NaNoWriMo...Harder Than I Thought

Southeast Library

NaNoWriMo...Harder Than I Thought

Library Associate Christine recounts her writing journey of 30 days

I first heard nanowrimo shieldof NaNoWriMo after I started working here at the library.  I saw the flyers and I was intrigued.  What’s that you say?  Write your own novel in the month of November and get lots of free DC Public Library swag and your book printed?  Sign me up.

In the beginning, I excitedly told my friends what I had just committed to. I sought out inspiration from the 25-year-old author of The Tiger’s Wife, Tea Obreht. She said that "it's inevitable that the novel is going to be somewhat autobiographical," which is exactly the situation I was encountering. 

I had a few successful days.  One involved meeting a friend at a “third space” (a Petworth coffeeshop) to crank out a few pages as we sipped on chai and fed off one another’s encouraging energy. Another was a very helpful writing workshop here at Southeast Library with local writer and poet, Garrett Phelan. I was able to read him an example of my writing and he offered some useful suggestions and advice.

These included:
  • Write in pieces.  You don’t have to start from the beginning – try writing a scene a day.  Keep what you like, throw out what you don’t, rearrange them as you see fit.
  • Try ending your writing session with writing an unfinished sentence to pick up from in the next session.
  • You don’t have to fit all ideas for a book in one novel – take one or two of the ideas or themes and really focus on those.
  • Use prompts – ie. Bring back a minor character and throw him in the scene and see where it goes. Have an unexpected event suddenly occur and see how the characters deal with it.
What I didn’t realize is that 50,000 words in one month…is really, really hard to write.  It’s certainly not impossible, but it required more dedication than I was prepared for.  I had a general idea in my head – it involved a 20s-something girl on some journey who struggled with identity issues. That was it. Setting up a plot, dialogue and other characters around this, was much harder than I realized. A good friend, who also participated in the project this year, said she had done it a handful of times in the past and only once did she surpass the 50K word count. 

So, until my next valiant attempt to write a novel, I’m going to stick to my usual creative outlet: Baking.

To be more specific, an Apple Upside Down Cake from The Cooks Illustrated Cookbook: 2,000 Recipes from 20 Years of America's Most Trusted Cooking Magazine.