But What If There’s No STORY?

Y’all, I am totally nervous for NaNoWriMo, but it might not be for the reasons many others are.

Write 50k in a month? Psh, whatever. I’m almost certain I WON’T meet that particular goal so that part doesn’t even faze me (I know, “winning” NaNo means reaching that word count, but I don’t care – I’m just in it to see how far I can get).

50k is not even a full adult novel, so that is another reason why that number doesn’t mean much to me. It’s like, half a novel. If I can get half a novel written in a month, that would be awesome. I’ll be pretty happy with a quarter of one, to be honest and realistic.

No, the part that scares me is that I will write my fingertips off all month and discover that I have no story.

I have a couple of great characters. A sister and brother. I’ve got a lot of the brother figured out as a character and I have the basics with the sister, although there’s a ton of ways to go with her that I need to narrow down. But characters aren’t enough, you know?

Sure, sure, that’s where plotting and outlining come in, and I have the basics of a plot (it’s got a lot of holes in it yet) and just a couple of days ago I did my own version of outlining which was freewriting a sloppy synopsis and that has helped.

But I’m still nervous.

It’s hard to invest a lot of energy into something only to discover it’s just not gonna work. So far, I haven’t had this problem, but with each new book I write, I get more pinpricks of this fear that it’s all going to fall apart.

I know. PUSH THROUGH. I will.

Here’s what’s helping me:

Sitting down at the keyboard and doing that freewriting that sort of leads to the best I can do at outlining at this point.

Reading crit partner Chris Adler’s post about Letting Go… letting a story go that just isn’t working for whatever reason. I figure that one month, no matter how productive, is easier to release than one year. And of course, who knows, I just might find that I’ve found the whole story after all. What a great way to find out either way.

Reading posts from Chuck Wendig where he slobbers words all over the page that are full of encouragement and entertainment.

Knowing that I’ve got some writing friends who’ve been in this same boat and are about to embark on a similar challenge (and really, it’s not like I’m any kind of pioneer here – get over yourself, J)


As I pour out precious words into this blog post (save the words for next month – what if I’m using them all up???), I discover I am closer to being ready, and not just for the one-month blitz, but this Next Thing.

Are you participating in NaNo? What worries do you have about it? How do you get past them?

Rob Thomas tells me to just “roll on”. And so I shall.

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3 Responses to But What If There’s No STORY?

  1. MJ says:

    I did NaNo a couple of times and ‘won’ once. I still have that story and I still think it could (eventually) be a pretty good one. But I felt pressured the whole month, either because I couldn’t write every day and then felt like I *had* to make up that word count on other days, or because the style of NaNo isn’t mine but I felt like I had to write that way to participate. I can’t NOT self-edit as I go. It’s just not me. So I was sure I was doing it wrong, sure that everything I wrote was crap, and regretted doing it almost immediately. I guess I’m glad I had the experience but I’ll never do it again.


    • ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) says:

      I’m a big edit-as-I-go writer, too… but I think I can push through some of that. Personally, I’m shooting for more like 25k by month’s end instead of 50, and I’m hoping that’s enough of a push. Once I get going, story, at least, does get easier. My brain starts to relax into it. Maintaining the wordcount schedule? I’m not as sure about that, but I think I can let go of that pressure if need be. I hope. Ha.


  2. Kathleen says:

    I did 23K last year and that’s the story you’re reading now. It took me until March to finish it, and I spent every day of last November in an agony of anxiety, having to force myself to write. But I’m glad I did it. I went a heck of a lot faster through the drafting phase because of it. Go you! I’m not even trying this year…just too many projects in the lineup.


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