Team NaNoWriMo: The Value of Perseverance

boys and baseballI have talked about the Princess Syndrome here before. It can be the reason people don’t publish on their blog regularly. It can be why people give up on blogging.

I wrote that post for others, but mostly I wrote it to myself, as a kick in the pants. Perfectionism still rears its monstrous head when I write.

I say to myself, “Wait. I can make that sentence better.” Or, “That word is not quite the right one.” Or, “That transition was weak. I must work on that.”

And so it goes.

The problem with my perfectionism is this. I will never finish the book if I keep fiddling with each sentence, each paragraph. I want to write that “shitty first draft,” as the acclaimed author Anne LaMotte calls it, but it’s a challenge for me.

It is still hard for me not to write three pages, go back and edit those three pages, once, twice, five times before I move on.

But here’s the deal:

“You gotta make something first before you can make it better.”

Okay, I made that up, but I believe it’s true.

I am one-third of the way through the rough draft of my memoir. 30,000 words written in a 90,000-word manuscript. Just when I was starting to feel stuck:

Along Comes NaNoWriMo

I envy the writers who are self-disciplined, who crank out their set goals of a certain number of words or pages every day. I wish I could be that way. It must come easier with practice but for now, I need that kick in the pants, those deadlines, that accountability.

NaNoWriMo, short for National Novel Writing Month, happens every November. The idea is that writers will go from zero words to a completed novel (at least 50,000 words) in thirty days.

Perhaps it is the camaraderie and team spirit that makes NaNoWriMo appealing to me. This time around, 122,077 writers have accepted the assignment. There is definitely a feeling that we are in this together. And if we stick together, and support each other, we can win. (Winning being simply finishing.)

They Said I Was a Rebel

Here’s the thing. NaNoWriMo has rules. The requirement is that we write a 50,000+-word novel in one month. My project didn’t qualify, so they tossed me into the ‘Rebel’ Category. I am comfortable with that. In fact, it’s a nice place to be. We even have our own forum, aptly named “NaNo Rebels.”

What rules did I break?

1. Participants must write a novel. 

That means it must be a work of fiction. As you know, my book is a memoir, so by definition it’s nonfiction—a true story.

Memoirs that have not been fictionalized are rebellion.

2. Participants must write the book from scratch.

I have written 30,000 words. I have 60,000 words to go, which qualifies for the 50,000-word requirement. But I have a partial manuscript so I am not writing this book from scratch.

Continuing a work-in-progress is rebellion.

I have registered and will report my word counts daily, with the possible exception of weekend days.

If you’ve always wanted to write a novel and you’d like to take up this crazy challenge, you can learn more or sign up here.

If You’re Not Quite Up to NaNoWriMo

A friend of mine, Nick, who is the Online Partnerships Manager over at, just emailed me some information on a new event they are staging this year. Grammarly (affiliate link) is an application that helps both native and non-native users of English improve their writing by scanning the text and offering suggestions for grammar, spelling, and vocabulary usage. It even helps you avoid plagiarism by checking your text against more than 8 billion web pages.

Their November event is called GrammoWriMo and it sounds like a lot of fun. The goal is to publish a book with “the largest number of authors of any novel ever written.” Writers who accept the assignment will contribute scenes or chapters of at least 800 words of a 50,000-word novel.

You can still sign up (until October 25) and Grammarly will add you to the queue of authors and notify you when it’s your turn to contribute up to 800 words to your assigned chapter.

How cool is that?

Two Upcoming Conferences: Will I See You?

I’ll be attending two professional conferences in the coming months, one on writing and one on blogging. Mr. WordPress (my other half) will be presenting at both and I’m coming along to soak up the sessions and connect with like minds, some of them people who I’ve been online friends with forever but have never met in real life.

I’ll be at the 2013 Whidbey Island Writers’ Conference on Whidbey Island, Washington, Friday, October 25 – Sunday, October 27.

And I just purchased my ticket for the 2014 BlogWorld/New Media Expo in Las Vegas January 4-6 at the Rio All Suite Hotel (affiliate link.)

If you are going to either one of these events, please let me know because I would love to connect with you there.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo?

If so, did it inspire you to write more?

Make sure you don’t miss a post.


  1. Kaarina Dillabough October 23, 2013 at 9:08 am #

    And another saying: “Nothing was every created and perfected in the same moment.” So just write baby, just write (as my friend Josh said to me:)
    I’m going to check out the NaNoWriMo site: perhaps that’s the siren call that will finally get me off my butt and “just write”! I just finished a 1500 word little piece that I’m submitting by deadline tomorrow for a Spooky Short Story Writing contest by Random House for Canadians. It simply flowed, so that’s a good thing. And I’m not sweating perfection: I’m just writing. Cheers! Kaarina P.S. I see that your posts still aren’t coming up in triberr under our little 2-person tribe. Maybe once you’re back from conference, you/Bob can check into that. I hate to miss any posts of yours.


    • Judy Lee Dunn October 23, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

      Kaarina My Friend,

      Yes, that quote in your first line? I need that stitched on a pillow! Congrats on finishing that short story. I love entering contests because even if I don’t win, it’s such good practice. I’m working on a piece for Good Housekeeping right now. Their contest is called “Every Mom Has a Story” and since I’ve been writing so much about my own Mama lately, I thought I would give it a go.

      Thanks for the heads up on Triberr, I don’t know what the heck the problem is. I will definitely get it figured out when I get back from the Whidbey Island conference.

      Thanks for visiting the blog. Always great to get one of your fine comments.


  2. Trace October 23, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    You inspire me, you rebel! This might be the year I try fiction!


  3. Judy Lee Dunn October 23, 2013 at 3:04 pm #


    If I can inspire you, heck, what more could I want? Let me know if you are going to give NaNoWriMo a whirl. Would love to see you over there. : )


  4. Corinne Rodrigues October 24, 2013 at 6:43 am #

    Hi Judy – This sounds so interesting. I’m signing up and sharing this on one of my blogs too! 🙂


    • Judy Lee Dunn October 24, 2013 at 8:25 am #

      Yay! I have at least one NaNoWriMo buddy now. I’ll see you over there starting on November 1!


  5. Vidya Sury October 24, 2013 at 6:51 am #

    Hey Judy, and hello fellow-rebel! I wrote non-fiction too the first time I participated in 2011 and was totally comfortable with that. Last year I goofed by missing the validation date. This year I am going to continue something I am in the process of writing. Most of all it is the tremendous feeling of excitement, knowing that there’s a massive community out there, writing together!

    Let’s rock it. And I think the main thing to do is….WRITE. 🙂



    • Judy Lee Dunn October 24, 2013 at 8:28 am #


      Thanks for sharing your experience here. Now if we can just get our friend Kaarina to join us. It IS exciting, just knowing that more than 100,000 writers are right there with us. They sat it takes a month to develop a new habit, so this event is perfect.


  6. Nathasha October 27, 2013 at 8:08 pm #

    I think I’m a rebel and didn’t know it. I’ve done NANO and BloWriMo. I like the challenge. I can’t believe you are going to NMX. That’s where I met your hubby last year. 🙂 WOW! I am not going this year because the hotel really ticked me off. Not wheelchair friendly. But NMX told me that they will be using another location for 2015. I hope that’s wheelchair friendly.
    Enjoy! I loved it.
    I still haven’t written my memoir because I know my family will get upset. I did write it in college but as I think I’ve said before in a previous post of yours, the professor said that my characters were crazy and unbelievable. *It was my family.* 🙁


  7. Judy Lee Dunn October 28, 2013 at 8:58 am #


    We are rebels and proud of it, right? I think I remember hearing about your troubles last year at NMX. So sorry that you had to experience that. Actually, I have gone to NMX/BlogWorld a couple of times before. Once when it was in NYC, I spent most of my time with our daughter, who was attending Smith College at the time and took a train from Massachusetts to the city. The other time (a few years ago, I went to the one in Las Vegas and did attend quite a few of the sessions that year. I planned to go last year, but our elderly cat was very sick and I just didn’t want to leave him.

    I hope you saved that manuscript you wrote in college. It would be fascinating to pull it out and dust it off sometime down the road. I’ll just bet that you have more clarity now and can look at it more objectively. “Crazy” characters are the best, take it from me. I have a few in my memoir. : )


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