On Momentum, Saying ‘No’ and Self-Belief

In the last three years I have spent November marking final assignments and completing numerous end of semester tasks. This year my November is, or was, free and I am participating in NaNoWriMo.

I have to admit, however, this month long word belch feels a little … is déclassé the word I’m looking for? After all, anyone I  know who has written a novel didn’t write it in a month.  

On the other hand I risk sounding like the kind of snob I occasionally met at Grad school; writers who turned up their noses at the very idea of a write-in with a weird acronym.

Just after deciding to take part in NaNoWriMo 2016 I read SuddenlyJamie’s inspirational blog post and, heartened by her balanced and sensible approach to the November madness, I plunged right in.

How have I gone so far? I’ve written 13,689 words in the last eight days, a little over the recommended daily average for a 50,000 word novel. Apart from taking a break on Sunday, and struggling to regain my momentum on Monday, the experience has been worth it. I admit to having trouble trusting the quality of the words but I understand that’s partly what NaNoWriMo is about; getting the words on the screen or the page and editing later. So far I’ve resisted the voice in my head saying, ‘You need a comma there. Oh, no, you’re not going to let THAT word stay are you? Good heavens, a ten year old could write a better sentence.’

I also wonder if I have the persistence to maintain my current word rate and the self belief necessary to compete the 50,000 word challenge and then craft, edit and polish the entire novel (a total of 75,000 words, once I add the 25,000 I wrote over two years ago). My biggest concern, however, is will I be able to say ‘No,’ to requests on my time?

Stephanie Krist

The kind of momentum required for something like NaNoWriMo is as much about self belief as time. I may not reach my goal of 50,000 words but that doesn’t mean I will fail. If I stop because I have a ‘my brain feels like wet straw,’ day or because I agree to requests that draw me away from my computer, I will fail; I will no longer be true to the idea of myself as a woman who writes.

I did not decide to participate in NaNoWriMo because I want, on the 30th November, a completed first ‘discovery draft’ of a novel. My participation is an act of faith in myself.

Are you taking part in this year’s NaNoWriMo? How do you gather and maintain the momentum needed to complete your daily word count? How do you maintain self belief?  How will you feel if you don’t meet your goal? (Would you like a writing buddy?)

6 thoughts on “On Momentum, Saying ‘No’ and Self-Belief

  1. Wishing you love luck perseverance and joy in NaNo. I had an epic fail two years ago, decided never ever to set myself up for that again… Incompatible with professional and curriculum demands. It seems to me you know well the obstacles. A phrase I have learned when asked to do something is Can i think about it and get back to you ? Then list 3 reasons for and against. Then say I would love to help because, but I’m afraid I cannot because …. No one would ask you to make a detour to the grocery store if you were physically run ing a marathon, would they? I would love a writing buddy but unsure if i write the stuff u like.x


    1. Hi Anne, thanks for the good luck and the very wise suggestions. My question is, lately, ‘what are my needs?’ When asked to do something and if what is asks fits in with what I need to do, have or be, then I can offer support or time. If not I am learning, slowly, to say ‘No, I cant help at the moment.’
      Up until the 9th day of NaNoWriMo I was going really well. The next day I was hit by a nasty stomach wog and all bets were, for a day or two, off. Whether the stomach problem had anything to do with the devastating outcome in the USA is a moot point. 😳 I’m recovering but have taken to pen and paper because sitting in front of the computer isn’t working for me at the moment. I’ve accepted I may not reach the 50,000 but I will keep going. Even 49,000 (if I get that) is more than I would have had I not given it a go.
      Not sure if writing the same kind of stuff is necessary, though it would help. I think the basic idea is mutual support and encouragement, and you have given me that. Thanks.


  2. I didn’t do NaNoWriMo this year, though I did do summer camp. And I found it was fairly easy for me to keep at it because making the commitment was like giving myself permission to sit down and write first thing every day until my words and ideas for that day were exhausted. In giving myself permission I felt very much the same way as you: “My participation is an act of faith in myself.” It was one of the most positive things about the experience for me (and the same feeling I had with Camp NaNoWriMo). I ended up just having fun without expectations and wound up with 90,000 words. You got this, girlfriend!!! 😉


    1. Hi Calensariel. Well, it WAS working until I came down with a stomach virus on Thursday (our time). It had little to do with your new President elect, but that situation didn’t help (yes, a lot of us here in Aust. were glued to the television). After two days enforced break I manage to eke out 800+ words today, so I’m not giving up yet, which is a message I’ll leave you folk in the USA who are still wondering what happened this week. Best wishes, Janet.


  3. Go Janet you wise and inspirational writer you!

    On Tuesday, 8 November 2016, Elixir: Creative and Reflective Writing wrote:

    > Janet Thomas posted: “In the last three years I have spent November > marking final assignments and completing numerous end of semester tasks. > This year my November is, or was, free and I am participating in NaNoWriMo. > I have to admit, however, this month long word belch feels ” >

    Liked by 1 person

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