(Almost) Failed to Start

We are days away from November 1. You know what that means . . . it’s (almost) time for


Since 2008, I have annually participated in National Novel Writing Month. Every year I make a valiant effort and usually get a few good blog posts out of the process even though I don’t always “win” (i.e., write 50,000 words). Check out a few of my previous NaNoWriMo posts here, here, and here.

But this year I (almost) decided not to participate.

For the first time in over a decade, instead of spending October doing NaNoWriMo prep, reading the pep talks, exchanging ideas with writing buddies and anxiously awaiting November 1, I have been dreading it because I felt I had nothing to say. (This is also why I haven’t posted here in over a month.)

I don’t know why I haven’t been feeling my usual pre-NaNoWriMo excitement. Maybe because I tanked round 1 of the flash fiction writing contest. Maybe because I have job stuff occupying my mind. Maybe because I have a stack of books waiting to be read and reviewed. Or maybe it’s simply because I’ve done NaNoWriMo for ten years.

Whatever the reason, I (almost) opted not to participate this year . . . until last night.

Last night, while walking my dog, inspiration struck—the first sentence flashed in my head like lightening. I probably looked ridiculous speed walking back to my apartment repeating the sentence over and over again so I wouldn’t lose it before I got it down on paper. (Inspiration is an unpredictable thing. Like a hummingbird, it zips in and before you hardly see it, it zips right back out again. Hence, the speed walking.)

I got the sentence down on paper and itched to keep writing. But I didn’t want to write too much before November 1—it’s not easy to write 1,667 words per day and I don’t know how many words I’ll get out of it. Maybe 50,000 or maybe 500. Either way, it was more important to get the first sentence out of my head because I know when I reread the sentence, the character and story line that popped in my head will reappear. Like a magic word opening a door, this sentence opens my story.

As for what the story is about, well, I don’t know yet. I don’t know where that first sentence will take me. As a pantser (flying-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, non-planner writer), I listen to the characters and go where they want me to go. And for me, that’s the exciting part.

This year, I may not reach the goal of 50,000 words. But it won’t be because I (almost) failed to start.

Oh, and at least for November, if you see me out waking and writing, know it’s because I refuse to let inspiration zip away. I will be carrying pen and my writing journal with me EVERYWHERE I go. And I mean everywhere so whenever and wherever inspiration zaps me again, I will be prepared!

Let me know in the comments below if you’re participating in NaNoWriMo this year and how you’ve prepped this month.

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