A NaNo update and calendar or whatever

what is this

Uh, somehow, I have written 10,000 words in 6 days. And I don’t know how. And I have no idea what I’m going to write next. All I know is that last November, it took me 17 days to write the same amount of words, and thus I am writing almost 3x as fast and also my brain hurts.

My “plan” for NaNoWriMo this year was to go in totally blind as per usual, but with this resolution in mind: I will not reread what I have written so far. If you’d like to know how that’s working out for me, I will tell you that am currently full of loathing for my pre-November self, that semi-sane jerkface who made rules she knew she was going to want to break. CURSE YOU, PAST SELF.

I can’t help but want to reread and edit. I really can’t. And my no-rereading rule is killing me because it’s forcing me to break a habit when I just want to be FREE, goshdarn it, FREE AS A GAZELLE IN THE AFRICAN GRASSLANDS. It actually pains me to resist the urge to scroll up just a little and hit the delete key.

Do you ever wonder if your first draft-ing habits are “normal”? For the past 6 days, I’ve been asking myself that question, because I don’t think I’ve ever written like this in my life, without spending a little bit of time at the beginning of every writing session to reread and revise the words I wrote in my last writing session. But other writers are always saying that you should allow yourself to write a sh***y first draft. Now I’m realizing that while my first drafts may still be sh***y, I don’t know if they’re actually “first” drafts. They’re more like second drafts, because I’ve already been revising as I’ve been writing.

And now you understand why it took me a year and a half to finish the first draft of Privateer.

So now, I’m sitting at a desk for a couple hours a day, asking myself, “Is this what ‘normal’ writers feel like?” What with the feverish, unedited typing, and the realization that you just constructed five passive sentences in a row but instead of fixing them you just start to tally them up like The Count from Sesame Street, like, “ONNNNE PASSIVELY CONSTRUCTED SENTENCE, ah-ah-ah, TWOOOO PASSIVELY CONSTRUCTED SENTENCES, ah-ah-ah,” and so on and so forth until the end of time?

If you ask me, it’s actually kind of liberating. I’m not saying that turning off my inner perfectionist isn’t hard, because it is (really, REALLY hard), but it’s really nice to be able to let the words pour out of your head uninterrupted by your shoulder editor.

Also, can you tell that my shoulder editor is still on vacation? I definitely shouldn’t be writing this post right now but I AM and it’s GOOD TO BE QUEEN, AH-AH-AH.

So. I have created the following schedule for the rest of the month/NaNo, to keep me on track and bring inspiration to you and me, because remember how much I like lists? Yeah so here, have a list.


  • November 7: It’s a Thursday. You know what that means. Lock yourself in your room for two hours and don’t come out until there are 1000 new words on that page. This has nothing to do with Thursday.
  • November 8: Friday is a beautiful thing, because that means the next day is Saturday and that means that you can stay up all night if you want to and you won’t hate everything the next day. So go ahead. Pull the nerdiest all-nighter ever.
  • November 9: NaNoHQ says you should be at about 15000 words right now, but let’s face it—you’re probably not. But that’s okay! Commiserate with a friend! Eat a Crunch bar! Mortally wound your protagonist’s best friend! Fun stuff.
  • November 10: Sunday is funday so give your protag a scene with his/her love interest.
  • November 11: It’s Veteran’s Day. Introduce your protag to a soldier. Use the line, “Our war has only just begun.”
  • November 12: Ryan Gosling was born on this day in 1980 so you must base a character on him due to this being a law of the universe.
  • November 13: Talk to yourself as you write a scene. Because it’s fun. Not that… I ever do it…
  • November 14: Look, you could have been almost halfway done if your novel was actually going to end at 50K words! HAHAHAHAHAHA kill a character off.
  • November 15: NaNoHQ says you’re at 25000 words. When was the last time you showered? When was the last time your protag showered? NO ONE KNOWS.
  • November 16: nationalwhateverday.com says that today is “Have a Party With Your Bear Day,” whatever that means. I’m thinking someone in your novel should definitely get mauled today.
  • November 17: It’s Sunday. Time to have a good cry. Yes, yes, let it all out. Now write a scene in which your protagonist steals his/her father’s armor, runs away from home, impersonates a soldier, deceives his/her commanding officer, dishonors the Chinese Army, destroys my palace, and saves us all.
  • November 18: It’s a Monday. Phonetically spell out a blood-curdling scream.
  • November 19: It’s my birthday so in honor of me introduce a character named Samantha who never speaks. Only watches. Always watching.
  • November 20: It’s the day after my birthday so let your protag discover that the murder was committed by Samantha in the library with a lead pipe. Also, ABC Family’s Countdown to 25 Days of Christmas starts today. But, ya know, don’t let that distract you…
  • November 21: Ten days left. Add a vampire.
  • November 22: Nine days left. Add a zombie.
  • November 23: Eight days left. The apocalypse is nigh. Destroy a city.
  • November 24: One week left. Do not despair. One week seems like a long time right now, but when December 1st hits, you’re going to look back and be so happy and wonder, “Why are there vampires and zombies in my novel?”
  • November 25: Drink twelve cups of coffee this Monday. You’re gonna need it.
  • November 26: LOL don’t even try to solve that massive plot hole that you accidentally created back on Day 10.
  • November 28: Thanksgiving. Give thanks, for you are not yet dead. Feed your protag turkey. Three more days until the end.
  • November 29: Two more. Your protagonist must discover something about him/herself. He/she is stronger, smarter, happier, good-er than he/she ever thought. THIS IS A REVELATION. REJOICE AND THROW MONEY IN THE AIR.
  • November 30: If you’re actually at 50K, you can go ahead and write the worst ending to any novel to ever exist. Make sure you capitalize/bold/underline/italicize the words “THE END”. Unless you’re me. Then you can keep writing for another 80,000 words or so before calling it a day.

Hey look this blog post was 1000 words long. Guess I did have another 1000 words in me. Too bad I blogged them out instead of fiction-ing them out. Ha-ha. Ha.

Cure Me wordcount: 40,008 words

Samantha Chaffin

16 thoughts on “A NaNo update and calendar or whatever

  1. chocomashi says:

    (This is Starflower from Figment, using a WordPress account I kinda forgot I had :3)

    Oh gosh, I envy you so much, I really do. To be able to write that fast… argh, if only I didn’t have all that goshdarn Algebra II homework maybe I could also pull a nerdy allnighter for writing purposes only. ^win^

    Anyhow, I’m super excited about Cure Me and the fact that you’re progressing so much is really bringing out my inner fangirl. *squee* Also, that post was really hilarious. I applaud you on your blogging skills and your awesomeness at NaNo.

    – Starflower out ~ 😀

    (PS: It was also about time I commented on your blog anyway. I adore it, btw.)

    • samchaffin says:

      Thank you, dear!! 😀 I’m so happy that you remembered your WordPress account, haha. And I totally relate to the homework-keeping-me-from-writing thing. I might not have Algebra II anymore, but I’ve got English Literature essays to write, which only burns me out for NaNo writing. *sigh* Truth be told, the only reason I managed to get up to 10K is due to the fact that I have had very little social life for the past week, haha. But thank you for leaving a comment on my blog, and for reading, and for fangirling over Cure Me, omg! Are you doing NaNo this year? I can’t remember if I asked before.

      • Starflower says:

        Oh, I’m doing a mini-version with my friend Annika (I believe she’s talked to you before? correct me if I’m wrong), working on a second draft of our collab “A Nation With No Name”. Right now we’re egregiously behind because I haven’t been able to finish the chapter delegated to me (alternating PoVs, heh) and that’s the first scene.

        Annika will be posting our NaNoNovel on her Figment page if we ever get around to making actual progress, I suppose.

        And you are so welcome! It was my pleasure 😉

  2. wingveins says:

    Sam… Sam…. Thank you for cracking me up this morning. Don’t ever change. The world would suffer and become hopelessly depressing. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!!!! I BELIEVE IN YOU!!!!!!!! KEEEEEEP WRIIIIITININGGGG!!!!

  3. thejaneite says:

    I just want you to know, Sam, that you are quite possibly the funniest person I know and you have just made my day so much better by this post. I think maybe some November I’ll write a novel exactly by that list and it will either shock the world with its brash epicness or make mankind recoil in confusion and some horror too. But it’s a great list. Just so you know.

    Also, as far as crappy first drafts go, I feel the same way!! Like, I can’t even be like, “Sorry this is is crap, guys, I just wrote it up and posted it.” It’s like, no, I wrote it, retouched it, and had an emotional moment because it still wasn’t great but having revised it three times I just went with it. But it’s always like, a second or third draft in the minute sense. I mean, I haven’t finished the novel when I post chapters, so I don’t have the grand scheme second-draft-erized, but whatever. I feel lame sometimes.

    Anyway. I never thought your “first drafts” were bad. At all.

    • samchaffin says:

      Haha I’m glad it made you laugh!! Laughter is important during this time of stress and finger exercise. 🙂 And YES, your first-drafting experience is almost exactly like mine (except you write WAY faster)! I rarely post anything on Figment, or anywhere else for that matter, that I haven’t revised in some manner first. However, I can assure you that you are the least lame person I know, and your first drafts are ridiculously good. Makes me very, very happy that I can look at my bookshelf and see your “second” draft of Esmeralda. 🙂

    • samchaffin says:

      It really is. I don’t really know that I’ve felt this way until THIS time around, though. My last two NaNo’s were not like this at all. I did stop about halfway through last November, though, because I finished writing Privateer on the 20th or 21st. That made me feel like a winner, even though I only wrote about 15K words. 🙂

  4. Aubrey Cann says:

    Very entertaining post!

    Also, I want to say that I don’t think it’s a BAD thing that your first drafts usually take a while and look like second drafts. If that’s what works for you during non-NaNoWriMo months, that’s fine! I tend to beat myself up over not being a “fast” writer, but when I try to go too fast, I just end up having to revise more. I think that the time it takes me balances out in the end. I’m sure you are a very “normal” writer!

    • samchaffin says:

      Mm, that’s a really good point. If a certain method works for you/me, we should write that way. I’m coming to realize that there’s really no right or wrong way to write, no process that’s really “abnormal”—despite what a creative writing professor might say. It all depends on what I’m comfortable with, or in this case, what I’m NOT comfortable with. This NaNo is getting me to think in a different way than I usually do, and I think that’s a really good thing. Exercising my writing muscles in a different way! After NaNo, I’ll probably settle back into my usual “method,” but taking a month to do things differently is kind of nice. 🙂

  5. Kim says:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE your blog posts. I’m so glad that you’re sharing your NaNo journey – I feel like anyone reading this and also participating is happily commiserating with you. I know I am (BTW, the Seinfeld picture is perfect).

    Your plans for the rest of the month are, frankly, fantastic. I love the part about you adding yourself into the manuscript in honor of your birthday and the nod to Mulan (always a good movie. Always). Ever since I had entered Figment’s serial contest way back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth (in terms of Figment), I contemplating trying to replicate the rules in order ot make myself keeping writing. We wrote for a month and each week, Figment would post a new thing that had HAD to add into our serial novel that week. For example, the very last week required us to kill off a character (and it was so much fun to dance around that and reinterpret it, haha). If I’m stuck, I plan to do that in hopefully, a realistic fashion so that the novel actually makes it to the end of the first draft. Ahhh.

    I’m sure you’ve seen that I’m WAY BEHIND on my NaNo project. That wasn’t supposed to happen. I graduated. But duty calls and cannot be ignored – I have to do something BIG AND TOP SECRET (writing-wise) before returning to my NaNo project. Once I actually do it, I’ll share the secret via our group, haha. But man, I can’t wait to get back to NaNoing. No matter how badly I fail each year, it’s still worth doing.

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