NaNoWriMo Is My Friend

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In October 2008, I was preparing for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I’d storyboarded a romantic suspense and cleared my calendar.

The Wednesday before November 1, I was hit with this visual (during a social studies lesson on Jane Long) of a woman in a fort who sees a lone rider approaching, and the man falls from his horse. The idea wouldn’t let me go. No way was I going to be able to be passionate about the plotted book when this one had its hooks in me. The thing was, I hadn’t done research, I had never written a historical. How was I going to write 1667 words a day?

The idea of dropping out of NaNo NEVER occurred.

So I researched as I went. I’d read plenty of historicals so I knew the tone. I know my Texas history pretty well, and my little brother is part of the local library’s Texana group. So I went. And I wrote 50,000 words of Sunrise during NaNoWriMo. I didn’t write the ending, but a good bulk of it.

I love NaNoWriMo. I love the competition with myself. I love the competition with friends. I love the pure abandon of putting writing first. I love writing rough drafts, so this exercise is great for me. I’ve participated for 4 years now. The first year was so much fun. I wrote a book that will never see the light of day. The guy I planned to be the hero isn’t, and the guy I planned to be the villain became the hero. The story would wake me up in the morning, and I reached my goal a week early. I loved writing that book, but it’s a mess.

The second year I tried a paranormal. Something is missing in that book. I BARELY made 50,000 words on November 30 (I think it was 50,002.) There were some interesting parts, but it was a lot harder to write, and I did something weird when I hit a wall, and..ugh.

Which is why I plotted out that romantic suspense I was going to write when Trace rode right into my head and fell off his horse. I’m so glad he did.

What’s neat is, I contracted my 2009 NaNoWriMo novel with Carina, too!

Please visit MJ on her blog or website, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

18 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Is My Friend”

  1. Liz Fichera says:

    Way to push yourself, MJ! Can’t wait to read your release. I’m a total sucker for cowboy stories.

  2. I love these stories that come to us out of the blue, literary gifts. I had an experience like that while driving through Illinois. I wasn’t even thinking about writing and an idea just dropped into my head. I had to find a spot to pull over and write the idea down before it got lost somewhere in the depths of my gray matter. :)

  3. MJ, congratulations on completing NaNoWriMo and then having Carina Press pick up the book! Great story.

  4. Eleri Stone says:

    I’ve never done NaNoWriMo but was thinking about giving it a go. Are you doing it again?

  5. I LOVE NaNoWriMo! I do it every year. Let’s be writing buddies this November, MJ! :)

  6. MJ says:

    Thanks, ladies! Yes, I plan to do NaNo again, this time a contemporary romance! I’d love to be buddies with you!

  7. Angi Morgan says:

    Love that your villian became your hero…

    I love it when patzers rule! (Since I happen to be one myself and didn’t even KNOW who the villian was until page 199 of my last book.)

    Congratulations!
    ~~Angi

  8. Eleri Stone says:

    MJ, Emma – I’m game. I was just looking at their website…”Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!”…sounds fun.

  9. I love NaNoWriMo too! In fact, I’m using it as a reward to make me finish the novella I’m currently working on. If I can just get a solid draft by 10/31, I get to spend all of November on a brand new idea I had just a couple of weeks ago and am totally excited about. So put me on your buddy lists!

  10. Susanna Ives says:

    Very inspiring! Thanks for sharing your story.

  11. MJ Fredrick says:

    Angi, LOL! (Can’t wait to read your Golden Heart winner, BTW!)

    Eleri, the T-shirt I have reads, “Camp NaNoWriMo, an idyllic writer retreat smack dab in the middle of your crazy life.” Indeed!

    Susanna F, YES! I’m using it as a reward, too! Awesome!

    Thanks, Susanna I!

  12. MJ Fredrick says:

    I wanted to let you know earlier, but couldn’t figure out how to do it from my phone, and of course today we had inservice. I’m having a contest on my Facebook Fan Page. Come visit! http://www.facebook.com/pages/MJ-Fredrick-Fan-Page/224464194236?ref=nf

  13. Leslie Garcia says:

    Love the blog, love your dedication, and looking forward to reading Sunrise.

  14. MJ Fredrick says:

    Thanks so much, Leslie!

  15. MJ, I love hearing stories where people meet the NaNo challenge — you’re inspiring :)

  16. MJ says:

    Thanks so much, Jenny!

  17. Keri Stevens says:

    MJ–My 2008 NaNo story is ALSO my Carina Press debut! How cool is that?

    I have a warm space in my heart for Texas. Great-Great-Great(?)Grandpa drilled oil that founded Texas A&M and we have these great old photos of him in his cowboy hat and leggings. His name was Theophilus. Someday he’ll end up in a book.

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