Did you know that November was National Novel Writing Month? Many novelists and aspiring novelists take up the challenge, which is to write a complete 50,000 word rough draft in those thirty days (maybe a chapter a day, 7 days a week). I applaud those who attempted it and admire those who actually accomplished it.


From what I’ve heard, a lot of advanced planning and preparation is key.  They may have been thinking about the book for months, and have the whole thing plotted out on paper before the month of frantic writing begins. That’s where I would hit my first roadblock: plotting.  I’m no good at it.

Most novelists fall into one of two distinct camps.  There are plotters and there are so-called “pants-ers” (i.e. fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants).  I fall into the latter group. When I start a novel, I usually have only a vague notion where I’m going, and even less idea how I’m going to get there. I know it sounds like crazy way to embark on a trip, but strangely enough it works out in the end (so far, at least), and the journey is a great adventure.

My other major issue with attempting the NaNoWriMo challenge is the concept of the rough draft – something else I stink at. The theory is that you just pour the story out from beginning to end without worrying about correcting flaws or fine tuning your prose. All that comes later during rewrites. And I see the wisdom in it. Make sure the story works first, then tidy it up.

In practice, however, I do just the opposite. I fret and fuss over every paragraph, every sentence within the paragraph, and every word within each line. I can’t seem to force myself to move on until I’m satisfied with the section I’ve just written. The risk is in wasting hours perfecting a couple pages that might get thrown out later anyway. The upside is that when it’s finally complete, my version of a rough draft is pretty polished.

Now you know why I’ve never attempted (and probably never will) the NaNoWriMo challenge, and why my progress on my current project seems slow. I’m writing the next installment of the Pride and Prejudice saga – the sequel to my sequel The Darcys of Pemberley. I’m currently on chapter six with a word count of 11,600. A completed novel runs in the neighborhood of 100,000 words btw. As you see, I have a ways to go. (Track of my progress on the Return to Longbourn page, and cheer me on.)

In the meantime, though, I will have a couple more things coming. For Myself Alone (another Austen-esque story) will be available in March, and a short story (Mr. Collins’s Last Super) before that. Stay tuned, and happy reading!

Miss Bingley’s attention was quite as much engaged in watching Mr. Darcy’s progress through his book as in reading her own; and she was perpetually either making some inquiry or looking at his page.  (Pride and Prejudice, chapter 11)

About Shannon Winslow

author of historical fiction in the tradition of Jane Austen
This entry was posted in Jane Austen, Jane Austen Quotes, Shannon Winslow's writing, writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to NaNoWriMo

  1. suzan says:

    got the test email…smiles. sorry I haven’t been commenting much lately

    • Thanks for letting me know, Suzan. I’ve been a little delinquent doing new posts (as I’ve tried to sort out how best to consolidate my website/blog), so you may not have missed much. I’ll try to do better in future!

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