Friday Speak Out!: Escape with NaNoWriMo, Guest Post by Michelle Sussman

Friday, November 19, 2010
Escape with NaNoWriMo

by Michelle Sussman

I won NaNoWriMo in 2009, but it wasn’t a big surprise. I’d written a novel in a month the previous January with a group formed by author Carmela Martino called NYNN, New Novel New Year. It compromised a group of SCBWI writers who couldn’t find the time in November to participate in NaNo. We affectionately referred to each other as NYNNies.

Since I’d successfully completed a novel through NYNN, NaNo 2009 wasn’t a challenge for me. Once I get in the groove of writing, I find it hard to stop. I wrote another novel in May of 2010, so it was a natural for me to attempt NaNo again this year. I thought it would be easy.

I was wrong. It’s been a week and I’m already struggling to keep up. This time I find myself consumed with new responsibilities, particularly PTA. I’m one of those women who’s not happy unless she’s volunteering. I enjoy it. Volunteering fulfills me.

This month alone I have to write and compile the newsletter for PTA, write a column for SCBWI-Illinois’ Prairie Wind newsletter and prep a couple of parenting articles. All this plus days off school for my two kids, a trip out of town to see my husband’s family, Thanksgiving, prepping holiday cards, baking and spending time with my family. Do you see a pattern here? Do you see why it is so difficult to write an entire novel in the month of November? Is it possible there couldn’t be a worse time of year?

In fact, November is the best time of year. When I think of everything I have to do, I feel overwhelmed. When I’m stressed, there’s only one thing I want – to escape with a good book. Luckily NaNoWriMo gives me the ability to escape to my own worlds, my own imagination, during the lead up to the most stressful, albeit happy, time of the year.

Working on my NaNoWriMo novel is a gift I give myself. I might be a bit behind on word count, yes, but when I write I slip into a world all my own. No one bugs me about newsletter articles. No one tells me their perfect holiday cards are going to arrive in my mailbox before December 1st. When I’m in my NaNo novel, I can flee everything.

Is my NaNo novel perfect? Far from it. But it’s my world, my escape. Don’t treat it as another to-do list item because you won’t get in trouble if you don’t hit 50,000 words. Instead look at it as your escape and enjoy the trip!

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Michelle Sussman is a mom, wife and writer in the Chicago suburbs. A successful freelance parenting journalist and columnist for SCBWI-IL’s Prairie Wind, Michelle also aspires to become a published novelist. Visit her on her blog, Reading and Writing by Candlelight or chat with her on Twitter, @michellesussman.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Donna Milward said...

Nice way of looking at it Michelle! I'm a big chicken when it comes to NaNo. Still haven't done it. (ducking)

Carmela Martino said...

What a great way to look at it, Michelle!
I've been struggling with my pseudo-NaNo project, but I was recently reminded of the advice to "write the kind of book you want to read." That's been a help to me.
Happy writing!

eliana23 said...

Thanks, a reminder that we actually do this because it makes us happy.

Dayana Stockdale said...

I'm not nanoing but I agree that writing should always be viewed as an escape. If its just a thing on the to-do list, then what's the point?

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