NaNo Truths

From Flickr's Creative Commons by Monda@NoTelling

From Flickr’s Creative Commons by Monda@NoTelling

One week and two days of NaNoWriMo, and here’s how it’s going.

I’ve put my butt in the chair everyday and written until my eyeballs were falling out of my head. To help me accomplish this, I’ve been drinking copious amounts of black coffee in the morning (well, at all times of day, really) and I’ve started smoking (cigarettes). I’ve stopped cooking—can’t be bothered, really, and all we’ve eaten is Cheetos and brownies. I’ve told everyone I see at the coffee shop that “yeah, that’s right, I’m ‘doing NaNo,’ this year, and it’s awesome.” Everyone I’ve told has been struck speechless. I thought about taking LSD and driving up a windy mountain road with a teenage hostage, but thought the better of it. At night, I’ve exchanged the coffee for shots of Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey and write more… I’ve written over 13K words.

The truth…

I’ve been drinking copious amounts of black coffee in the morning (well, at all times of day, really) I used to use milk in my coffee, but I started drinking black coffee last month because I’m lactose intolerant. I drink only one cup of coffee, first thing in the morning, or it keeps me up at night.

…and I’ve started smoking (cigarettes). Nope.

I’ve put my butt in the chair everyday and written until my eyeballs were falling out of my head.I’ve written for at most four hours each day and one day only three. In truth there were two days I wrote nothing at all.

I’ve stopped cooking—can’t be bothered, really, and all we’ve eaten is Cheetos andbrownies. Truth is, I cooked every night and even made a new recipe: quinoa pilaf with almonds and cranberries. It was delicious. I did bake brownies, too. I wanted to eat Cheetos but I resisted.

At night, I’ve exchanged the coffee for shots of Bushmill’s Irish Whiskey and write more… This is untrue. I did have a quarter of a glass of wine with the quinoa pilaf (I’m a lightweight). The Bushmill’s is a nod to Denis Leary’s Rescue Me (one of my favorite TV shows). The truth is that every night we ate brownies and watched movies: dumb, scary, and ones that were supposed to be funny. My favorites: Loopers (which also terrified me) and Beyond the Pines. Admissions was a disappointment.

I’ve told everyone I see at the coffee shop that “yeah, that’s right, I’m ‘doing NaNo,’ this year, and it’s awesome.” I’ve only been to the coffee shop once and I spoke to one person who I didn’t mention NaNoWriMo to. I did mention it to several people I ran into when I went to get new tires and at the grocery store and also in casual conversation at Trader Joe’s. No one had ever heard of it… “Nano, huh?” (and then they really were struck speechless)

I thought about taking LSD and driving up a windy mountain road with a teenage hostage, but thought the better of it. This is actually somewhat true—well not me—I wrote about a guy who took LSD and drove up a windy foothills road with a teenage girl he was in love with. This was my favorite moment of NaNoWriMo so far, actually, because it was one of the days that I really did make myself write because it was NaNo, and I never envisioned this particular character doing these particular things, but it came to me in a flash, and it will most definitely stay in the book.

I’ve written over 13K words. YES! According to the NaNoWriMo website, at my rate I’ll finish (my 50,000 words) in early December, and I’m thrilled. Prior to NaNo I wasn’t writing anything, and now I’m writing (almost) everyday. Better yet, I’m fully engaged and in love with the story. It’s all I see in my head, all day long, even when I’m not writing, and once that happens I know I’m in the zone.

Will I do it again? I’m not sure, but this year NaNo was the way to go, and that’s the truth.

What are some truths (and lies) about your week? Are you doing NaNoWriMo? How’s it going?





  1. ej runyon says:

    This is one of the better, if not best NaNo updates I’ve seen blogged in many, many years of participating in the event. My first year was 2001. Thanks for this. And kudos, I’m saving it off for my creative writing students.

  2. Terri says:

    Thank you so much for writing this!!… I feel I’m probably at the same stage as you writing wise, I too will finish early December according to the NaNo website, and I have hardly written anything at all this weekend, I was going strong before that. Reading this has made me feel a littler better about not being on target with the word count. You are totally right, the main thing is – we are writing, and almost everyday.. before trying NaNo for the first time this year, the biggest thing I had written was only a 1400 word short story – now I’m on 13,427 words and that’s a HUGE achievement. Good luck for the rest of it 🙂

    • I’m so glad the post resonated with you, Terri! And that’s wonderful that you’ve written over 13K words — way to go!! If you’re like me, taking a weekend off will invigorate you all the more and give you a renewed excitement about getting back to it. Nice to meet you! Thank you for your visit to my blog and especially for your kind comment.

  3. Lisa says:

    This is a great NaNo update, Julia. I’m so glad that you’ve found the zone, are writing, and love what you are working on. That’s all that matters, word count be damned. Now I’m off to write my own update.

  4. Karen Wojcik Berner says:

    Loved this, Julia! You are right, the best thing about NaNoWriMo is writing every day. It’s given me permission to put all the marketing, promotion, and daily neurotic flogging aside and focus on what’s really important– the writing. It’s also helped me to keep focus while being on crutches for the last few days from a knee injury on Thursday. What stress? I can write with my leg elevated, ever-present cup of tea still next to me. It’s all good. 🙂

    • Oh man, your knee injury sounds painful… so sorry! I guess, as you say, the silver lining is more time/immobilization to focus on the writing (hopefully the pain isn’t too great). Yes, permission to put aside the other stuff is huge. I agree. And I also feel more invigorated for everything, not just writing! It’s a rush! 🙂 Hope your knee is all better soon!

  5. Hah! This is such a great post. It’s sounds like you’re really enjoying the challenge this month. 🙂

    It’s going well for me, too, I’m ahead or the game just slightly behind with my word count. I’m stoked to just see the words on the page though, and to be getting a larger sense of how this book is supposed to work.

    • Glad you enjoyed the post, Andrea! I really am enjoying the NaNo challenge a lot, hope you are too. I love how you put it: “…getting a larger sense of how this book is supposed to work.” That is one of the reasons I love the fast track writing — it gives an idea in very short shrift of whether or not I’m passionate about a project! Thank you so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog!

  6. This is brilliant, Julia. Your honesty is so refreshing, and it’s something I really needed to hear. NaNo isn’t all adrenaline rushes and unicorns, but I am starting to value it for the commitment it helps jumpstart to write every day. And, I’m so glad you haven’t started smoking! (Huge sigh of relief on that one…it’s the health nut in me.)

    Like you, I have a feeling I could get a lot more words done if I pushed everything aside…no evenings with E, or gym workouts, or cooking fun meals at night. But I’m not sure that would nurture my writing; I think it’d really hamper it actually. This week, one of the reasons I didn’t get more writing done is because I had evening plans almost every day—a book group meeting, a gathering of local authors reading at a bar, my volleyball games and writing workshop. And I don’t think I’d trade those experiences for just a few more thousand words.

    • Thanks, Natalia, glad you liked it! I too am valuing NaNo for its commitment to help jumpstart me (how I needed that!). Yes, those good times away from writing are critical, not just for our writing but for our peace of mind… we’ll never get that time back! The words will come, of that I’m sure. (p.s. as for smoking, NEVER! Someday I’ll tell the very sad story of why I’m so very opposed to it.)

  7. You are too funny, Julia! When I read that first paragraph, I thought to myself: I can’t picture Julia smoking…. Then I thought, but how do I know that! 🙂 I haven’t reached my word count goal, because I went to visit my beloved BFF. However, I am caught up on almost everything now and ready to push through it this week. Thanks for the good laugh and encouragement! Xx

    • Wait, you couldn’t picture me smoking, but you don’t mention the LSD? 😉 Visiting the BFF is absolutely much higher priority than the word count.. and will no doubt boost your productivity this week! So glad you enjoyed the post and got a laugh. Have a wonderful writing week!

  8. Nina says:

    Ha! As soon as I saw the cigarettes I was like WHAH?

  9. I’m just over 10,000 words. I don’t write every day. I write every few days. It seems to be working. I’m just glad that Nanowrimo is out there. Deadlines are gifts to writers. Good luck with finishing the rest of your novel!

    • I’m glad NaNoWriMo is out there, too, J.R. It’s been very helpful to me as well — here’s to more wonderful writing. Thank you so much for your comment and for your visit to my blog!

  10. Bravo, Julia! 13,000 words is a wonderful start. You’re well on your way.

    I’m curious if you wrote an outline before NaNo started. It seems that some writers do that so they can spend the time writing rather than researching. Or are you a pantser? 🙂

    • Thanks, Jackie! As for my outline… I was actually already started on this WIP but I was stuck not sure how to proceed — with a partial outline. I’ve been planning as I go, filling in, and even (shhhh!) editing! I’ve done a little researching and planning during NaNo but mostly I’m writing. I’m a little less organized in my outline this time, but in general I would definitely not consider myself a pantser!

  11. Cynthai Robertson says:

    Quinoa pilaf with almonds and cranberries, YUM! 13K is something to be proud of, Julia. Keep going!
    I must admit I was relieved when I realized you were kidding about the cigs and LSD. Oh, and the hostage. Very funny. 🙂

  12. CG Blake says:

    This is a fantastic update, especially the beginning “fiction” section. Very clever. I feel your pain. After day 10, I am ahead of the game (18,000 words), but in a panic now because I am running out of story. It takes a brave soul to do NaNo. Hang in there.


    • Thanks for your comment, Chris, and so glad you enjoyed the update! 18K words is fabulous… and as for the panic, if you’re like me, once you’re in the chair, in the zone, the story will come. From one brave soul to another: you can do it! Thank you so much for your visit to my blog! Julia

  13. When I got to cigarettes I went “Oh no!” When I got to LSD I went “hmmm…” Thanks for the laugh. Keep up the good work!

  14. Laura Ehlers says:

    Your Nano truths made my day! My truth right now- I am having that awful ‘everyone will hate this’ self doubt. I have written every day except Sunday. That includes Saturday when I also cleaned and had a dinner party!! My word count is at 11600. Running behind but better than October’s count. I get up every day looking forward to actually writing again which to me is a WIN! Good luck and keep it up!!

    • Sooo glad I made your day, Laura! We’re really all in this together, and boy do I understand the self doubts… it seems that I have alternating days of “this is THE BEST” and “wow does this suck.” I’m so impressed with your writing streak, congratulations! Like you, I can’t help but feel that the re-enthusiasm is the win! The added word count is icing on the cake! Nice work!!

  15. CLEVER! Now THIS is a fun post!

  16. Lisa Alber says:

    Hi Julia,

    I’ve seen your comments on The Debutante Ball, and just wanted to say “hi.” Aimee’s point #4 resonated with me today too. I love this blog post about NaNoWriMo — congrats on doing it!

    Cheers, Lisa

    • Hi Lisa, So glad you dropped by! I’m always very glad to meet other writers (especially who resonate with #4). I read on your FB page about your approach to NaNo — love it! So glad you enjoyed my post; I’ll look forward to your next one on Debutante Ball. Thanks again for reaching out. Cheers, Julia

  17. Eliza says:

    This is a fabulous post, Julia! Thanks for keeping it real. I cracked up reading it. For a second before I got to the “truths” I was doing some all-mighty scrambling, wondering how I could have read you so wrong! (chain-smoking, doing LSD, abducting teenagers …) 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Eliza! As for getting me wrong (with the smoking, LSD, and abductions), you never know what surprises we writers have up our sleeves, do you? Isn’t that what makes this so fun? 🙂

  18. Dead proud of you! You’re doing fab! You did have me thinking you’d had a personality transplant for a moment there, so feeling a tad relieved as well as proud… although Bushmills… mmmmm! I shall say no more ;o) xo

    • THANK YOU!! Glad you enjoyed and I caught you off guard! As for the Bushmills… I think you and I may have to have a shot or two when we finally meet in person, don’t you? xoxo

  19. CMStewart says:

    Congratulations on NaNo-ing this year! Here’s how my own NaNo is going: I’m way ahead on my daily word counts, I know exactly where my story is going, I have smooth transitions between scenes, and I’m even writing my scenes in sequential order! Well, the truth is . . everything I just wrote, it’s the exact opposite. But I’m determined to win again this year, gonna keep chugging along . . good luck to you to!

    • Well, now YOU had ME going… 🙂 That’s great that you are determined to win “again this year” (which means you’ve done it before, that’s fabulous and gives hope to those of us who are doing it for the first time — like me). Here’s to chugging along! Sending you good luck, and thanks for visiting my blog and leaving a comment! Nice to meet you!

  20. Good.for.YOU! Sounds like you are a very healthy writer, what with your healthy meal and just a bit of wine. I once read that the idea of being a miserable artist has gone out the window and being a healthy non addict artist is the new norm. I agree! I know that when I feel healthy, I feel more open to let my art out. Anyway, it sounds like this process has been wonderful for you. Kudos!

    • Thanks, Lindsey! As for being a healthy writer… some days are definitely better than others. Alcohol isn’t my thing (probably the result of being witness to too many family alcoholics) BUT I do have a tendency to enjoy a little too much junk food at times… mostly of the candy variety. But as you say, feeling healthy is the new way to go, and it makes us better at getting our writing out there. Thank you so much for your visit to my blog and for taking the time to comment!

  21. Shary says:

    Congrats on managing to live your life while you do NaNo! I have a feeling that by next week, you’ll be ahead of your word count. I love how focusing on forward motion turns off that hyper-critical editor we all have. Can’t wait to hear more about your new WIP.

    • Thanks Shary — for reading and for your support! I just crossed the half way mark yesterday so you may be right that I’ll be ahead by next week, here’s hoping. You really nailed it on the head that the forward motion is the best silencer of the inner critic… especially during Nano, there’s just no time!

  22. amy says:

    I like how in reality you have continued with your real life while managing to start a new daily habit and be motivated to stick to it. I too have carried on and tried new recipes and still had time to read. At this rate I don’t know if I’ll finish on time because weekends with the family don’t allow for much writing, but I have become more confident in my new routine and know that post NaNo I’ll just have to invent some reason and cool visual tracking device to help me remember why I must write every day. Best of luck to you.

    • Amy! You brought up something I was just thinking about this morning… READING. That’s the one thing that has fallen more or less by the wayside while NaNo-ing. I am really missing it, too. But, like you, I’ve become more confident in my new routine, and I’m hoping that when I can be a little less intense about writing, the reading will be naturally woven back in. And if you invent a tracking device, please let me know — I need that too! Best of luck to you as well (and thank you for your comment and visit to my blog!).

  23. So no smoking like a chimney or dropping acid? Pooh. Maybe I need to buy a pack of Virginia Slims and smoke one each day to make it through the PeeWee leagues. NaBloPoMo. Love this Julia.


  1. […] I were brilliant, like my blogging and NaNo buddy Julia Martin, and tell you even more astonishing NaNo Truths but I don’t have to, because the truth  about this week is amazing […]