Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Suffering Nano Jitters? This Might Help

If you're staring at the calendar and chewing your fingernails to stubs, you aren't alone. But no one paints a better picture of the nanowrimo experience than my very talented writer friend who we'll just call "NH". She's done me the honor of providing a guest post to mark the occasion. This is her first foray into blogging, so please join me in telling her *Huzzah!*

A Nanowrimo Tale: ‘Tis Nearly Christmas
As I contemplate pushing the boat out into Lake Nanowrimo, I ponder... What have I learnt after my last attempt?

Initially I am filled with virginal-like expectation, nervous jitters. What will be brought forth?

I love this about Nano - picking which one, joyful inspiration will conquer all, whilst gleefully burying that little cautionary writer voice. She’s all dressed up like some prim Austen/Helen Keller type, sagely advising me in a shrill tone, “Does this have enough backbone?” (I have a drawer full of invertebrate type stories, all limply reminiscing about their flash in the pan moment.)

I brood as if I were a Victorian medium, a seance type extraction, speaking to characters long dead, channeled straight into my head. “Come into the light dear friends...speak” Hmmm....who should I choose.

And what, in fact, did I learn last time?
Perhaps you know? Perhaps you have already discovered the little X-marks-the-spot of writers’ treasure? Kudos to you.
It took me a while (approximately 63,000 words and a week into Dec 2010) to discover...wait for it....
OUTLINE. (Cough).

Don’t underestimate the outline - especially when you don't have one. It’s like having all the tinsel shine and no line to thread it. (Just so you smug word profilers out there can comprehend what it’s like for us pansters).

I got burned last Nano. Bad.

And what did I learn?

The slouchy Grandma inside me perks up like a drunken meerkat, scanning for the elusive cup of wisdom. She sits up, brushing words off her ample chest like cookie crumbs, asking “What did you say, Dear?”

She’s heard the Ghost of Nano Past. (Cue jangle of clunky chains). He comes to whisper in my ear, “Outline…Outline. Cough. Cough”

“Oh ____”


You see, for me, Nano went really well – for the first two thirds of my book. Then, rather quickly - after the 50,000 assured certificate point - I got cut off at the knees by The Ghost of Nano Present. (She’s prim and stuffy, pencil stuck behind the ear and wielding her letter opener like Excalibur).

“Thats not a very satisfactory ending for the reader,” she smirks, tutting and scribbling “No outline. Fail...Fail.

My fingers poised at the keyboard, I slump in shame. She’s right. I got completely lost on the way. 

I look around for the Ghost of Nano Future. She’ll be blindingly glorious, I expect - all futurist, minimalistic, in a savvy, Margaret Atwood manner. Surely the mere crumbs of her wordsmith editing would gather up into a Booker Prize!

She will wave her thesaurus  and bibbitey-bobbity-boo,  Nano 2011 will be my coup de gras.

So, I’ll just get comfy on my couch while I await her......


  1. It's true, it's true, it's true! :) And welcome, NH! :) I love your way with words...and your take on NaNo. Would love to see you stopping by Aimee's blog again! :)

  2. Ah, outline. The week between projects, I free-wrote the first five acts, and then compressed the first act into an outline. I don't have a full formal one, but at least I know where I'm going.

  3. I admire anyone who gives nano a try. I'm more of a marathon runner than a sprinter, myself - meaning the idea of nano terrifies me. I had a good excuse not to do it this year -finishing the edits on my current WiP - but maybe I'll confront those fears next year. We'll see... :-)

  4. Cally - I was in the same spot my fist year with my first WIP. Then the following year I did Nano for the sequel and caught the fever. This year I ended up pushing through to finish a draft on one book so I could start another for Nano. #nanogeek

  5. Oh crap!I'm screwed then. lol. I have never been much of an outliner. I like to see where is goes, but sometimes I do get really hung up. So,instead I outline a little at a time,trying to always stay aboiut 4 chapters ahead of what I am writing. Still, pretty much everything gets changed in one way or another. I'm just writing every day. Slow and steady, and I'll see where it gets me.