why I’m doing National Novel Writing Month

In the next month, I’m about to undergo something truly preposterous.

I’m going to write a novel in thirty days.

Maybe it will be good. Maybe it will be awful. Probably it will be somewhere in the great in-between. But I am hereby going public: I am going to write 50,000 words of fiction between this Friday and Thanksgiving weekend.

screenshotYou may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. National Novel Writing Month starts November 1st, and this year 180,000 people (and counting) have signed up to participate. Why? Because lack of a deadline is the only thing standing between any of us and that “someday” goal we set for ourselves. I’ve had a novel outline, and Chapter One, written for longer than I’d care to admit. I kept saying I’d start tomorrow, next week. I even swore here that I’d start anew- eleven months ago. But without a deadline, it hasn’t happened.

My first book came with a “real” deadline. That is to say, a deadline with money attached and signatures in triplicate. And that terror was an effective motivator. I wrote every day, even if I had to get up at 5:30 am to do it. So I’ve done this before, I keep telling myself. Even though that feels like a lifetime ago, I can do it again.

But it’s still scary. It’s still hard, for anyone, but for mothers I think it’s even harder. We are supposed to caretake, to enable, to selflessly provide. We are not supposed to say “I think I’d like to do a marathon. I’m off for a three-hour training run. Bye!”

We are not supposed to say, “I’m going to write a novel in a month and I might be impossible to live with for that whole time, and certainly our house will be a train wreck, and dinner will be peanut butter sandwiches, and it will all be in the service of something which feels very important to me but which in my darker moments I will fear is entirely self-indulgent and without merit.”

And so I haven’t said any of that. Neither has my spouse, even though he knows me well enough to know that all of that is probably true. He also knows that I am happy when I create, and out of sorts when I do not. I think he’d say  that he would rather have things belly-up in our house for a month in order to reap the happiness rewards, for the whole family, of a creatively-fulfilled me thirty days from now. I hope so, because ready or not, we are about to begin that experiment.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is not to write the best thing anyone has ever written. The goal is merely to finish. Wish me luck. Or… join me?

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Stephanie Precourt October 30, 2013 at 10:46 pm

Can I read yours? And I am so tempted to do one of my own. I just might!


Amy Wilson October 31, 2013 at 7:44 pm

YES Stephanie you should. I am very excited about tomorrow (now week 2 we shall see…)


mommyonthespot October 31, 2013 at 12:56 am

That paragraph about peanut butter sandwiches and the fear of being self-indulgent – that is me right now, too! But I also have spent enough money on therapy to know that it is important for your kids see you achieve personal goals.

Go for it!


Amy Wilson October 31, 2013 at 7:43 pm

They don’t like it when we’re not around… but they are proud of us when we do something useful with all of that time. Right? at least I think so


alexandra October 31, 2013 at 2:29 am

I need to join you, AMY. SOMeone KICK MY BUTT!


Amy Wilson October 31, 2013 at 7:45 pm

consider it kicked! write 50,000 words of something. and your writing has got to improve right? Butt in chair, hands to keys (or gripping pen), go.


Kathy at kissing the frog October 31, 2013 at 6:27 am

I’m signed up, too! I have been saying I am going to write my son’s story for three years now, and I haven’t. This is just the kick start I need. Good luck to you Amy! I loved your first book!


Amy Wilson October 31, 2013 at 7:45 pm

Kathy I’m excited to be doing this with you! Are you writing a fictionalized version, or is this your/his memoir? Either way, i know that there are people out there who need to read what you have to write.


Shari November 2, 2013 at 3:17 am

You go, my friend. See you on the other side 🙂


Kizz November 5, 2013 at 4:32 pm

On Sunday I yelled Run, [insert name], run! at thousands of runners so today I say to you, “Write, Amy, write!”


Ann Imig November 13, 2013 at 4:27 pm

You continue to inspire me. I unofficially did nanowrimo in 2010. And I think I wrote about 36K words–and being that far into it was enough to fall for my characters and want to finish. I’d do it again. Forced creativity is the only method that works for me. Word count was my only goal back then. Revising that manuscript into something that I’m proud of and that will sell is a whole different beast and one I still need to tackle.


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