Home » Dare I Do NaNoWriMo?

Dare I Do NaNoWriMo?


crest-bda7b7a6e1b57bb9fb8ce9772b8faafbRight off the top, National Novel Writing Month sounds like a really bad idea for a person as commitment phobic as me.

For readers who aren’t familiar, NaNoWriMo is “National Novel Writing Month, shortened as NaNoWriMo (na-noh-ry-moh), … “an annual internet-based creative writing project that takes place every November. NaNoWriMo challenges participants to write 50,000 words of a new novel between November 1 and 30.” For more information read the rest of the Wikipedia definition here, or go to the NaNoWriMo site.

But since my writing’s been totally off the rails for quite awhile now, what with dealing with getting my house ready for the market, suffering from unexpected chronic pain and disability, dealing with the consequenses of menopause-induced brain fog (more on that in a later post,) shooting off exploring screenwriting, film-making and other, largely unrelated employment opportunities over the last couple of years, I’m thinking this might, in a counterintuitive sort of way, be A GOOD THING, as Martha says.

writing, handwriting






A bit of focus, you know?


Well before anyone starts shouting, ‘Hell Yeah, go for it!!’ I’ll just say I’ve already registered. I’ve never had trouble cranking out words before, but then again I’ve never committed to writing 50,000 new words in a month. But since my buddies at the RWA-GVC are doing it en masse, I figure I’ll jump on the coffee-trolley and see what happens. The worst case scenario is that I write no more than I’ve been writing lately, which is a big fat ZERO. Absolutely nothing to lose, right? My situation can’t get any worse, and the beauty of NaNoWriMo is, there really aren’t any consequences. (Except shame.)


The problem now is, I’m definitely NOT a “pantser” as we say in the biz. In other words I’m not one of those writers who can just sit down at the computer and start banging out words without any concern for what the novel is about or where it’s going. (The very thought of it makes me catatonic!). Which means that I have to decide WHAT I’m going to spend the month of November writing and do a little preparation. And since everything I’m working on (in a figurative, if not a literal sense) is either in revision, nearly complete, or a screenplay, I’m not sure what to choose.


Option A: To take my rough, incomplete outline for an interactive STEAMPUNK novel about a time-travelling jeweller and write through just one storyline. (Basically the interactive novel requires three “forks” in the story, something like gaming narrative, or “Choose Your Own Adventure” stories, where the reader makes a decision for the protagonist about where the story goes next, requiring a total of 12 different endings for the same storym, making it rather complicated.) But since I’m somewhat stuck on that, it makes me nervous. On the other hand…


Option B: To take the seed of an idea for one of my future novels and just go for it. Some of these are a bit better thought through than others. Whichever one I choose would fit into a potential “series” with one of my already completed novels. The possibilities include:

downtown eastside lane, b&w imagea) a story about an ambitious and uptight lawyer trying to rise above her family’s shame and a passionately dedicated social worker dealing with kids on the street, and greedy developers and corrupt city officials interfering with approvals for construction of a youth shelter, who teaches her to take risks, let down her hair and believe in causes again.

red car, crashedb) a story about a vain, hardened lawyer with a secret past whose glamourous life is shattered along with her face and her pelvis in a serious car accident, and who must rebuild herself inside and out while working through physiotherapy, with the help of a selfless contractor whose estranged wife’s street life as an addict doesn’t make his job as a father any easier.

Italian villa on a lakec) a story about an Art History doctoral student doing thesis research in Florence who meets an Italian architect and gets drawn into his shabby-chic aristocratic family’s troubles, deciding to help them keep their run-down ancestral villa out of the clutches of a crazy-rich egomaniacal American rock star who wants to renovate it beyond recognition and destroy centuries of cultural history in the process.

Okay so that’s it. Tough choice, eh?

If you read this and want to vote, leave a comment and tell me which story you think I should write for NaNoWriMo and give me a couple of reasons why (or not). Depending on public opinion, it might make it easier for me to choose. And wish me luck. Thanks!

16 Responses to “Dare I Do NaNoWriMo?”

  1. Celia Lewis says:

    You’re thinking way too much. Planning way too much. Worrying about the future way too much.

    Why not decide to have so much fun doing something totally outside what you have already got in your folders or brain, and just write for a month on an idea…? What the heck. What have you got to lose?

    Imagine diving into fun-writing every day. Ahhh – what will happen today? Oh goodie!! Right? Hmmm? What do you think?

    • M A Clarke Scott says:

      Oh Celia. Trust you to challenge me. I’ll have to think on that. I’m not sure anything would happen at all!

    • M A Clarke Scott says:

      OK Celia. I’ve slept on it. I’ve decided that brainstorming and planning a new novel is pretty much the most fun part for me…so why would I skip it? It’s not worrying. It’s just the way I am. I don’t think the other way would work for me, but within the framework of my plan, there is a lot of freedom to have fun and “see what happens.”

  2. yer sister says:

    I just finished a novel (reading, that is) where pretty much nothing happens through the whole book. Old guy, insecure. Young girl, confused, keeps leaving and coming back. Guy wanders around town feeling sorry for himself. Situations with various people. Drinks a lot of beer. Girl comes back. They hold hands. After that, you’re not sure what happens. I think they are making a movie out of it, though.

    Given the above options, I would vote for B: c).

  3. Celia Lewis says:

    Bb needs trauma therapy as well, by the way. Not just plastic surgery and orthopedic surgery & physio…
    Ba Hmmm – the youth shelter one – those kids, some of them have likely had to work as sex trade workers, right?
    Bc – somehow has more fascinating characters and settings to play with if you want to play for a month… ?
    There you are – my additional two-bits’ worth. I’m full of opinions!! :)

    • M A Clarke Scott says:

      You’re right about both b and a.They’re pretty grim. Bc would be more fun and less work. That’s 2 votes. I always value your opinion!:) Thanks.

  4. Natasha Pow says:

    Let me throw a monkey wrench in: I vote for A. Reason? There’s a concrete market. They WANT your work, so just do it, baby. Plus, a month isn’t a very long time to throw at this unusual plot structure. If you’re as good at “cranking” out the words as you say you are, then a concentrated time frame is what you need to keep the Medusa story lines sorted. If it turns out that after this month you can’t get your head around twelve plot lines then kick the idea out the door and start something else.

    BTW, you’re wasting time thinking through all this. Flip a coin, use a Ouija board, or print them out and stick a pin in a piece of paper but just pick something and start plotting.

    I’m so humble, aren’t I?

    • M A Clarke Scott says:

      I’m speechless.
      But thanks for your vote! Really. LOL

    • M A Clarke Scott says:

      I’m still thinking about this, but I guess I’m remembering how hard it was when I tried to plot it out before. Also, I may not be quite familiar enough with the Victoriana to write it without stalling. I get the feeling that when doing NaNoWriMo one doesn’t have much time to stop and think. It just kind of has to pour out of you. I like the Ouija board idea. Might try that. Makes me think I could throw some magic ju-ju into this Steampunk novel. Reduces the need for research.

      Anyway N, are you registered? And if not, why not?

  5. yer sister says:

    Bc has the best picture.

    • M A Clarke Scott says:

      I like it too. I was looking for a different kind of Italian villa. Something more Tuscan vineyard feeling. But I found this one on, what I think is a lake, and love it. I think it has possibilities.

  6. yer son says:

    B: c Cause its like, good. and whatever. jk I’ve always liked A but compared to Bc which sounds like it would be really fun to read (IF IT WAS WELL WRITTEN, no pressure) and I think an event like this is a good opportunity to check out new writing possibility and stories.

    • M A Clarke Scott says:

      Why thank you son. The votes are stacking up. And I know how discerning you are so your opinion is priceless. Although now I’m awfully nervous about writing well.

  7. Donna Barker says:

    You know… the point of NaNoWri Mo is to write 50,000 words in a month. 50,000 words isn’t a novel, usually. Just a piece of it. So…why not totally rebel and follow along Celia’s original suggestion to to just write your 1,666 words a day and have fun. Start with the idea that you wake up thinking about Nov 1. If on Nov 5 you’re stuck, jump into Italy for a day or two (or Steampunk world or wherever.).

    The point is to spend 30 days having made a commitment to write every day and reach a reasonable but challenging goal.

    Stop over-thinking! Just write!

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