DON’T STOP — Your Story Is Calling You

NaNoWriMoNaNoWriMo is my birthday present to myself each year. Every year, I love it. And every year, I hate it…there’s simply too much to do in the tiny little month of November.

I tend to arrive at December 1st a little bit out of breath.

And still, I love NaNoWriMo.

I love the community, the late-night writing sprints, the before and after parties my local team throws. I love the write-ins, the pep talks, the excitement and uploading my word count. I adore getting the chance to encourage my peeps and watch everyone chase their goals.

Whether you’re gearing up for NaNoWriMo or not, I wish you luck in your writing goals.

If you are doing the NaNo challenge, I’d like to address the dreaded phenomenon of the Week Two Wall where the initial endorphins have faded and the grind of a crazy writing schedule sets in.

Words like “can’t,” “shouldn’t,” and “haven’t” begin to rear their ugly heads.

We all hate those words, whether we’re doing a writing challenge or not. So before NaNo starts, I’d like to chat about what I consider to be a NaNo “win”:

  • Your very best = a NaNo win
  • Achieving your goal numbers = a NaNo win (ex: my goal this month is 25K, not 50K)
  • Finishing a project = a NaNo win
  • Forming new and amazing writing habits = a NaNo win

I think people get twitchy about some things that don’t matter during the month of November. You’ve seen this cartoon from InkyGirl, right?

NaNo should be fun.

The only word count that matters is YOURS.

Oh, you want a roadmap? Here’s Kristen Lamb’s 8 Elements to Nailing Your Plot & Owning NaNoWriMo.

And if you MUST “Go 50K or Bust”… Behold the NaNo Team’s Tips for Successful WriMos…

Overview of the things we wish we had known for our first NaNoWriMo:

1. It’s okay to not know what you’re doing. Really. You’ve read a lot of novels, so you’re completely up to the challenge of writing one.

2. If you feel more comfortable outlining your story ahead of time, do it! But it’s also fine to just wing it.

3. Write every day, and a book-worthy story will appear, even if you’re not sure what that story might be right now.

4. Do not edit as you go. Editing is for December and beyond. Think of November as an experiment in pure output.

5. Even if it’s hard at first, leave ugly prose and poorly written passages on the page to be cleaned up later. Your inner editor will be very grumpy about this, but your inner editor is a nitpicky jerk who foolishly believes that it is possible to write a brilliant first draft if you write it slowly enough. It isn’t.

6. Every book you’ve ever loved started out as a beautifully flawed first draft. In November, embrace imperfection and see where it takes you.

7. Tell everyone you know that you’re writing a novel in November. This will pay big dividends in Week Two, when the only thing keeping you from quitting is the fear of looking pathetic in front of all the people who’ve had to hear about your novel for the past month.

8. Seriously. The looming specter of personal humiliation is a very reliable muse.

9. There will be times you’ll want to quit during November. This is okay. Everyone who wins NaNoWriMo wanted to quit at some point in November. Stick it out. See it through.

Above are the NaNo team’s words. They have them squinched together into just a few tips, but I spread it out. All this wisdom needs to be heard. (Find MANY years of pep talks here.)

Now, for my “Jenny” wisdom…

10. Wherever you are on your writing journey, DON’T STOP.

The best is always yet to come because we keep improving the more we do it. I heard Linda Howard speak at a writer’s conference in San Diego some years back and I’ve never forgotten her words, which meant so much to me.

“Everybody dreams,” she said. “But writers are special because they write down their dreams.

“As writers, we can do anything and be anyone. You can be astronauts or spies or time travelers. Writers can go to amazing places and build imaginary worlds for others to visit.

“The sad fact is that no matter how hard you try, the music and the magic of your dreams will never be equaled by the words you put on a page.

“Do it anyway.”

There is no “perfect moment” so stop waiting for it. Even on those days when you feel that all is lost, when you wonder why you ever believed that YOUR words were important, keep at it.

Do it because you have to. Do it because you need to. Do it because the act of sharing those words is more than most people will ever attempt.

DON’T STOP. Your story is calling you.

Do you participate in writing challenges? Do you do NaNoWriMo? For my WriMo pals, what do you do in advance of November to get ready? Enquiring minds always want to know these things here at More Cowbell!


About Jenny Hansen

Avid seeker of "more"...More words, more creativity, More Cowbell! An extrovert who's terribly fond of silliness. Founding blogger at Writers In The Storm ( Write on!
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45 Responses to DON’T STOP — Your Story Is Calling You

  1. K.B. Owen says:

    Awesome post, Jenny! Even though I’m not doing NaNo, there’s so much positive stuff for me to take away from this post. Thank you!

    I’ll be cheering y’all on from the sidelines! Go, Jenny…GO! *shakes pompoms*

    Liked by 2 people

  2. AWESOME TIPS!!! Here I go…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I agree with K.B., this is an awesome post. I’m not doing NaNo, but your advice is excellent. Your number 10 hit me right in the gut (much like Lovenox). I keep waiting for the perfect moment–better job, more security, retirement–but I have to stop twaddling, and just do it. Thank you for the punch in the gut!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Gene Lempp says:

    Beautifully said, Wonder Twin. One more tip, leave inhibitions at the door and just write. Some of the best discoveries in history happened simply because someone let go of the things that held them back and just pressed on. Thanks for the link. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  6. I love NaNo. This is my third year and I’m super excited once again.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. S.J. Maylee says:

    Thank you, Jenny! Great post. 😀 My goal for Nano is 30k. This is the third year I’ll participate. I’ve never written 30k in a month but I always get close during Nano. You’re right. It is fun. Just knowing you’re not alone. Hey, where have we heard that one? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Kelly Byrne says:

    Fantastic advice, Jenny. That second week wall definitely seems 100 feet high and ten feet thick when you’re facing it. Will keep coming back to your post to remind myself to just keep swimming. Hugs. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Sue says:

    I hear the siren’s call that is NaNoWroMo But I also hear the excuses – my sister is coming home for a week, I’m going to the Steve Martin/Martin Short Concert, Thanksgiving, choir bell practice, day job, dogs to walk, hurricanes, weapons of mass destruction, studying rocket science, campaigning for the presidency- you know- all that day to day stuff.

    But what the heck- I’m in! My “win” will be to establish a daily writing habit and I will do this by writing at least 500 words each day without editing.
    That’s probably going to kill me, you know. It takes me a week just to write a blog post because of picky Mrs. Editor and the thought of writing an entire novel makes my butt cheeks clench.
    But here I am! Throwing caution to the wind! Public NaNoWriMo announcement!
    Now if you will excuse me, I have to go lie down now.


  10. yvettecarol says:

    Good on you participating! Report back later, I’ll be most interested 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Jane Sadek says:

    Good luck! Not my cup of tea, but I know people love it.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Rock it lady! No way do I have time to write something every day so I give you mad props for doing it.

    Liked by 1 person

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  14. karenmcfarland says:

    Okay, so I’ve decided to be an unofficial Nano participant. (Which, as you know is a huge step for me). I have reached a point in my first book where it should be ready to send out to betas. Who those will be, I haven’t the foggiest. Then I ran into your conversation with Gene the other day. Nosey, aren’t I? 🙂 Anyway, I thought, hmm, what am I doing in November? Maybe I should take this time to finish my second book which is about halfway done. Here’s my challenge: I have been doing so much rewriting and editing for I don’t know how long. Too long actually. But, now I’m going to have to train my brain to not edit. Yeah. This should be interesting. Yet, this will be a good excuse to jump right in. I just hope this story is still in my head Jenny. After our class with Rachel, I know that it is. It’s just trusting that it’s there.

    So I am putting #7 into practice and you know now what my goal is for November. I would say, come give me a kick in the butt, but you’ll be so busy pecking away at your story. Still, I’m going to give it a try. May the force be with you girlfriend! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Somehow it was very freeing to hear your 25K goal. I’m doing my own personal NaNo and challenging myself to 40K.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Susan Dunn says:

    You can do that, Deb.Jenny, great post.Agree with Deb but I like to blitz through a story and then rewrite. ;( and rewrite. 😦 etc. Congratulations on the Rising Star win.I hope that book is out making the rounds now. 🙂


  17. The Guat says:

    Duuuuuuuuuuude on Day 1 of this monstrous challenge I see the wisdom and awesome encouragement of More Cowbell. I LOVE IT!! LOVE IT!! Editing while I’m writing and going back over stuff I wrote before is always my Kryptonite. Last year I took upon this challenge and totally failed … Burrrrrrrrrrrn. I ended with 37 thousand and change at the end of the month but after the initial dude that sucks you didn’t make it moment I freakin high-fives myself for being a mother of two and handling all the Nick Jr. Craziness to make it to where I did…and then I didn’t stop so come December 30th I walked away with 50 thousand and I did my Rocky Balboa victory raise your hand in the air celebration. It was awesome so thanks for the inspiration!! I will totally do it again and set my goal this year the-less-than-50k goal 🙂 25 K sounds right sounds attainable and will result in a less stressed out crazy lack os sleep mother of two. Sounds like a high five kind of goal 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. The Guat says:

    Plus I love that quote you posted! Inspired this morning 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  20. Tim Gatewood says:

    Thank you for this article. I am doing the Non-Fiction NaNo this year (NaNonFiWriMo or Write Non-Fiction In November) and your encouragement here helps.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jenny Hansen says:

      You are very, very welcome Tim! I was under a deadline all weekend so I am just now surfacing to all these lovely comments from you. This is an awesome Monday gift. 🙂


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