Gearing up for NaNo and tying up loose ends

In October 2009, I decided that I would spend the month of November writing a novel. Well, technically, a novella, but hey 50,000 is daunting whatever you call it.

November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), so dubbed by a group of 21 people in 1999 who decided that writing a novel in a month would be a good way to impress people.* NaNo has grown a lot since then, with well over 200,000 people participating in 2010.

I decided that I was going to do this on my own. Honey is a writer, but didn’t seem to be overly interested in participating, so while I stayed up late on Halloween night in order to start writing at the stroke of midnight, she went to sleep. The next day, I went to my first write-in** alone. I didn’t expect to meet anyone or make friends. This was about FINALLY getting my novel completed so that I could move on with my life.

I had so much fun that Honey signed up and started writing within a couple of days of the start. The people we ended up writing with every Wednesday night became our best friends.

This year, I’m taking up the reins of co-ML*** for the Charleston region. We’re already planning writing workshops and presentations, write-ins and parties. While writing is certainly usually a solitary practice, it doesn’t have to be during NaNo. It can be a very social, competitive process, and we’re ready for it.

I’ve been thinking about the EVENT that is NaNo, but I haven’t given much thought to what I’m actually going to write yet. I’m STILL completing the novel I was working on in 2009. Last year, I managed to slog my way to just over 50K with another novel, but I hated the whole process. Even though I LOVED the subject matter and the concept for the 2010 novel, I wasn’t done with the first one. It was eating my brain.

So I’m going to try to complete the 2009 novel before NaNo begins. In 63 days. Now, that’s twice what I get during NaNo, and I figure I only have to write another 30,000 words. For some reason, though, this is tying me up in knots. I think it’s because I’ve carried this story around with me for years (YEARS, people), and I am not quite ready to let it go.

But go it must. The 2010 novel started a series that I want to write, that I’m passionate about writing. The series is set in 18th century America/Europe, and the 2009 novel is modern day Charleston. They don’t mix well.

So wish me luck. I’m embarking on a quest to write a measly 476 words a day, which should be a good warm-up for the 1667 a day minimum to complete this year’s NaNo.

Let the writing begin!

*Impress people = Convince people to date/sleep with them. Hey, they were young and horny.

**Write-in = A mostly informal gathering of Wrimos.**** We drink a lot of coffee, eat a lot of bagels, and compete with each other to see who can write the most words during sprints that we like to call Word Wars. Games and prizes are involved. It’s a good time.

***ML=Municipal Liaison. MLs are responsible for coordinating the NaNo events in a region, and generally offering pep talks and support for other Wrimos in their area. Charleston’s region has really grown – from approximately a dozen active participants in 2008 to over 300 in 2010.

****Wrimo = A NaNo participant. There’s a LOT of lingo to learn, but it’s not hard. Really.


About Sarah Familar-Ragsdale

Sarah Familar-Ragsdale is a writer and poet, a shameless multi-tasker, and a lover of good wine, lyrical prose, foot rubs, adrenaline rushes, and sweet tea. She can't remember a time when she didn't want to be a writer, and some of her favorite childhood memories involve an old IBM typewriter and stacks of onionskin paper. Her professional life has followed a meandering path - she has been a licensed Charleston tour guide, a metaphysical bookstore owner, and a minister to an eclectic spiritual community. These days, when she isn't trying to wrap up her on-going novel projects or making attempts to seduce the muses of poetry, she follows her other great soul calling as a certified Life Coach and spiritual mentor. Sarah lives at the edge of an under-tended garden in Charleston, SC with the love of her life and their two fur-children, Chaucer and Stella Maris. To find out more about Sarah's Life Coaching services, visit
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One Response to Gearing up for NaNo and tying up loose ends

  1. Laura says:

    Maybe this is the year I’ll finally write that genre-crossing urban fantasy/forensic crime novel I’ve been dreaming up for years… 🙂 I’m glad I found time to read up on your blog!

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