NaNoWriMo update: Complete and Epic Fail


I thought that, with an extra week to write, NaNoWriMo would be a piece of cake.

My hubris got the better of me.

Last year, I was soooooo diligent in writing my novel, because I didn’t really have anything to do.  Sure, I was dealing with Hurricane Sandy’s aftermath, but I also didn’t have internet for about a week, so it was easier to hunker down and, you know, write.  I also was able to sneak in passages at my shitty job, and my semester was donezo, so I had loads more time to spare.  Back then, I wrote only a few articles for Matador, so NaNoWriMo took up most of my editorial timing.

Now however, I’m working for Matador full-time, and working on some awesome freelance gigs for a major company, and student teaching.  I try to write whenever I can, but it’s hard to even get my 1,500 words a day goal in – I teach until 3pm, get home and work until 11pm, and suddenly, it’s time for bed.

I don’t think I’ll be nearing the 50,000 word mark this time around.  I’m halfway there, which is admirable in itself, but the odds are not looking good.  What is good is that I will definitely be working on this project after NaNoWriMo is over, with plans to publish it sometime this summer.  So I won’t be abandoning the idea swiftly, but I won’t be achieving my goal of NaNoWriMo winning for a second year in a row.

But who knows?  December doesn’t start until Sunday – maybe I’ll get a second win, and come out all right.  For those of you participating this year, how is it going during this final stretch?

5 reasons why travel writers should participate in NaNoWriMo

Sardinal, Costa Rica. ©KatkaTravels

It makes you try out a new style of writing.  While it’s awesome to be an expert in a certain genre, as writers, we should be challenging ourselves.  That means diverging away from traditional travel writing, and trying something different.  How would you incorporate your travels into a fictional story?  What elements from your writing can you bring to something totally out of the box?

It instills diligence.  The best way to get better at writing, is to write – a lot.  Like, all of the time.  You should honestly write something every day, even if it’s just a short blog piece, or a letter to a friend.  Even journaling is good.  But to really excel at writing, you have to write with a purpose.  Crafting your NaNoWriMo story is an awesome way to up your game.

It teaches you the art of setting small goals.  “I want to travel to Alaska from Argentina by motorbike in one month!”  Awesome idea, maybe not totally realistic – especially if you don’t own a motorbike.  It’s the same thing with NaNoWriMo – “I’m going to write 50,000 words in one week!” is totally unrealistic, but setting a smaller goal like “I will write 1,500 words a day” is like saying “I will learn to first ride a motorbike before embarking on this adventure.”

The 21 rule.  Some debate this as actual truth, but supposedly, if you do something for 21 days in a row – yoga, using new vocabulary, washing the dishes – it becomes habitual.  I think there is some credence to that, because if you do something long enough, you do get better at it, and it does become somewhat second nature.  So if you write every day, for 21 days at least, most likely, you’ll continue writing on day 22, 23, 24…This is good for travel writers because you will always find time to write, even when days on the road get hectic.

There is publishing potential.  This is the perfect opportunity to get started on that eBook you’ve been putting off.  When my eBook was published through Thought Catalog, I had a limit of 30,000 words – if you choose to go through a publisher, you may have already exceeded the maximum amount of words required of you with NaNoWriMo.  If you choose to self-publish, all you will have to worry about is cohesion.  After one month and a little editing, you’ll have a completed work that you can actually make money off of.

Are you participating in this year’s event?  

Add me as a buddy – username katkatravels.

Dos and Don’ts for a Successful NaNoWriMo

It’s that time of year!  National Novel Writing Month is upon us.  For the entire month of November, people around the world will attempt to write 50,000 words in thirty days.  It’s intimidating for many, but with a bit of diligence and planning, your NaNoWriMo experience can be pretty pain-free.

I participated last year and sneaked by with an official word count of 50358.  It was particularly challenging because I was dealing with the destruction of my apartment from Hurricane Sandy (which the novel was based on), but I forged through it and it came out awesome in the end.  It really helped me develop my writing skills, and more than a year later, I am an editor for Matador Network, and I’ve published my first eBook.

NaNoWriMo doesn’t have to be hard.  These Dos and Don’ts will help you achieve the 50k goal without too much stress:

DO Keep the concept of NaNoWriMo in mind.  Your goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days, not produce the perfect piece of literature.  NaNoWriMo works on the kamikaze concept – let it flow, just write words, and don’t bother with editing.  You’ll have all year to edit your novel and make it better/into something publishable.  For now, just write.

DON’T make it about the word count.  If you stress over making the goal, your experience will be less fulfilling.  Setting goals outside of the word count will put things into perspective for you, and will be more structured overall.

DO set smaller goals.  Like writing at least one page every day (you’ll probably write more than that).  Or writing for at least one full hour a day (it’s amazing what you can accomplish during the time it takes to watch a mind-sucking reality TV show).

DON’T set out to write “The next great American novel.”  It’s not going to happen.  You might get to the point that you’ll publish it some day, but don’t think about that during NaNoWriMo.  Just be super creative and have fun with it!

DO write something you’d actually want to read.  Maybe it’s a fantasy you have with Channing Tatum.  Or perhaps you have a great idea for a Game of Thrones-esque story.  Go with it – forcing a novel based on what someone else might want to read is annoying and counterproductive.

DON’T work in front of the TV.  You’ll never get anything done.

DO use the NaNoWriMo website.  There are some awesome tools, forums, and support groups you can join that will help you along the way.

Are you participating in this year’s event?  

Add me as a buddy – username katkatravels.


NaNoWriMo: The Winner Takes It All

I briefly posted last week that I had achieved the goal of completing a 50,000 word novel by November 30th, 2012. This is exciting for me because A) my discipline was able to motivate me and help me forge ahead and B) it’s just proof that I can do it at all.

I recently had an argument with a former classmate on the concept of writing a certain amount of pages for an academic paper within a certain amount of time. Her excuse was that people have lives outside of school and when deadlines are not structured into the completion of the program, it’s nearly impossible to hand in an assignment on time. My reasoning was that if you care about something, you make time for it. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time even – during NaNoWriMo I was always able to find a solitary hour or two to write even during my hectic full-time school/full-time work/full time Hurricane Sandy junk. Why?

Because achieving the goal of NaNoWriMo was important to me.

The amount of effort we put into activities dictates our passion towards them. Think of a high school or class that you excelled in – why do you think you did so well? Because you cared about it enough to put the time in and get a good grade.

And there is definitely a difference between not being able to do something, and not full on not caring. Just because you don’t care about something doesn’t mean you’re a bad person, it just means that you are funnelling your energy and time into stuff that you do care about. I think that’s admirable and everyone has their own priorities. For example, I have math homework that I put off allllll the time to write travel articles instead. Am I the worst person in the world for not wanting to do math? No. It will get done. Just not as fast as I get my travel writing done…

So I am thrilled to have accomplished NaNoWriMo the first time around, and I can’t wait to participate next year. At this point, it’s time to revise and edit the content and see if it is worth publishing. I don’t have a lot of time to dedicate to that now – in the process of finishing schools and possibly moving. After this semester ends, things will be better.

How was your NaNoWriMo experience? Were you able to reach the 50k goal?

NaNoWriMo Update: I DID IT! I WON!

Word count: 50,385.  Goal: 50,000

WOO HOO!  I DID IT!  I submitted my novel at 8:30pm and met my word count deadline! Time to celebrate with a lovely seasonal coffee from Starbucks.  I’ll write a full update soon, but YAY FOR ME!

NaNoWriMo Update: The Home Stretch

I did it! Hooray!

Word count: 44,253  Goal: 50,000

One more day to reach 50k! Although NaNoWriMo has definitely been harder than I thought, I think I’ll finish on time. Writing the content is the easy part, it’s finding the time to write that is the issue. After all the personal challenges I’ve faced lately I am proud that I’ve gotten this far, and created something very special.

I’m just pissed though, because I only discovered the NaNoWriMo website the other day. I could have been tracking my progress, connected with like-minded WriMos, participated in local write-ins and more. Oh well – now I’m registered and I can be more proactive next year.

So now that NaNoWriMo is over, I can concentrate on bigger things – like my new website! Be on the lookout for, where you’ll find a more personalized version of this blog, along with some more professional information and links to other sources. Yay!

Did you reach your NaNoWriMo goal? Are you a part of the NaNoWriMo community online? Let me know your user name and we’ll become buddies!