• Zetta Brown
  • [Reality Check] “Not-Nearly-Ready-WriMo” – or, NaNoWriMo for Procrastinators
This blog was featured on 07/06/2016
[Reality Check] “Not-Nearly-Ready-WriMo” – or, NaNoWriMo for Procrastinators
Written by
Zetta Brown
November 2014
Written by
Zetta Brown
November 2014

It’s that time again.

Time to crack open those writing how-to books.

Time to locate all those scraps of paper or random files off your C-drive containing random snip-its of plot ideas, storylines, dialogue, working titles, and character traits.

Time when writers gather writing tools, whether digital or physical, and write the next Great American Novel.

It is the time when writers either put up, or shut up.

It's NaNoWriMo Time!

Where the hell did 2014 go!

I admit I was smug last year after winning NaNoWriMo for the first time. You can check out my 2013 posts, “NaNoWriMo – The Great Butt Kicker”, and “What NaNoWriMo Taught Me

But now, as I stare at my profile showing ZERO words uploaded, I wonder if I jinxed myself by being too smug.

Nah. My lack of preparedness is the result of...being unprepared. This is despite having written NANOWRIMO in blood-red letters on my calendar when I purchased it in January. I looked up, and November 1 was staring me in the face, and now I see it waving to me in my rearview mirror.

I’m sure I’m like many other writers who have story ideas jotted down in various places—ideas to stimulate the creative process when the mood (or muse) beckons—but not even this helps me right now. Although I declared an idea to put on my profile—after running down a list of options and getting the husband to pick the one that sounded most interesting—I’m probably going to go in a totally different direction and write something else. But my husband’s input was not in vain. He came up with the title for this post.

Plus, it doesn’t help that I have work to do and less time to NaNo this year than last year.


Anyone else out there in NaNoWriMo Limbo? Tell me what is—or isn’t—working for you. I still recommend the book written by NaNoWriMo founder, Chris Baty: No Plot? No Problem!: A Low-Stress, High-Velocity Guide to Writing a Novel in 30 Days. I need to read my copy again. Perhaps I'll consider getting the new edition of the book that came out this year.

Enough whining. This doesn’t count towards my daily word count, and I’m not going to wuss out and set my sights on NOT winning NaNo this year. Other people with busier lives than me have won, so I can too.

See you across the finish line!


Got a [REALITY CHECK] about the publishing life to share? If you would like to be a guest on my blog, please friend me on She Writes with a message! :)

©2014. Zetta Brown is an editor and the author of several published short stories and the erotic romance novel Messalina: Devourer of Men. She also provides editing services through JimandZetta.com. If you like this post, then stop by her editing blog Zetta’s Desk.

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  • Karen A. Wyle

    As I recall, the rest of that suggestion included having the character fall down. I sent one of my main characters off a cliff.

  • Patricia Robertson

    The NaNo pep talk this week said, when stuck, do something simple, like have your character go for a walk. I was stuck on Tuesday then read that. Made sense. When I'm stuck, I like to go for a walk or bike ride. I had my character go for a walk in the woods and was back on track with my writing.

  • Zetta Brown

    Hi Fran!

    When NaNo-ing, I say go for the chaff. Like cream that rises to the top, you can pick out the wheat later.

    Talk about mixing metaphors. Hey! Cream of Wheat! :)

    In fact, I think I'll use that as my mantra/chat for the rest of the month: "Chaff! Chaff! Chaff!"

    I tend to overthink things and then end up making no progress...which bums me out for not making progress. I use NaNo as an excuse to just write it out because no one has to see it but me.

    BTW, I'll update my word count Friday or Saturday. I'm still "behind" but no matter. I'm just giving it a go. :)

  • fran bell baruch

    Zetta,  Thanks so much for putting your NaNoWriMo limbo out there!  I jumped in this year for the first time, after many years of chickening out.  I've been working on an MSS and am using NaNo to keep me motivated.  BUT, I keep vacillating between writing fast and loose (and ending up with much chaff and little wheat) OR writing slower and really concentrating on the goals of each scene and sequence.  I'm torturing myself, going one way and then the other.  Ack!  I know people say to just get the entire story down and then go back but I've done that before with a screenplay and there was so much unusable stuff that I was overwhelmed at having to go back and rewrite.  

    If you, or any fellow members have any advice or encouragement, I'd love to hear it!

    Thanks again, Zetta for opening this up.

  • Zetta Brown

    Whew! Thanks, ladies! I knew I wasn't the only one struggling, but it's nice to get confirmation that you're not alone. :)

    Liz - LOL I'll be updating my word count tonight. I love how you're writing what you need rather than what you should. Sometimes the best stories are the ones that materialize. In fact, I won an award for a short story that suddenly appeared in my head and took me a weekend to write.

    Karen A. Wyle - It IS hard to shake edit mode, especially when you do it for a living!

    Karen Szklany Gault - Jump in at any time. The water's fine. You see how far behind I am, and I was out of town all day yesterday. But I'm going for it anyway! NaNo is really just an exercise to write something, "perfection" be damned.

    Carson - Thanks for the pep talk. I can (and will) get silly with my writing, believe me. In fact, I'm not even going to worry about word count, because if I just go for it and don't allow myself to think or edit myself, 50k will show up soon enough.

    Jessica & Helen - Thanks for the blogs links. I'll check them out. :)

    Suzanne - Love that word count! LOL I like how you're assembling other aspects of the book as a way to ease into the manuscript draft. It helps because it keeps you thinking about your story.

    Patricia - It's odd how things happen and you realize that you're doing more than you were before...or it feels that way.

    My draft last year was full of all-cap ticklers like INSERT DIALOGUE HERE or SHOW MORE, etc. This let me keep going while reminding myself what I needed when I started writing/editing "for real."

    Last year, I updated my word count every night, but this time, I'm going to update every other day at best. I still got a lot of work to do, but I'm getting this DONE.

    Oh, and if you want to be my NaNo writing buddy, I'm "Bastet." :D

  • Suzanne Arthur

    It's great to hear you procrastinated! And you're going for it anyway. This is my first write-a-thon. I didn't officially register, but I'm participating anyway, because what the hell. I was well prepared to do it officially, just chicken, I guess. Spent September reading up on how best to use my writing time once November finally arrived. In October, I wrote massive back stories for my main characters, roughing out a plot and writing my jacket blurb. Then, the minute I started on 11/1, I completely threw that whole idea out the window and reverted to a different story I started earlier this year. It's fun to write rough and fast. 5,497 words so far.

  • Helen Gallagher

    I guess I was feeling your pain. Earlier today I posted a little inspiration break for NANOWRIMO-weary writers.

    Hope it helps you too... NANOWRIMO Inspiration from Sven Birkerts.

  • Patricia Robertson

    I was wondering today why I seem so much busier this year than last year when I first participated in Nano and won. At one point I thought little had changed. I still have a mom and step-dad to buy groceries for and help with doctor appointments and 4 stepgrandkids. I wasn't actively blogging back then, but then I'm putting my blogs on hold for the most part this month while I write. Big difference, last year I wasn't actively marketing my books, this year I am. I also have added a puppy to my household. Puppy and marketing make a big difference. I'm behind schedule but not too far and hoping to catch up next week. Also, if all else fails, I can remind myself that all I have to do is get the words on paper, they don't have to be good. :) 

    Liz, I love that you changed your mind at the last minute. Sometimes you just have to write what you are meant to write, not what you planned to write. Go for it Zetta. I know you can do it.

  • Karen A. Wyle

    There are plenty of "Nano rebels" who rewrite or continue previous work, or set smaller targets, or do collections of stories and poems. Diving in mid-stream is a perfectly good way to join that fraternity. :-)

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Just scrolled down to read some of the other comments and enjoyed them very much. May have fun with creating content each day if I can.

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Thank you for sharing your dilemma and your insights, Zetta.

    Every year I intend to sit down and polish one of my MSs-in-Progress, and each year November 1st finds me needing to keep up with my blog, writing to publish on HubPages in order to keep earning, preparing to sell my book and crafts at annual craft fairs, and cobbling together a patchwork of employment around home-schooling.

    What I wonder about is whether one can come in to NaNoWriMo mid-stream or does one need to work every day from November 1st to November 30th in order to win? But the real spirit of my participation in this quest is the sense of community.  I often think that if I am not on top of my game by November 1st, I'm so far behind that I may never "catch up."  But, it's time to get in front of the computer and hit those keys, right?

    Any thought from my SheWrites sisters?

  • Carson Gleberman

    Here's an idea from Dan Blank at the Write Practice: See how god-awfully badly you can write for a few hundred words, or 30 minutes. Set a timer, maybe. Get silly, make it kinda fun, try hard to push away the good ideas and wordcraft that will suddenly show up and want to play too (you can cut and paste them elsewhere or line through them so they won't really be lost). It's hard to do for a whole 30 minutes, and chances are before the timer goes off you will have a really interesting truly good idea to riff on for a bunch of pages. And just so we're clear, all the tried-to-be-bad stuff still counts in your NaNo count. I am not officially Nano-ing this year, but still using the month as a do-able time chunk to set new writerly habits with time and page goals. I salute you!

  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    LOL. I was wondering what happened to you! I've been checking my buddy list and thinking that the goose egg couldn't be right. Don't fret, I'm running behind too. Why? Because the book I should be writing is holding less appeal than the book I decided to write 2 days ago that didn't exist until then... Still working out at least the major plot thrust so that I can put some words on the page :-) Go, Zetta! Will check on your progress later this evening...

  • Karen A. Wyle

    Usually, I publish a novel in mid-October. That means that all the editing and proofreading is over almost three weeks before I dive into Nano. This year, I had too much to do in the rest of my life and decided to publish the book in early December instead. I was editing and proofing until a couple of days before November 1st. Naturally, I found it harder than usual to shake off the "edit" mode. I've had to remind myself several times that Nano is about rough, rough drafts, and that I could use any idea I managed to grab, whether or not I was confident it'd make it into the final product. I'm reminding myself that it's fun to write without immediate accountability, without getting everything Right. That's done the trick so far.