Day 2 of National Novel Writing Month 2023

person using macbook pro
The touch typist I never was…Photo by fauxels on

And I’ve written nothing because, as previously discussed, I am not participating.

But how do I feel, now that it’s underway, and I’m not taking part?

Pretty ambivalent, really. I’ve done enough of them to know the giddy highs of meeting the daily word count, but also the lows of falling short, or ending up with 30 days of work that would take probably three times as many to fix.

But still, good luck to all who are participating. You can write good novels during NaNoWriMo, I’m just not sure if I ever did.

My final decision for National Novel Writing Month 2023

I will not be participating. I (and you) will have to imagine the terrible novel I probably would have half-finished.

Instead, I asked ChatGPT to describe a scenario where my imaginary NaNoWriMo novel lead to great success. Here is what it said:

In a whirlwind of creativity and determination, I penned a captivating tale during this year’s National Novel Writing Month that took readers on an unforgettable journey. The story was woven with intricate plotlines, compelling characters, and a touch of magic that resonated with readers on a profound level. With every page turned, readers found themselves immersed in a world that felt both familiar and fantastical, a place where dreams and reality collided in the most enchanting way. The novel struck a chord with people from all walks of life, drawing them in with its rich imagery and emotional depth. Word of mouth spread like wildfire, and soon the book became a topic of discussion in literary circles and book clubs. Social media buzzed with excitement, and the novel’s fan base grew exponentially. Rave reviews poured in, praising the story’s originality, eloquence, and ability to touch the hearts of readers. Publishers vied for the opportunity to bring this literary masterpiece to a wider audience. Ultimately, the novel became a major success, topping bestseller lists and garnering awards, turning its humble origins in National Novel Writing Month into a literary sensation that captured the hearts of readers worldwide.

ChatGPT on what could have been

This is nothing short of amazing – Me

To do or not to do

person marking check on opened book
Check ALL THE OPTIONS. Photo by Pixabay on

It’s that time of year when people are doing things because, for some reason, organizations have chosen to stuff these events into the last few months of the year.

Should I participate these things? Let’s have a look-see:


I don’t really do Halloween, other than maybe enjoying some of the decorations people put up in their yards around the neighbourhood. That’s enough for me. That, and watching the Peanuts Halloween special. Also, Halloween is technically just one day, even if candy shows up on store shelves three months before October 31st, so it’s pretty easy to just say I’m not taking part. Maybe some alternate universe version of me dresses up as a vampire and goes out to costume parties to all hours of the night. I’m happy for that version of me, with his suave goatee and all, but it’s just not this universe’s version of me.


I used Inktober a few years back to help rekindle my interest in drawing. It worked! I have not drawn much over the summer, for various reasons and thought about doing Inktober again (using my own rules, of course, because I’m a rebel). But today is October 10 and that means 10 of 31 prompts have already come and gone. Yes, I could just wave them off and start with #11 tomorrow, but it would bug me that I was missing a bunch, and I’d try to catch up, and maybe it wouldn’t go well? I don’t know. I think I’ll mull this for one more night before deciding.

National Novel Writing Month

This is coming up in November, as it always does.

I was thinking about whom the ideal participant in NaNoWriMo is and this is what I came up with:

  1. New writers looking to establish a writing habit. To win, you need to write 50,000 words over 30 days, or about 1,667 word per day. It’s demanding and forces you to make time to write, and 30 days is enough time to build a habit.
  2. More seasoned writers who have lost their mojo. For basically the same reason as new writers, a seasoned writer might find that NaNoWriMo gets the wheels turning again, allowing them to return to stalled projects or start fresh on something new and shiny.
  3. Masochists who don’t mind spending 30 days writing what will likely be a garbage novel that will require a lot more than 30 days to fix.

I used to be #1, could make an argument for being an unpublished version of #21Techincally I got published in a Moose Lodge newsletter when I was 12 years old, and mostly feel like I was secretly #3 all along. I’m not sure if I want to invest the time writing to end up with something that isn’t very good. Writing under the pressure of NaNoWriMo certainly gets you lots of words, but I feel trying to complete a novel in that 30 days leads to a lot of shortcuts, sloppy writing and what you’re really doing is trading the satisfaction of completing a specific goal–a 50,000 word novel in 30 days–for the long slog of fixing that same novel and turning it into something readable, effort that may have been better spent just working on a novel without the pressure cooker 30-day deadline.

I mean, if you feel you need the deadline just to get something happening (#1 or #2), I think it’s valid, but you need to be prepared for a lot more work afterwards to turn that dashed-off novel into something good. Because why would you write a novel, otherwise?

Based on the above, I think the odds of me taking part in National Novel Writing Month 2023 are pretty darned slim.

In conclusion

I’ll probably just stick to my own list of tasks, which is chock-full of stuff that I shouldn’t let myself be distracted from, anyway.

The trouble with reading

Tonight, I thought I’d take a gander at my unfinished NaNoWriMo novel The Mean Mind, just read the first few chapters or something.

This isn’t a humblebrag, but upon re-reading the story, it actually pulled me in. There’s no huge backstory, no build-up, no endless “world building.” It quickly establishes weird stuff is happening and starts piling on the mysteries, totally encouraging the reader (me) to keep turning the virtual pages to see what happens next (spoiler: I already know).

The reasons this is trouble is because I’m now excited about the story again and it makes me want to resume working on it. But it’s unfinished for a reason, and I know if I keep reading I will reacquaint myself with that reason. And then I’ll feel sad.

But I’m going to keep reading, anyway. Maybe after having not laid eyes on the story for so long, I’ll think of some new way forward. The notes section on it literally ends mid-word, like I was suddenly distracted by a shiny object and never came back to it.

I’ll update this post once I’m done the read-through.

NaNoWriMo 2022 sponsors: Pay now, pay later, pay forever

While looking over the list of sponsor offers for this year’s National Novel Writing Month, I noticed a similarity among them: Subscriptions are dominant. Pay up, writer! And keep paying, forever! [evil laughter here]

Here’s a look at the sponsors that are offering novel-writing editors (ie. a text editor, but tailored for writing fiction):

World AnvilSubscription or Lifetime purchase ($650 U.S.)
First Draft ProSubscription
Campfire WriteSubscription or Lifetime purchase (by module)
StoryistOne time purchase
ScrivenerOne time purchase

Monthly pricing starts at $4 at the low end and the high end varies quite a bit, but seems to be mostly in the $15-20 range. Interestingly, Novlr (apparently not a sponsor this year) sent out an email today noting that its pricing is changing, going from $10 a month to $18. Yikes. But you can now also write one full novel for free, so if you think you only have one book in you, you’re set! Otherwise, that’s a serious case of inflation.

Conversely, I got an email recently from Ulysses announcing a drop in price, from $49 per year to $39. They claim research showed it was their “sweet spot.” What does it mean that one company is jacking up their prices while another drops theirs? It may mean the same thing–both are underperforming and they’ve each taken different approaches to shoring up revenue. I don’t know how successful Novlr will be (I think even $10 a month is too much), but their new pricing puts them more in line with most of the subscription software out there (again, Ulysses and a few others being exceptions).

Now, I have previously established that I’m no fan of software as a service (SaaS), so I’m not going to rant about it yet again, just note that it’s a little depressing to see so many developers turn to it. Subscription fatigue is real, not to mention there are plenty of good one-time purchase options that will work just fine. Two of them are in the above list! Also, you don’t need to go full Harlan Ellison and write out your novel longhand on a legal pad, but Macs come with Pages, Windows comes with WordPad and both will allow you to write an entire novel. Want to go minimalist? Try TextEdit and Notepad instead. Notepad even has dark mode now!

The main thing is while these tools may offer nice-looking interfaces and handy tools, Steven Erikson didn’t use any of them, and he’s written like two tonnes of novels, at least. Stephen King has written probably a billion pages, only half of them being the uncut version of The Stand. Don’t pay these people a monthly fee, just write. Write write write. Spend the money on important things, like muffins and a really nice mouse pad.

Contemplating National Novel Writing Month 2022

Since 2009 I have participated in most NaNoWriMo outings, with a success rate of something less than 50 percent. It has been enjoyable at times, maddening at others, and has proven to me that one cannot wait for inspiration to arrive (not that I ever really believed that).

My last effort produced very little of note (and while I did enjoy my re-read of what I wrote on The Journal, I moved almost all of my creative energy back to drawing, rather than writing, so it remains unfinished, neglected but not unloved).

So here’s a list of pros and cons on participating this year:


  • Could be zany fun
  • If I finish, I have an entire novel I can brag about to people, maybe even real people
  • It would get the creative juices flowing like a mighty river after a huge storm
  • My typing might improve slightly


  • Would occupy a big chunk of time that could be used for other things that might yield more results, like:
    • Brushing my teeth
    • Reading other, already completed novels
    • Walking around
  • Maddening lack of progress would be maddening and also make me a little sad
  • Writing a novel in 30 days would probably produce a lousy novel
  • Seriously, I have no idea what I’d write. The pressure would cause an ulcer, or anxiety, or maybe some kind of rash

The outlook doesn’t look good, but you never know. We’ll find out for sure in just 31 days!

NaNoWriMo 2021 update #2 (I think, or is it #3?)

Well, it never happened.

About ten days ago I went back to the idea of picking up on an unfinished NaNo project and re-read the 22,000 or so words of The Journal. And I liked it! Enough that I chose to pick it up, knowing I was unlikely to hit the 50,000 word goal, even with that head start.

But then the writing part never happened. I muddled about, then worked on other stuff. And so here we are with only three days left (including today) and unless I can manage 9,333 words per day, I will fall short. Alas.

But I think I will revisit The Journal, anyway, just on my own schedule, whatever that may be.

Technically, I didn’t actually “lose” NaNo 2021 because I never officially declared a project, but still, I feel bad. Fortunately, I have no cookies to console myself with, because I’d convince myself I need a lot of consoling, a lot of delicious chocolate chip-flavored consoling.

National Novel Writing Month 2021 Update #2: In which a tumbleweed is spotted

A visual representation of my effort so far this month:

Sass by Laramie Briscoe — Reviews, Discussion, Bookclubs ...

I’d like to say I’ve been busy with other things, and that is true, to a degree. I’ve also been horribly distracted by stuff outside my control. I’m willing to still give this a go two weeks late, so come Monday I’ll provide Update #3, which will tell the tale of whether I actually wrote something. It could happen!

To NaNoWriMo or not NaNoWriMo (2021)

About a month ago I wondered if I would do Inktober this year and voilà! I did a drawing on the first day.

I then did no further drawings, going 1/31.

I skipped National Novel Writing Month last year and didn’t regret the decision. My circumstances are different this year, and I’ve been mulling over whether to take part.

I’m still not sure, with mere hours before it officially begins.

What I do know is that if I do take part, it will be as a full-on pantser, perhaps even a full-on pants-on-head.

I have made a few decisions if I do participate:

  • I won’t continue a previous story
  • I won’t rework a previous story
  • In other words, this will be something 100% new
  • Probably something spooky or weird

But really, there’s a good chance I won’t actually do it. I like the idea of plunging in completely unprepared, though. It adds a certain zest.

Tomorrow I’ll update (for real) with either my announced project, an excuse for why it isn’t quite announced yet, or an admission that it ain’t gonna happen.

National Novel Writing Month 2020 update

Update: Many people are still writing, while many others have met their 50,000 word goals or exceeded them.

I have continued to not write a novel and actually feel pretty good about it. In the past I’d argue that making the effort and stumbling was still worthwhile but…been there, done that. I’d rather write something to my own schedule now. I think I can do that now and NaNoWriMo is more a barrier than an aid at this point, because it forces you to write a story in a specific time frame, which is arbitrary and a little weird. It’s great if you’re just starting out, or desperately need some kind of external discipline to get you started.

But I no longer need those things, so maybe I won’t participate next year, or ever again.

Now I just need to prove how smart this decision is by, you know, writing and maybe even finishing a novel. It could happen!