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April 08, 2024

NaNoWriMo 2006: Blame It On NaNo

By Jerry Seeger

It was October of 2001 when Triska mentioned to me that her friend Travis had told her about a friend of his in Los Angeles who was writing a novel in a month. Thus it was an unlikely chain of acquaintances and chance comments that brought me to National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo. It sounded like fun, writing a 50,000-word work of fiction in thirty days. I had started large writing projects before, but had never finished. Here then, was just what I needed: an arbitrary but firm goal.

I thought a little about what I was going to write, but when I packed up my laptop and headed down to the local bar for my first writing session, I really had no idea how the story would go. When it came right down to it, all I had was the voice of the main character. I began to type, reminding myself that this was just a draft and didn't have to perfect, or even good. That target I hit squarely. I have never read the story I wrote that year, though I think there were some good bits in there along with all the ... other bits.

It was a month of highs and lows, muttered curses and minor celebrations. The same words which one day I thought were the worst things ever written would appear to be pretty good the next, only to make me cringe if I stumbled across them again later. Like any roller coaster, it was exhilarating.

I reached 50,000 words with an hour to spare in the month, the last paragraph wrapping up about one-third of the plot. On December 1st I rested, but it was not a satisfying rest. On December 2nd I was on the road, but I was starting to get nervous. On the 3rd I started writing another novel, and I have written almost every day since.

It was only a matter of time before the writing habit grew into a full-fledged addiction, and I did what any self-respecting addict would do -- I quit my job and sold my house to feed the monkey on my back. I took a road trip for a few months, seeking out the places between places, writing in bars and cafes and sleeping on sofas from coast to coast.

When writing, I noticed that as a project grew I would break my momentum often to go find things I'd written previously. I'd end up editing that part instead of forging ahead with the current inspiration. By the time I got back to where I was I had no idea what I was going to write. The more I wrote, the more thoughts I had on how my software could make my life easier. I developed a wish list for how I thought a word processor for a writer should work, and when I couldn't find one that did those things, I wrote it myself.

Now I live in Prague, where I write as a full-time job, and I continue to develop Jer's Novel Writer on the side.

All of this is because of NaNoWriMo. They should put a warning label on that thing.

-- Jerry Seeger

Curious about novel writing? Have a look at National Novel Writing Month!

Piker contributors who signed up to take the NaNoWriMo challenge during November include Lydia Manx, Jon Renaut, Autumn Morris, Cheryl Haimann, Josh Brown, Mark Swarthout, Sand Pilarski, Jerry Seeger, Chris Miller, Anna Parrish, Mary Klaebel, Schizophrenic Chick, Cherry Kelly, Kathy Keller, Dan Mulhollen, Holly Jahangiri, Wendy Robards, and Mel Trent.

Article © Jerry Seeger. All rights reserved.
Published on 2006-11-27
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