Five Crazy Things that Happened During NaNoWriMo

or, Magic happens when you are forced to write a novel quickly, flaws and all.


I participated in my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year and at 10:53 a.m. Mountain Time Sunday, I finished with 55,178 words. I was a little dazed, a lot euphoric, and, suddenly, really, really hungry. I am pretty happy with how it turned out. I have something to look forward to in the new year when I pull out this raw draft and start reworking it. I also experienced some crazy things during this writing process.

Characters stood up for their rights, even though I had no idea who they were yet.

No backstories, no bios, sometimes not even real names — just ridiculous placeholders like “Blondie”—and yet, when my fingers were flying across the keyboard, their personalities revealed themselves in surprising ways. When my villain was supposed to be frightening, he was dark and tragic. When the male lead was supposed to be understanding, he was jealous. When the protagonist was supposed to be conflicted, she was decisive and kick-ass. Which leads to

Scenes didn’t play out how I’d planned them.

Oh, they’d start out exactly how I envisioned. But then the characters took over and the scene would end up someplace completely different and I’d be left wondering what the hell just happened here? On the other hand, when I got bored, and did not know what to do with this miserable scene I had put everyone in, I just made everybody start acting like total jerks. Then things got interesting real quick.

Stream of consciousness = the mf’ing bomb.

I got crazy word count just letting my protagonist ramble on. It was a great way to learn her voice and figure out how her mind works. Plus, it was fun as hell. Too many times I would laugh my head off thinking, “I can’t believe she just said that.” (She said it. She did. Not me.)

I found out that I can just make stuff up as I go along.

Usually, a scene has played out in my head in Technicolor, multiple times, before I write it. I did not have that luxury with NaNoWriMo. I had an hour before work and the minutes were ticking away and I had to get my protagonist through her next test pronto. Bing! Just throw her in a room with this guy she barely knows and have her start talking trash. Next thing I knew, I had 900 words and my next conflict set up. When forced to, when I had no other choice, I just made up random shit. And some of it is probably usable.

I did not know how the story was going to end until ten minutes before I wrote it, when the final line came soaring into my head, while I was in my pajamas, standing over the floor furnace, sipping hot cocoa spiked with Vodka.

I am not making this up.


NaNoWriMo gear: chair pad, laptop, headphones, cookies from Trader Joe’s, hand warmers, and a notebook gift, handmade by the Saturday mornings write-in host.

7 thoughts on “Five Crazy Things that Happened During NaNoWriMo

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