NaNoWriMo Celebration Blog Tea Party

I can’t believe it’s over!

The challenge to challenge all writing challenges. This year almost 170,000 writers undertook the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel of 50,000 words in just one month. This entailed churning out a minimum of 1667 words every single day with no exceptions. But why? What communal madness infected all those of us who skirted around the idea, then nudged towards it, then checked out the NaNoWriMo website alone and under cover of darkness and then finally, trepidously and in disguisedly signed up?

Whatever the reasons, and hopefully we’ll soon find out (see below) today is a day for Celebration!

You deserve a nice cup of tea after all that!

You deserve a nice cup of tea after all that!

For those who have finished and for those who finish during the course of today and want to drop in to let us know.  Bring a cup of tea, coffee, scones, cakes and join in for a day of chat and camaraderie. Those who joined and triumphed but didn’t officially ‘win’ are very welcome.

Here’s what to do.

In the comments, introduce yourself and tell us your usual writing activities. Then tell us more about your NaNoWriMo experience:

1: Why you decided to try it, especially if it was your first time

2: The most important lesson(s) you learned from it

3: Your biggest challenge, worst moment

3: What you wrote about and what you think of it now (honesty please!)

For Sally Clements who started all this

Then please include a link to your blog if you have one, so that we can visit  and get to know more about the writers behind NaNoWriMo! It would be great if everyone could visit at least one other blog and perhaps leave a comment, especially now that you have time on your hands! Let’s get the party started!




More on my NaNoWriMo


  1. Welcome, come on in!

    To get the ball rolling, I’ll tell you about my own NaNoWriMo experience. This is my 1st NaNoWriMo year.I heard about it first through some mentions on the web and began to wonder if it was a good idea. On a night out where I met some previously only cybersphere friends, Sally Clements shared her experience and began to convince me.

    Recently I have been writing short stories but had been jotting down funny ideas for what became a comic sci-fi/fantasty romp with a literally disintegrating housewife (Housewife with a Half-Life) and her sidekick Fairly Dave. They travel through space,time,reality and freezers and meet talking whisks and a slimy salesmen sporting a catacylsmic convertor. The idea in itself became a motivator because it was something I could have fun with and not be too hung up about. So I signed up.

    The main thing I learned: How to write faster without fear

    Worst moment/challenge: Realising on the third weekend how far behind I was and nearly dying catching up.

    I’ve told you already what I wrote about and I’m actually delighted with it. Lots of madcap ideas came fast and furious and the guts of the book is there. And I laugh when I reread bits – so that’s got to be good!

  2. 1: I decided to try it in order to get some definitely needed fire in my life. To enjoy for 1 month to go crazy about something.

    2: Despite popular opinion caffeine is a poor replacement for sleep. 🙂 Honestly: That I can write certain things which scared me.

    3: Worst mooment: assignment due like NOW and having to leave my beautiful story behind for 3 days. Or certain plotwalls.

    4: I wrote about harmful perception which changes the language of people and about the changed trying to get by in a world which they suddenly could no longer understand.
    What I think about it… good question, next question: I think it is more or less coherent despite me writing in English (which is not my native language). It did help me to get certain emotions of alienation out of my system.

  3. I’m Rejistania, no i before the j. (Or Anfaenger on the NaNo-fora)

    Thanks for the input. My work in progress is on a public github. as soon as it is finished, I will tell people about it.

  4. Hi Alison: Great idea for your blog today!

    Nano for me was absolutely brillant, but not for the same reasons.
    1. Had never heard of NaNo before this year, so very much my 1st time. I was all gung-ho to get my 2nd WIP off the 10,000 word mark.

    2. Most important lessons: Never underestimate the power of group momentum!! AND When a goal seems to be fighting you, or morphing on you — Let It!

    3. Worst moment: a dear friend died about a week before NaNo. I realized I wanted to be involved in lots of things for her husband and daughter, including a Memorial service, and accumulating memories of her from lots of different groups of people to put into a new blog in her honor– my best hopes for NaNo took a back seat.

    4. Best Moment: Instead of feeling like a failure, I went with the combined momentum of wanting to know more about people, and NaNo writing, so I set an unorthodox goal for myself: to accumulate 25 Guest Stars to interview, on a weekly basis, on MY Blog-com,(part blog, part sitcom) Thanks to the whole concept of having a goal for the month, I more than succeeded! I’m booked into April and will even start posting bi-weekly in the new year — hopefully I can keep up the pace.

    I realize all the more, after losing someone, how much I adore knowing all the odd twists and turns in someone’s life. I wish I’d done one for my friend, based on the fascinating things I found out after her death.

    I also found that humorous writing is my “voice”, setting these “interviews” into a sitcom scenario.

    I am very disappointed in not having set down the 1667 words each day with the rest of you, but I knew I could do that. I’m glad to have set up the building blocks of hopefully a fantastic way to honour people, through my blog. I’m grateful to NaNoWriMo and all you guys who participated.

    1. Hi Kristi,

      Some great observances there! So sorry to hear about your friend. What you say about honouring people and documenting their lives is a worthwhile aim. We often write for legacy, for our own, not so much for fame but to leave something of how we see the world out there, but to include the stories of others is wonderful. I so agree with the power of group momentum and the making of goals, optimistics pledges to reach for our potential. For those who have not done so, Kristi’s blog is well worth a look. Best of luck with it all Kristi and looking forward to the bi-weeklies.

  5. 1. I took on the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time in 2004, because I knew it would force me to write every single day. I had a great story idea that needed to be written, but I knew that I lacked the discipline to just do it without a deadline. Besides, it sounded like a really fun challenge and all my friends were doing it, too. Then the inner critic crept into the project with a bright red pen and that was the end of that. I made it to 5,000 words and gave up. Every year afterward, I took on the challenge with a new story and failed miserably. I was absolutely determined to hit 50,000 words this year, no matter what. So, I bound and gagged the critic, locked her in a trunk, and set to work. 30 days and 50,045 words later, I emerged victorious.

    2. I learned numerous lessons from NaNoWriMo 2009. First, there is such a thing as too much caffeine. Second, my hands cramp up until it becomes painful to type if I word sprint for more than 20 minutes at a time. Seriously! Thirdly, I’m no good at doing anything on a daily basis, so I divided the project into 5,000 to 6,000 word chunks every few days. The most important lesson I learned was that production writing works best when the inner critic is bound, gagged, and locked in a trunk. I could still hear her banging and screaming what could only be interpreted as muffled obscenities, but I learned how to tune her out.

    3. The biggest challenge was shooting down every other inner critic that tried to replace the one locked in a trunk. I didn’t realize before this month that a person could have more than one! It turns out that I have dozens! By midway through week one, they were tsk tsking, expounding on everything that was wrong with the plot or lack thereof, and trying to convince me that NaNoWriMo 2009 ranked high among the stupidest activities I’ve ever undertaken. I showed no mercy. I pulled out my revolver and BAM BAM BAM knocked them off one by one. It was like being in a carnival shooting gallery. As soon as one was down another popped up. BAM BAM! My aim wasn’t always keen, and a few of them got to me. Heading into week two, I was ready to kill off every character with the traveling shovel of doom and call it quits forever. The one thing that stopped me: my roommates had erected a giant thermometer in the kitchen to mark my work counts. If I stopped, I was going to suffer devastating humiliation. So, I brought out the AK-47 and carried onward.

    4. I wrote a high-fantasy-meets-1920s-jazz-culture story about a teenage girl in a small town known for its luxurious gardens, stubborn belief in faeries, mysterious past, and disdain of anything modern. Not only did she have the audacity to play jazz on her magical clarinet among the rare flowers, but she dated a handsome stranger that terrified her mother. I have no idea how I came up with the concept. It just spontaneously appeared on the page as I was typing. Honestly, I think the story has a teensy bit of potential (after a year or two of extensive revamping and editing), but the 50,045 word manuscript I churned out over the last 30 days can hardly be called a novel. I think “word vomit” is a more accurate label. I’m glad I met the challenge, but now I look forward to the greater challenge of turning into something I might let someone else read.

    1. Hi Shawna,

      Definitely the most important NaNoWriMo lesson: Kill the inner critic. I had a seperate document where I just jotted down the gremlins (negative feelings etc) and then I left them there and went back to the novel. Write anyway! Best of luck with your novel revising, the details you’ve given already capture my imagination, straight from the subconscious soup of writing on the fly! Well done.

  6. Hi Alison,

    Thank you for hosting this wonderful get together. I was so intrigued by the whole NaNoWriMo experience. I loved how all my twitter friends supported each other. That was awesome!

    1.I decided to try it just to see if I could do it. It seemed a fun idea and how hard could it be, right? RIGHT? 🙂

    2.The most important lesson I have learned is that writing takes discipline.

    3.My biggest challenge had to be when a family emergency arose, and for five days, I had no time to write. When it was over, I did not think I would be able to catch up and I was ready to give up. I’m so glad I didn’t!

    4.My novel is about a woman who is trying to keep her fight with cancer a secret from her family. She struggles with not wanting to burden her children and grandchildren and how she will tell them when she must.
    I love my story, however it is a very ‘dirty’ first draft and is going to take many hours of revision.

    Well, thank you for having me, Alison. I appreciate the invitation and it was a lovely time.

    Warm Regards,

    1. Hi Cynthia,

      Thanks for your lovely comments and for sharing your experience, its great to have you.

      Check out Cynthia’s own Nanowrimo post on her blog.

      Must dash temporarily for school pickups but look forward to hearing more of your stories soon!


  7. Hi Alison! I’m here and tucking into the thoughtfully provided plateful of buns! yum…Got delayed due to visit from dear abandoned friend, who has been put off for the past couple of weeks while I was pounding the keyboard.
    As you know, this was year 8 for me, so I’m totally addicted. This year was hard, I had a cracker of an idea, a great title (posthumous) and that was it, really. I wrote a thriller set in Ireland with both the law (senior and junior counsel) and the gardai featuring. This made me realise how little I know about the ins and outs of these 2 professions, so I muddled through, interrogating inkwellHQ’s husband occasionally, and leaning on a barrister or two for details. Also picked brains of abigail (via twitter). What I came out with was a solid story, beginning, middle and end, with a surprise (I hope) ending, and some good twists to keep it rocketing along.
    In previous years I’ve been delighted. This year, I realise that all my characters need major fleshing out, and that I need to check all my research and do loads more before this story is remotely near being polished.
    That having been said, I now HAVE A STORY, something to work on (starting about Feb I reckon) and transform into a cracker. The writing is inelegant, the points hammered in rather than hinted at, but all that is fixable.
    Once again I’m grateful for it. Nano is great for those moments when the story takes over, taking the writer in a new direction, and revealing itself. I had plenty of those moments, and for me, that’s what writing is all about. Fun. Sometimes in the day to day hard work of writing we all deserve to enjoy ourselves, and November is that for me. Knackered now though!

  8. What a nice idea Alison! {*I brought some leftover Thanksgiving Blend coffee from Starbucks (my other job) and the remnants of muffins from our weekend guests :)} Your story sounds hilarious! Hello fellow Wrimos! You are all awesome writers!
    This was my 2nd NaNo and my 2nd win. Now I have two half-novels written. 😛
    Last year I blogged the experience on my blog “writer’s flow” every day in synch w/ NaBloPoMo but this year I also had said job and I have completely neglected my blog for over two months. As I often refer to in the blog, i have lots of problems with confidence and procrastination, plus balancing family, home, work etc. I was determined to do NaNo again though, mostly because I have been wanting to get this story out of my head for a long time now.
    It is a YA novel, and the story has grown immensely in the last month. The basic story is of an 18 yo woman (Rayne) who loses her mother to cancer, then finds out that her mother had a lot of secrets, including the truth about Rayne’s own birth. She goes across country and back again learning abuot her life, and eventually ends up in NYC looking for her father, on 9-11-2001. But it has developed some other subplots and characters and she is currently still on the East Coast. So I need to work on that 🙂
    NaNo is such a wonderful blend of social networking, inspiration, deadline and creative learning. I feel more encouraged than ever to write a book. I have been writing most of my life, but not daily, and more often articles that pay bills and poetry that no one else reads. Long fiction is my challenge. I learned I can write regularly, if not daily. I had a few days where I wrote 1000s of words to catch up, and I am learning to tame my Inner Editor, who has been holding me back!
    I think the worst part was when we were flooded in w/ the Nor’Easter and I could not write for a couple days. But we were lucky and I was even more determined to finish!
    Now i am determined to finish a first draft and get back to blogging. I had fun on Twitter too w/ the #NaNoWriMo folks, but I miss blogging regularly. So come on over and give me a kick 🙂
    Write on y’all!

  9. 1. hi … i’m elizabeth …. and made 50k before lunch on sunday … hooray …. i still kind of can’t believe i did it … or you did it … or anyone did it … the last week or so of october i heard about nano …. went to the website without a titch of thought to do it myself … and ended up signing up .. sure, i ‘ll write a novel …. i always have wanted to write a book … i love to write …. seemed like a good thing to try in a goal oriented way ….

    2. perseverance … the tortoise and the hare … just keep going … i learned lots of lessons but probably the most eye opening: yikes, i am SUCH a procrastinator … like it blows my mind how much i can do to put off something else … even when i like what i am supposed to be doing i put it off … if i just did what i was meant to be doing when i was meant to be doing it, i could have written four times as much … but, i choose to not to use this as an epiphany moment and shall continue life in my sidetracked manner….

    3. my biggest challenge was making myself sit down and just do it …. my other challenge was that i was writing a different novel the first few days … i had pre-nano outlined a chick lit book … that i thought was strong … then i started writing it and my daugheter (12 yo) wanted to read it … the only bits i could let her read were the flashbacks to childhood that were stories of how she became who she was …. my daughter read those bits and loved them … laugh out loud loved them …. and it made me think about why i was writing … i’ve never written before … so i don’t really think that i’m going to be published … but if i could write for her, she’d read it, and enjoy it, and give me an extra bit of incentive to write … so i changed to young adult fiction … and wrote from a 12 year olds perspective … for my 12 year old … she’d read what i wrote most days and was absolutely encouraging and lovely to me …. i think i will actually edit and try and submit it to someone somehow to see if it is worth pursuing …. so … even if i’m a bad writer, i’ve been made quite confident … not sure if false confidence is good or bad!

    4. the premise of my book is that this 8th grade student in an honors program has been assigned 50k for the first semester of the school year … she’s got a quirky family and writes about them … i have a quirky family and some of the bits are truly fiction…. but some are based on my childhood and some are based on my parenting …. my daughter loved it so much because she knew the real bits …. or, she could give me suggestions for story lines ..

    alison, congratualtions on your 50k! happy nano grand finale ….. e

    1. Hi Elizabeth, Janet and Sally,

      I am really loving all the personal stories of your NaNoWriMo journeys and what came out of it. This endeavour seems to have taught us all something about tenacity and pursuing what you want to do. I know that the more obstacles came in my way the more I became convinced that I wanted to write. Janet, your musings on confidence and procrastination on your blog are so relevant and I really look forward to visiting there more often now that the frenzy is over. Sally, I remember how you said that your family were in this as well in that they knew to expect less freshly cooked meals etc. I certainly think that we and they have had to make sacrifices this November and that NaNoWriMo is an interesting exercise in knowing how much can be achieved but where we have to give back to those around us as well. Elizabeth, I love how your story developed through your daughter’s interest. Motivation comes from the heart and in your case that is particularly evident. Well done everyone and thanks for sharing!

  10. Alison, what a lovely party! Thanks for inviting me, although I must say that the trip across “the pond” was a little tedious!

    1. Why did I join NaNo? Hmmm…probably because I’m a copy-cat. I had a friend who participated in 2006, so in 2007, I joined. This year was my third NaNo, and my third win.

    2. I’ve learned to silence my self-doubt, regardless of the shape it takes. I’ve also learned to love creative spontaneity involved.

    3. My biggest challenge through all three years was believing in myself. I’ve always had ideas for stories – or rather the beginnings of them, but I never knew how they ended. And thus, I would chicken out.
    Another challenge has been stopping myself from going back and editing.
    Then there is planning – I have never been an ‘outliner’. I also didn’t want to interfere with the creative process that let my story ‘take the wheel’ and go. Unfortunately, this sometimes means sitting there with ‘the deer in the headlights’ look, wondering what comes next.
    The final challenge is balancing work and family demands.

    4. As it stands right now, my novel from 2007 is nearly complete, and my goal for the upcoming year is to find an agent.
    I still shudder when I think of looking at last year’s effort… The self doubt attacked from a different direction (“you won last year, you’re going to fall flat on your *** this year!”) and nearly defeated me in the second and third weeks. But I pulled off a come-from-behind win with a 12,000 word weekend the last week of November. Unfortunately, that means there is some pretty ugly word-padding nonsense that WILL have to go.
    This year, I actually created a short document with 11 plot points – not an outline, by any stretch of the imagination, but enough to make sure that I always had A direction to go. Also, courtesy of some friendly competition on Twitter, I pulled off some whacky, mondo-high-word-count days, and finished a week early.

    My story this year was about a group of young adults who work together for a she-witch of a boss. Three of the four of them enjoy playing pranks on the fourth. One day, they play a prank that ends up making the fourth look guilty of killing the boss – who has turned up dead. Throughout the story, they try to get their buddy off the hook, keep themselves off the suspect list, and eventually, end up solving the crime.

    I can’t help adding this little tidbit… in my first story, I had an African Grey Parrot named Ivan, who was the exaggerated reincarnation of my own beloved and then recently deceased African Grey of the same name. He was SOOOO much fun to write, and I even found myself laughing at him.

    Once again, thanks for the lovely party!

    1. Lovely to see you Diana,

      It was interesting to see how your different experiences of Nanowrimo compared to each other. Its great to hear that your 2007 novel is almost complete and I wish you the very best in finding an agent. Lets hope Ivan brings you luck from wherever he is now!

  11. I’m in awe. Too many winners surround me but my experience was valuable none-the-less.
    1. I wanted to do this last year but I was intimidated by the challenge. I did start writing more seriously from that day forth and last year I was able to complete my first novel (ok – I’m not sure if it will ever be complete, I could rework and edit forever). This year I decided the best way to move on from my first novel was to dive head first into the second. What better way than through NaNo. It was fantastic. I didn’t finish – not even half way there but I learned so much. On to #2.
    2. I learned about how I write. What I need to keep me going. I learned the value of dedicated writing time and being able to shut my office door and pound away at the keys. Funny thing though, I’ve had more productive writing months (word count wise). I really caught up in the community and helping even green writers than myself with their work. Seriously, the community I’ve cultivated from this experience was far more valuable than I anticipated.
    3. Biggest challenge (aside from the excuses I’ve outlined on my blog –slipped that plug right in but you asked for it), was that I had a great start, what I thought was a great ending and nothing in the middle. As a result, I like my beginning, found a more interesting middle and scrapped the old ending. Typical process, but not conducive for me to put 50K on the page. Boy, I’m full of excuses.
    4. Well, I think I like where it is heading and I like the start but…. I have a lot of work to do. My woman named Tiger that is surrounded by grief and loss. At age 9 she watches her mother die of cancer. Prior to her going Tiger decides to give her mother what she always wanted, to attend the wedding of her daughter. Her father performs the ceremony in their attic, joining Tiger to her imaginary friend Roddy. When Tiger’s mother dies, Roddy tells Tiger that he needs to go as well, leaving her alone with her loving, but clueless about girls, father. Roddy returns to comfort Tiger again when she is turning 16, right before her father’s death. When Roddy returns a third time, Tiger questions his motives, mere existence and role in her life.

    Or at least something like that. Potential but it is about as polished as road gravel. I’d love to have you check out my blog and comment. I put the first three chapters up there if you are interested.

    Once again, congrats to the winners!

    1. Hello Dustin,

      Just popped over to your blog and it’s a good place to be. I loved your excuse number three about filling the well, that matches up with some of my earlier blogs and certainly my feelings during the Nanowrimo frenzy when it seemed I had nothing to draw on, and no in-between time to let the ideas simmer/incubate. It was a great exercise in going so far to the edge that now I know better the value of balance, a bit of downtime that leads to me suddenly picking up a journal/envelope and jotting down something interesting. I’m really commenting on your blog here, instead of there, so I just want to say that I’ll definitely have a look at your chapters when I’m in a fit state, there is already a hook from your description. Onwards and upwards!

  12. Alison: Well done on the post NaNo blog, lovely to read your comments; Everyone above: I’m so impressed by all the thoughtful tales of your work, and the challenges you had in NaNo as well as the triumph. It seems to be a victory for everyone for one reason or another.

  13. Hello ALison and hello everyone else

    1: Why you decided to try it, especially if it was your first time…. I needed the push, and a goal. Best thing I’ve done writing wise. Spurred me on and I think I might just have a good story to edit.

    2: The most important lesson(s) you learned from it….
    That I can actually churn out some good stuff in between all the bordering-on-a-bad-episode-of-Fair-City stuff. And all the ‘just do it’ stuff is right, but I knew that.

    3: Your biggest challenge, worst moment………
    The last lap, which like everything in my life required a massive surge in energy and motivation because I had left 17000 words to do in 24 hours.

    3: What you wrote about and what you think of it now (honesty please!)..I wrote a story I’ve had an idea for since I was 18 and trapped as an aupair with a crazy family in Corsica. I turned the tables, crazy aupair, in a hand that rocks the cradle type story.

    1. Hi Sarah,
      I sense a good dollop of wish fulfillment in some of the nano stories, including mine! I can’t believe you came through on the 17000 words in one day. So amazing. Now go and have a lie down! Well done.

  14. Hi, I brought some cinnamon cupcakes with white chocolate ganace for everyone.
    1) I joined naNo because I have been thinking about writing ‘Cody’s story’ for about a year and it was time to begin.
    2)My most important elsson learned was that I can’t (as I previously thought), write when I am ill.
    3) My biggest challenge has been getting back into what was my NaNo novel since recovering from swine flu.
    $) I worte about a young man who is struggling to leave his past where it belongs.

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