’t yet know for sure where it is. I have to write!

This is a fitting place to end this post, but I want to add that I am also participating in PiBoIdMo this year, as I did last year. I have been trying to come up with an idea a day for picture books. That is another challenge, and a fun one. I haven’t found one every day, but almost, and on some days I came up with more than one. By the end of this month my total should be 30 ideas, one for each of the 30 days of November. Right now I stand at 37 ideas .. so really, I have already won! 🙂 I am learning even more this year about writing for children, and I love it. Thanks to Tara Lazar, a creative spirit and author of children’s books. ( )

I have much do to, but .. first I must write!

Any comments?  If you are a writer, what do you most love about the process?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂


10 responses to “How does a NaNoWriMo novel come to be? (and PiBoIdMo update)

  1. I love doing outlines and planning the story. It’s just the idea that I am creating something, a new universe or a parallel world. This is year is my first year for NaNo, and I am, unfortunately, not going to make it to 50k. I am at 16k right now. There is still hope, but we shall see!



    • Hi Jenn, welcome to my blog!

      I love the idea of creating new worlds. 🙂

      I am of the opinion that to even try NaNo is a success. A real ‘win’ is the 50K, but so many don’t make that mark – but they do write. That is a success then, because it is all about writing and gaining the experience.
      You are ahead of me in your total words written, so you could do it yet! A couple of all-nighters should get you there. 😉 That was how I did it last year, stayed up writing until early morning, got a few hours’ sleep, and then wrote to a little over 50K before the deadline.

      I wish you many more words and worlds. Thanks for your comment. 🙂


  2. “I have to write!” Those are your words, Lynn. Are you ready to call yourself a writer and truly believe?


    • Oh Laura, you caught me! Am I ready to call myself a writer and truly believe? … that sounds like a serious commitment. It reminds me of Peter Pan, so my question back to you is, Why? Will Tinkerbell die if I don’t believe? 😉

      I don’t think I can call myself a writer yet, but I am definitely getting closer to believing. I’m sure you won’t let me off easily. 🙂
      Thanks, Laura.


  3. Lynn,
    I love that you don’t give up. The process is the important part, what else really matters in the world but how we make meaning around things? I write for me to get my exciting, jumping out of my skin ideas down on paper and then whatever is supposed to happens, happens after that.


    • Hi Jodi, welcome to my blog!

      I am enjoying the process.
      You have a good way of looking at it, I need to let more of the creative excitement out.There’s no telling just what all is waiting for the chance to ‘be’.

      I remember your name from She Writes and follow you on Twitter. Thanks for your comment.


  4. I love the finishing part! Just keep pushing yourself through. If these characters seem real to you — histories, likes, fears — then don’t give up. Give them a chance to tell their story and then chop and add to it on the second draft.

    I’ve got a few posts that I’m hoping will help. I wish you good luck! 🙂

    My top ten tips for fiction writers:
    Perfect your writing voice — Kathryn Stockett and other helpful hints:
    Ideas on beating writer’s block
    Art of Writing 2: Nail your novel’s first sentence:

    … and many more. And my FAVOURITE part of the process? Knowing that my thick-headedness has been finally put to good use!


    • Hello Novel Girl, welcome to my blog!

      You love the finishing part? I hope I will. Right now I am finding that working out the details is a bit much, and tying up the loose ends will be interesting to see how they all come together. I’m starting now to set it up so that I am moving into the home stretch.

      Thank you for the helpful posts. I will check them out as soon as I can. Once I get this NaNo novel finished enough to say I did it, then I will have the daunting task of going back over it to do the fixes. I have names mixed up, and the time line disconnected, and some other things that don’t work, but the main idea is there. There will be much editing and rewriting to do .. again and again.

      Thank you for your comment. 🙂


      • Your story rings so many bells! OMG, I am laughing at the similarities here. The fact that you have these disjointed pieces is a signal that you have a FANTASTIC messy first draft. As it should be.

        Give yourself a well-deserved break and forget about the first draft for at least a month. Read as many fiction-writing books as you can (best ones on my blog if you need help choosing because there are so many to pick from). Read a variety of genres, and good and bad writing.

        You’ll be so surprised when you look at your NaNoWriMo novel again how much more clarity you have — you’ll have a better idea of what should be fixed.


        • I wrote the first half of it in NaNo 2010, and going back months later to read it was .. rather surprising in places. Some good, some not so good. Even so, I determined to finish it and then fix it all later when I can get time to work on it. It’s a messy first draft, alright! Not sure about the fantastic. 🙂

          I will not be digging in too quickly, have to let it set awhile .. to marinate or germinate .. not sure which. 😉 Reading will be the main thing, I expect. I miss reading during NaNo month.

          Thanks for the tips. 🙂


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