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November 2018

The MO in NaNoWriMo

Orchard Houser Hey Writerly Women. Okay, so I know that NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and I do love that we have our own official month.  Why would we not? It is an honorable and complex thing we do, we novelists. Observing it by writing umpty-ump thousand words IN that month isn't what I'M choosing to do, but I AM observing it nonetheless by deciding that the MO stands for MOTIVATION. 

So in this Month of Novel Writing, let's consider two things about the MO.

ONE ..

WHAT is it motivating you to do?

HEIDI is turning an old short story into a novella. 

    After receiving a handful of rejections from agents, LILY is going back to her novel and reworking it with the advice of an expert in her genre.

    LESLIE has created a vision board and is breaking her dream writing career into objectives just as she did when she was teaching.

Me? I too have created a new vision board and I'm writing two full days a week now instead of one, as well as at least 30 minutes on the other days. So thanks, National Novel Writing Month. Good on ya. 

Vision board TWO ...

 November will be over in two weeks. What will KEEP us motivated after that? That really is the difference between writers who start and writers who finish. Writers who publish and writers who don't.  One of my favorite authors, Elizabeth George, says the ones with the most "butt glue" win. Charming as that sounds, she's right. Whoever sticks to the chair, fingers on the keyboard, gets it done. And that isn't about inspiration, which initially gets you going, but motivation, which keeps you going.

And let's not even call it discipline. That sounds like schedules, which we can all easily ignore, and rewards, which are self-administered and we can give ourselves whether we do the work or not so who are kidding?

Motivation is an inside thing that sounds something like this:

    * I have to write the book that shows women they need to love not from lack but from the fullness of themselves.

Mj writing*  I can't not write a novel that demonstrates that there's more than what we see.

  • If I don't write this story of the role a single human being can play in the defeat of racism, I won't have fulfilled my purpose.


What's your MO? Is it deep enough for you to stay up 'til midnight writing because that's when it's quiet? Big enough to make you pass up binge watching the next season of The Crown? Loud enough to drown out Facebook and YouTube? Fine enough to be worthy of a whole year of you? 

We would love to hear it. We need to hear it. It will motivate all of us.



Nancy Rue                                           

NaNoWriMo YOUR Way

Louisa's deskHey, Writerly Women -- and a good November to you. Among fiction writers - and maybe nonfiction too -- this month has become as much about NaNoWriMo as it has about turkeys and football and giving thanks. It only makes sense to spend this four weeks here on Doorways talking about what the 'write a bazillion words in 30 days' challenge can do -- and not do -- for writers. 

Odd as it may seem, let's start with an author who did so much for us as female writers beginning back in the Nineteenth Century - the brilliant Louisa May Alcott. 

She would have approved of NaNoWriMo, although for her it was more MayJuJulWriMo. Sitting at that widened curve in the woodwork where you see the vase of greens, (just to the left of the window) which her father fashioned for her as a desk, Louisa sat down for 14 hours a day from May until the middle of July and wrote the inimitable Little Women. Louisa-May-Alcott-145890283x1-56aa250a5f9b58b7d000fc52

Six. Weeks. 

Mind you, Louisa was living with her parents who were depending on her to write to support them. They basically said, "Go to your room and write!"  Also, she was writing an idealized version of her childhood so the story was in essence writing itself. So, yes, to sit down and get those words down in a rush was absolutely what Louisa needed to do. 

NaNoWriMo was for her.

But is it for everyone?

Is it for COLLEEN, who has spent months with me shaping characters and a wonderful outline? Should she then just throw down words she's going to have to go back and rewrite? 

Is it for DAWN, who is writing the last five chapters of the draft of her novel? Does it make sense for her to get channel fever and crank out those chapters?

And how about LILY, who's starting the first draft of the second book in her series? She tends to be a pantser going in, so why not, maybe?

I know that for me, the quintessential planner, NNWM would make me a crazier person than I already am (which is a very scary thought, right?) Writing at Walden POndI go to Walden Pond, absorb, make notes, come back and weave those into my outline, write the draft, revise the draft. So, uh, no, no 30 days of full out pouring it out. That does NOT mean it doesn't work for someone else.

What I see here is a great opportunity for each of us to --

    * define and fine-tune our process

   * set up our OWN challenges, deciding whether the ones presented to us suit our writing personalities

So what if in this month of November I present various possibilities and invite you to share yours? How does that sound?

If you want to comment, tell us if you're participating in NaNoWriMo and why or why not. No judgement. Just what works for you -- because as always, this is for you.