Category: Creative Challenges

My Approach to NaNoWriMo 2015 (TLDR: I’m a Rebel)

Ah, NaNoWriMo. You have bested me every year since my first attempt–what, 11 years ago? (On a side note: 11 years?! Christ).

I’ve tried to circumvent the rules of NaNoWriMo for awhile now, in a desperate attempt to recover from the spectacular failures of yore. One year I partnered with a good friend to write some wonderfully twisted short stories. Another year I resolved to write a blog post every day and founded “NaBloPoMo.” Total number of participants: 1. At least for the first 8 days, then that number became 0. Those efforts quickly tumbled into the same deep pit where other NaNoWriMo projects have gone to die.

This year will be exactly the same different. I considered attempting one of the many ideas that were clogging my brain and causing much angst, but decided against it. I don’t think I’ll get very far just winging an entire novel. Besides, I can’t afford to start an entirely new big project at this time–I already have a short story collection and a nonfiction book to worry about!

Call it Progress, Not Failure

My NaNoWriMo approach this year is to continue where another creative project stalled. Over the summer I attempted Great Discontent’s #100DayProject with #100DaysofFlashFictionary: bite-sized fiction inspired by Merriam Webster’s Word of the Day. I posted each story on Instagram, and ended up with 25 entries all in all.

Though I only made it a quarter of the way through the 100 Day Project and technically failed the challenge, without the challenge those stories would have never been written at all. A few of those stories had enough material in them to become bigger stories, and one eventually went into my dissertation for my first MA.

Some might choose to see it as failure. I see it as progress.

So for 2015, I’ll attempt an additional 50k worth of short stories inspired by MW’s Word of the Day. I’m aiming for a fairy-tale theme to link them together, in the hopes of adding to my current short story collection, but I won’t stress if they aren’t fairy-tale related. I guess this makes me a NaNo Rebel, though the “rules” say if the short stories are related thematically then the work counts as regular NaNo.

Anyway, the NaNo admin don’t care about splitting hairs so neither will I. They’ve even created a board for NaNo Rebels, a motley crew featuring script writers, short story writers, academic writers, bloggers and memoirists. My kind of people.


I’m wrapping up this post just 30 minutes shy of midnight, November 01. If failure is inevitable, then at least I resolve to fail as far away from Day One as I can.

(As a pep talk that could have gone better, but based on previous attempts, it works to be cautious. Maybe I’ll end up surprising myself!)

If you’re doing NaNo as well, you can find me on the boards as embeepee. Feel free to add me as a buddy–the more the merrier!