NaNoWriMo: The Birth of an Idea

I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo four times, but only won (finished) two times. For those of you who don’t spend one month out of the year hashing out a novel, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It’s an annual event that takes place in November, when thousands of people try to write 50,000 words. It’s a difficult task. In my experience, it’s usually a 50,000+ word stupidfest, with maybe one or two good ideas. However, finishing is one of the best experiences of my life, up there with finishing my first 12K or getting accepted to university. Also, it doesn’t have to be a fruitless endeavor.


It’s been two years since I finished my last NaNoWriMo and I’m still working on that novel. It’s changed quite a bit, with only the main characters and the setting staying the same. It also has a name: Footfall. I’m proud of it and where it is taking me. It seems so strange that something that started off so awful could grow and become—what? better? I don’t want to get ahead of myself and say it’s actually a good book. But I’ve seen where it started, so it’s hard for me to not be happy with where it is now.

Here’s how it started: It’s 2012. I am sitting in front of a laptop, a pile of Kit Kat and Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup wrappers on my left, four empty coffee mugs on my right, and one bored fiancée playing The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword on the other side of the room. My hair is greasy from running chocolaty fingers through it as I stress over the questionable progression of my main characters’ story arcs.

A panic grips my chest. I realize that I have no idea how this fantasy culture would structure syntax. Why didn’t I research this ahead of time? What was I thinking spending October researching plant species, when obviously this world I’ve spent carefully constructing is falling to pieces all because I’m not sure how my universal translator works!

So, yeah, that’s where it all began. Now things are a lot less rushed, and I’m taking the time to do things right.

So, have any of you guys participated in NaNoWriMo? What was your experience like? Are you planning on revisiting any of the good ideas that cropped up?


One response to “NaNoWriMo: The Birth of an Idea”

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