NaNoWriMo: A tougher choice than chocolate cake or cheesecake

It was probably this time last year that I firmly declared that no, under no circumstance was I going to participate in National Novel Writing Month.  “No time.”  I reported.

Last week I firmly declared that no, under no circumstance am I going to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year.  “No time.”  I reported.

Now…now I’m not so sure.

I don’t enjoy NaNoWriMo.  I don’t like the generalized onset of panic that there’s one month to write a novel and gosh darn it, I’m 348 words short today–now I’m going to have to make that up tomorrow–now I’m over 1,294 words behind and who freaking cares anyway–I’m just going to go eat a sandwich.  Screw it.

I’m a poor participant.  This stems from a childhood of non-participation: I was an only child, so there wasn’t this “competition” thing to deal with.  When I played Monopoly, I played with my stuffed animals.  And I won.  Usually.  I played church league slow pitch softball.  I prefered to sit at the computer and write, or play Sim City and listen to the Lion King soundtrack.  And when I say listen to the Lion King soundtrack, what I mean is I performed the Lion King soundtrack.  To this day, I can’t listen to the title song without thinking about laying road tiles in Sim City (and battling fires because, inevitably, I’d forget to place enough firehouses).

There are of course, positives to NaNo.  I think.  I thought about positives verses negatives while I washed my hair tonight.  Here’s my shoddy and unimpressive list:


  1. Less agonizing over perfect and instead agonizing over word count: I’m a first draft kind of gal.  I agonize over structure and flow and comma placement until I waste ridiculous amounts of writing time crafting a solitary sentence.  It’s true.  But in NaNo, that kind of thing doesn’t work.  Faster, faster, faster!  It’s like driving with The Hubs.
  2. You get a finished–or nearly finished–manuscript super fast: I lost NaNo last year.  I lose NaNo every year, but I started Anything You Ask of Me for NaNo.  I didn’t actually finish it until the end of January, but it’s going to be published.  So, though a loser, I eventually am a winner.  Winning!

Okay…so…those were the only two positives I came up with.  I know, you’re throwing around words like “Satisfaction” and “Accomplishment” but, look, I lose every year.  “Satisfaction” and “Accomplishment” don’t show up until like, two months later.


  1. I have approximately forty-eight seconds of spare time a day: Finding spare time in my house is like a Bigfoot sighting.  It’s rare.  It’s rumored.  When it does happen, nobody believes it.  Last week I instituted the “Write More” campaign.  I get a thirty minute lunch break at Day Job.  So, I eat my lunch (peanut butter and jelly sandwich, yogurt, and 90 calorie brownie.  Every day.  Every single day) faster than I probably should to encourage good digestion, and then spend roughly fourteen to sixteen minutes writing as much as I can.  Tuesday of last week I wrote one paragraph.  Wednesday I wrote an entire page.  But, it’s more than I would have gotten done otherwise.
  2. I hate competition: enough said.  I stay undefeated because I don’t compete.
  3. Guilt: On the weekends, The Hubs usually encourages me to sit in the bedroom, put on my headphones, and write as much as I can.  Which is good.  But, deep down I feel guilty because I feel like I’m abandoning my children.  I discussed this with KM Walton (author of Cracked) at the writer’s conference back in May.  She said, based on my concern for the boys and their wellbeing, she had a feeling they’d be just fine.  And they probably will.  But it’s still a hard feeling to shake.
  4. I don’t want to put Random Contemporary down and start a new project (caveat: NaNo Rebel.  Once a rebel, always a rebel and I’m prepared to cheat my way to success.  This one may note qualify as an actual negative).

So who knows.  I struggle with this every year and every year, I do it any way.  I’m on the fence now.  Tune in come November 1st and see what I’m saying then.  I have a suspicion words like “rebel” and “current word count” will be involved.

And, in other news, I’m like, 90% sure our artillery event is happening this weekend, since the government shut down is (temporarily) over.  So, if you’re in the Harpers Ferry, West Virginia area Saturday or Sunday, come on out.  We’ll be at the Bolivar Heights battlefield, site of the largest US troop surrender until the Philippines in WWII.  Come and say hello and give my Baltimore Light Artillery guys a hardy “huzzah!”  And, if on the off-chance the event isn’t happening, I’ll still be there.  I’ll just be blending in with the general public instead of running around in my sassy 1860s garb.  Garb which will, no doubt, include my wool cape because notoriously, this is the coldest event of the year.  I can’t speak for the rest of the guys, but my butt is staying in a hotel.  Even the Union and Confederate armies didn’t like to fight in the winter time.  I’m too old to wake up frost covered, thanks.



  1. I skip NaNo more often than I do it. I like the camaraderie (I feel like it’s companionship more than competition) but I dislike the pressure.

    I’m doing it this year because I have something new I want to write.

  2. I’m doing it for the very first time this year, and I’m pretty nervous. But I get so tired of stewing over comma placement and how nice the words look next to each other! Something must be done to cure myself of that!

    Whatever you decide to do, it will be the right decision, though I’d personally go for the chocolate cake. 😉

  3. Cheesecake only if it’s sunny and the cake’s fresh and chilled. But chocolate cake anytime.. especially while pantsing my way through November… this year had to go to camp as couldn’t get enough. Please don’t fret, whatever you do will be the right thing. I love nano because I challenging myself and find the pressure invigorates me.. My deliberations aren’t about nano or not, that’s a given every year now.. Which story to tell, that’s what I’m fretting over..

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