Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

Uh Oh, NaNo!

I was cruising along on the WordPress reader today and many posts about NaNo planning scrolled past.  Normally, I would be hard-pressed to pull myself away from the posts of my fellow bloggers as I tend to wallow in anything about writing I can find.  But today, I had to stop reading.

For those who have been following my blog, I have spoken fondly of NaNoWriMo, and given advice to those who have never made the attempt.

And yet, here I sit, mere days from the start of my favorite challenge of the year, and my mind is a blank.

I had a spark of an idea at the start of the month, something that found me after being buried in a notebook for years. And my mind immediately began to formulate scenes and motivation and characters.  But I put on the brakes.  It was too soon.  I cannot start NaNo planning too early or I will care too much about the finished product and I will remain frozen at the starting line unable to write a single sentence.

So I thought of other things.  I worked on other non-writing projects. I did no research, no character sketches, no outlines…

Now, I read that I am surrounded by planners! People have completed timelines, drawn maps of their worlds, filled an entire wall with sticky notes and pinned up strings to show the interconnectedness of plot points.

And suddenly I feel like I am way behind!  The gun went off and the other runners sprinted ahead while my head was in the clouds.

But wait, this happens every year.  I just have to remind myself of that.  I often have no clue what to write about until a week before.  Perhaps it is that panic that causes the adrenaline coursing through my veins to set off the brain synapses and create a plot idea.  That’s some sort of scientific fact, right?

I just have to remember to keep breathing and moving forward…

oh, and now, would be a good time to start taking some notes for my NaNo novel. 🙂


  1. My last two NaNo’s were seat of my pants – write something from day one with absolutely no planning whatsoever…talk about frenzied! This year after a hiatus of two, I have begun to think of subjects for each chapter and a couple of characters I will use throughout. As this is a ‘new’ way of writing for me – the afore mentioned seat of pants has been my usual mode…it will be interesting to see if this works better or not.
    Good luck our muse usually sits down and speaks when we most need them.

    • Very true…I am hoping the muse appears in the next ten days and gives me some direction. Of course, I know she won’t show if I am not working. That is the battle I have to face now… Show up to the desk every day and let my imagination run amok! The muse helps those who help themselves. 🙂 Good luck in November!

      • I’ll squeeze in NaNo in between home & work commitments as always. I’m in countdown mode at the moment…

  2. in the past I pantsed NaNo. This year I want to plan, but I haven’t done a thing about that yet. When I think about the fact NaNo is mere days away I get stressed. I do have a story idea, I know the beginning, the middle, but I don’t know the end — and that worries me. When I don’t know the end, then I don’t have a good chance of plotting a good book. It’s just going to be a mess.

    We still have a week and a half. There’s still time…

    BTW, what is your NaNo username? I’ll buddy you. 🙂

    • So glad to know I am not the only late planner here! Chris Baty wrote that you should only allow yourself a week to plan otherwise you are too invested in the story and will focus on quality over quantity in November. Here’s hoping he was right! My NaNo name is story pixie. Buddy me and I will buddy you back! 🙂

  3. Alisa Russell

    First, thanks for the blog follow. I am trying to be more of a planner this year, but parts of it are giving me problems so we will see. My goal this year is to actually have a complete draft at the end of November, not just the 50,000 words.

    • Welcome to my little corner of the internet, Alisa!
      I have “won” NaNo four times and have ended up with one complete and ready to edit ms, one that still needs an ending, but I needed a break after 52,000 words with that set of characters, and two that need a lot of rearranging and tweaking before I can call them done and ready for edits. The parts are there but my mind was a bit flighty those years and at midpoint I kinda stopped writing in any kind of sequence. It is definitely easier to edit and work with the one that I wrote linearly and completed. Good luck!!

  4. Anna Scott Graham

    Like you, I don’t like planning too early; I like leaving October just for that task. I have a couple of ideas that I’m really excited about, so that makes all the difference for me when it comes to plotting.

    Thanks for following my blog! Sending you plenty of plot-like vibes. 🙂

    • Thanks Anna! I need all the plot vibes I can get! 🙂

  5. I haven’t done a ton of planning. I have a general idea, but I am hoping to really have fun with this NaNo and follow lots of Twitter prompts. We can be behind together.

    • I did read where one year someone wrote his entire novel by randomly picking dares and adopting plots on the NaNo forums. Not sure I am ready to pants it to that extent! 🙂 But I will definitely be looking for inspiration wherever I can find it. 🙂

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