Are You Up for a November Writing Challenge?

Okay, so things over here at the “lodge” are at an interesting place.  Basically, I’m in limbo.  My non-fiction book (that I like to think of as a researchy-memoir) is out with my agent and making the rounds with publishers in New York city.  Now, I don’t like this part.  I’ve been through it 1.5 times before.  The first time – it almost sold.  I learned something there.  You know what is more painful than a rejection?  That’s right – an almost sold.  A “we really liked it, but…” A “she’s so funny, but…”  That SUCKS.  Caps-lock intended.  So, I’m not going to sit around and wait.  I’ve got something else in mind.


Let’s talk some backstory.  The transformation that I’ve made -personally- over the last year is a drastic one.  I went from a person that “produced” (…often I produced other people’s work – gave them stage time, a place to showcase their writing, etc.) to “one who creates.”  I think this is a radical change for me.  It puts the onus of creative responsibility squarely on my own shoulders.  What I produce succeeds only if I succeed.  What I produce fails, if MY idea fails.


This has been an important and ultimately satisfying switch, mainly, because I want to write and I want to write  extremely well.


There’s a caveat to writing well though that no one wants to admit.  When you want to write extremely well, you have to write a volume of ABSOLUTE SHIT first.  I think you can’t get to the “extremely well” without the absolute shit part.  Now,  a lot of you may think, but what about all of those writing prodigies?  Those people who wrote masterpieces in their 20s.  I say they had volumes of absolute shit, you just never saw it.  They just wrote it in their teen years, perhaps, but, they wrote it.  You can’t get to the good without the bad.  That’s just my belief system.  But, hey, it’s not just mine…



With all of that said, I tend to write non-fiction fairly well.  I think that is because I’ve had years, literally, almost two decades, of writing mainly about my self.  It may have been in joke form for stand up, it may have been in another style, but regardless that’s a lot of practice.  What I do NOT have a practiced hand in is at writing fiction – you know – making a story up from beginning to end.  There, I am an absolute neophyte, which is why most of the writing in that vein is absolute shit.  But, there is a passion in me to conquer it.  So, conquer it, I will.


And that brings me to the challenge at hand…


Whenever I am waiting on something that I want, the best way to get over the panic in the waiting is to – START SOMETHING BRAND NEW.


My biggest struggle is fiction.  So, why not start there.


Last year, when I wrote my fiction book, I slammed out 70k words.  Then I re-read them for the umpteenth time and threw them into the fire.  But, while I was doing all of that I thought, “I should do that NaNoWriMo thing.”


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.


It takes place over the course of November.  The stipulations are simple.


You write, everyday, passionately, and without fail.  The goal is 50,000 words in one month.


There’s even a cool badge for your blog…


You do not edit.  The idea as NaNoWriMo puts it, “is an experiment in pure output.”


That’s 1600 words (approx) per day for 31 days.


I’m going to give it a shot, BUT I’m going to go one step further.


I’m going to actually plan for it.


…or maybe we can come up with some funky little badges that are all our own.


I’m going to build out a story beforehand, much like you would draw up plans for a house before you build it.  I’m going to do that between now and November 1.  Come November 1, I’m going to write the hell out of it.


I love the community of writers on here and my thought is to document my process a bit, as I’m in the midst of it.


My other hope is that some of you will join me.  Together we can valiantly struggle through the process together.  At best case, we might have a first draft of a novel that is quite decent.  With some tweaking and editing, maybe it will actually be publishable.  At worst case, we’ll have produced another volume of shit, which will get us closer to actually writing something of value.  Remember, you have to write a lot of shite to get to the value.  I, for one, am willing to get the shite out of the way as fast as possible.


Let’s get to the particulars…


Here is the NaNoWriMo site.  I’ve signed up for a profile under SweetMother.  Check it out.  More importantly, check out the sign up page for you.  Read up on the month yourself.  If you google, “NaNoWriMo” you will find a ton of posts on others and their experience over the course of National Novel Writing Month.  In the comments section, let me know if you want to write it out with me.  Also, if you want to prep a bit beforehand, let me know.  I’ll point you in the direction of the materials I’m using to do so.


Let’s do this.  It could be fun.  At the very least, by Christmas, we’ve accomplished something pretty huge…


Much love,





Sweet Mother is updated daily-ish.  If you’d like to follow the madness, simply click the “follow” prompt at the top, right of the page.



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Photo creds:

nanwrimo, pencil


78 thoughts on “Are You Up for a November Writing Challenge?

    1. yep, if what you mean is… you’re not good instantly…well that’s the myth the world will sell you. truth is, it takes time. whatever your takeaway was, i’m glad it helped. and join us for nanowrimo if you like. much love, sm

  1. I’ve been thinking about this too. I will check out the links. I’ve been outlining a story and dumped out a steaming first chapter, and that’s where I typically get stuck and decide I suck and I’m not cut out for fiction writing. Or any writing at all. Great words of encouragement though. You have to write a lot of bad before you can ever get good.
    Good luck with your non-fiction work. I really hope it gets picked up because I think you have a great voice and great message.

    1. let’s do it, rfl! i think the key, the absolute KEY is planning. and will say that i did not plan properly enough for the first steaming pile of turd fiction piece that i churned out. i have an idea for this one and i’m going to really, REALLY plan it and share my process on here. i think if you don’t plan properly, you will burnout at a certain point. i think that’s inevitable. but, if we plan. i think it could be the beginning of something. or at the very least, a next stop in sucking less. i’m okay with either. loooool. much love and goddermn it, let’s do it. sm

  2. Yay! I will totally participate in NaNoWriMo. I am currently working on a memoir, and I need a little boost. Also, I understand about the publishers’ comments. It is similar to comments I have gotten after a really good job interview. “You were so great. We really liked you! But you were slightly not as good at the person we hired.” Ugh…so annoying.

    1. yep, the almost is almost worse! loool. a lot of the comments were, ‘this is so funny, but books on this topic don’t sell… does she have something else…’ and so now i’ve written the something else, time will tell. 🙂 and awesome, let’s compare nanowrimo notes. are you going to write about your process at all? at the very least, the month will force us all to creatively dump the idea on to the page and in the end, that will probably be a good thing… xo, sm

    1. loool. i need luck and another pair of hands. but, it will get my mind off the proposal making its rounds, so that will be a good thing. much love, ns, much love. sm

  3. Color me curious, oh so curious….

    I am willing to throw a few vowels and consonants together for this challenge. Keep us posted. Allan

    1. i think it’s right up your alley, allan. check out the site and let me know once you’ve made up your mind… i think there’s a book in you, for sure. xo, sm

  4. SweetMo I have decided to join you on your writing adventure despite the fact I should be writing music instead. Hooray for procrastination and overdoing it on the multitasking. I signed up as Eurolinguiste.

    1. yeeeeeeesssssssss! so, awesome. i’ll ‘connect’ with you somehow on nanowrimo and commiserate with you on here for sure! i’ll be posting ‘how’ i’m going to play for the month on here too… xoox, sm

      1. It was actually pretty difficult figuring out how to add you as a writing buddy, but I sent you a request. We’ll see how it goes!

  5. Okay, I am really going to be the only blogger in my circle that doesn’t do NaNoWriMo! But in my defense, I am working on edits and revisions for two novels, and those must get done. I really want to begin shopping one of those novels in the first half of next year.

    I will, however, be in your corner, cheering you on and offering you virtual chocolate/coffee/alcohol or whatever will get you through your daily writing! 🙂

    1. I don’t do NaNo either, so there are still a few of us. 🙂 But like JM, I will be cheering you on!

      On a side note, SM, I’m not able to “like” your posts anymore. Everytime I click the button, it takes me to the top of your post. I have to go out and do it through my reader, and even then I’m not sure if it “took.” So please forgive me if you don’t see my Gravatared head in your mounds of likes. 🙂

      1. I can see the “like” from you. And it’s reassuring to know I’m not the only writer who will be “on the sidelines” next month. But that doesn’t mean we won’t be writing, right?!

      2. At the rate I’m going it might… 😉

        Glad my “like” is visible. I had to go to my reader to click it. Maybe Sweet Mother is trying to tell me something…

      3. that’s so weird, rubes. i do see your likes. and i will say that wp can be glitchy. i know i couldn’t get to briges site through her name link for a long while and now magically, i can. but, i’ll leave a wp forum question about it. have you tried clearing out your ‘cookies’? sometimes that works for me.. and i don’t mean tollhouse. xoxo, sm

      4. I like cookies.

        But it’s only your site this happens on. No one else’s. But as long as I can “like” it from my reader, I’m cool with that. I imagine it will magically start working again some day. That’s what usually happens. 🙂

    2. jm, lawd, lawd, i do not know what i will need to get through it. i’m guessing all three? lol. i totally get that you’ve sort of done a nanowrimo of your own already. i, on the other hand, want to learn to ‘plan’ out my fiction better. so, i’m going to use this for that, as they say. okay, as i say. xo, sm

  6. I feel like i want to do this. This week the issued DPchallenge was to write a post that was out of your norm. For me that would be fiction. I didn’t have enough time to knock out a post, but the idea is still in my head. I even went so far as to e-mail Grippy to see what she thought of the idea. A month of writing, and it doesn’t have to be good. I feel like I’m doing that already. I’m still on the fence though. Sounds fun, and really hard. Let me think on it over the weekend.

    1. i think you should do it, jon. i find your stuff so interesting and your take on things. but, i totally hear you. it’s a commitment, albeit one with not too many consequences if it all shatters to smithereens. loool. think about it. let me know when you decide. xo, sm

  7. Moms, I don’t know if I can do this or not. I’m in over 30K on my current book and over 5K on a short story. Let me stew on this awhile! Regardless, I’ll cheer for you. And good vibes your way and your book making its way through NYC!!

    1. fingers crossed on that damn book. i really want to write it. time will tell. as for nanowrimo, i hear you. it’s a commitment, but maybe one worth doing? take your time pondering it and definitely read up on it (i found that helped me) and let me know when you decide. much love, sm

    1. i thought it would be perfect for you. but, i totally hear you. it may just be a total pain in the ass that i don’t have time for and that i will fail at. but, at least i’m thinking positively about it… looool. xo

      1. I don’t handle stress very well and I find deadlines extremely stressful. I don’t think you will fail. xo

  8. What an amazing challenge!

    As a photog with a bit of commentary on my images I’m afraid I’m more suited to the dreaded coffee table book than to a novel. I’d almost sign up if I could make the math work. If a picture’s worth a thousand words…I could do that:)

    1. omg, i think i’d prefer this as a ‘photo challenge’ – even with my awful photo taking skills for sure. loool. xo, sm

      1. OK – I have been thinking about this for days now and I have signed up – I’m totally in over my head and I haven’t started yet. I’ve been talking about it on FB and I think I may be dragging a few “authors” along with me. I will be writing with actual words – no idea how I will do that and keep up with my blog, but what the heck, the holidays are a slow time anyway:)

  9. Along the same lines (thinking about the Ira Glass quote), I ran into a colleague who was a newly licensed therapist a few years ago, and she said in a presentation that she’d like to go back and apologize to all of the clients she saw in her first 2 years doing therapy. She said the first 2 years were crap for her, but that she learned so much.
    My supervisor now says to thank the clients who give us the most grief, who make us struggle. Thank them for making us learn, for challenging us.
    I try to keep all that in perspective when thinking about the big picture.
    So thanks for the reminder.

    PS- If it was Na-nonfiction-WriMo, I’d be all over that. It’s an awesome idea that pokes at my interest and motivation.

    1. i know one thing for sure… you are a damn good therapist. you just are. i saw one for 10 years, so i know this. also, nanowrimo is NOT just for fiction. a lot of people write non-fiction. i’m just going to give MY hand a try at fiction again. but, that’s not to say you can’t try non, if you want to dip your toe in the water… i’m just sayin’. xo, sm

  10. Hey, Sweet Mother,
    If, after November 30, you are able to type “The End”, you should submit it here: They will assist you with edits and improvements. They have a fantastic community and your work WILL improve. Mine has and I’ve only been a member since July. Check out my blog for a couple of other good resources for improving your writing.
    If you have a Kindle reader (or app) and e-mail me, I’ll see if I can loan you a copy of a book about self-publishing. Good luck with your project.

    1. thank you, author. that is very helpful stuff. i will for sure check them out. and i will also be back to your blog very shortly. i tend to be an intermittent stopper by-er, but stop by i do. xo, sm

    1. awesome, meeeeeeeks! as soon as i figure out how to connect on there… i think eurolinguist, just added me, i’ll add you to. and by next week, i’ll have another post on my ‘planning stages.’ xo, sm

      1. No way. I saw the threat of cocktails in my blog comments…so happy the two of you hooked up!

        I’m off to hit Cristy up for Nanowrimo. Nothing like writing 50K words in a month to get a girl blogging again. I’ll be focusing on fiction, but will pepper it with posts. Thanks for getting me off my ass Sweet Mother!

      1. No, she’s not a blogger. I think she’s getting closer to writing her oeuvre…she doesn’t see it. I guess that’s why I’m the mom and patient! xoxoM

  11. I’ve signed up already under appletonavenue. I’ve tried NaNo years ago and never got far. This year I’ve no excuse. I’m not working, I can write every day, all day! Who knows, maybe the book will even be good. Then I will have to work on my next novel while search for an agent! One step at a time, right?

  12. Congratulations for signing up! I did NaNoWriMo last year and it was an amazing experience. What I loved the most about it was that there was no time to question how awful my writing might be. I had to churn out 1660 words a day, no matter what, and so I just had to write through my “this is crap” days. One day I couldn’t face writing the next section of the story, so instead I wrote the most graphic sex scene I was capable of. I had so much fun! It was after I finished NaNoWriMo that I started blogging, because I’d loved so much the everyday creative process. Just hearing about it makes me want to participate again…

    1. join us, join us, join us! that’s all i can say. i hear you. that’s what appeals to me to. no editing, just pure, uncensored, output… it should be interesting! tho, i swear i’m going to plan a bit before i begin. i always churn out something better when i do. xoxo, sm

  13. I’m thinking about it, SM. I just wish you’d quit pushing me off of cliffs. If I go over the NaNoWriMo cliff with you, the other cliff will have to wait a month or two (which might not be a bad thing).

  14. It’s 5:45 a.m., I’m not sure what day it is, I might still be asleep and it’s quite possible that I am dreaming this comment. Nyquil induced or not, this is a great idea Sweet Mother. As soon as it’s clear to me that I’m not going to drop dead before November from this nasty shite I picked up going through airport securty eight freaking unnecessary times, I will check out this challenge. There’s a BiG Think video about fiction writing on a post of mine -kitchen sink realities – you may find helpful. Or not..XOXO

    1. honie, a) i hope you feel better. i hate when i pick up flu-ish things from traveling. not good at all. b) JOIN US! you’d be a perfect addition…just sayin’. xoxo, sm

  15. I shall participate as your official cheerleader. This is me doing a back flip (a virtual back flip) with pompoms (I actually have those) cheering you on. 😉

    1. still planning. still game. fingers crossed that i finish or my book gets a publisher. either and more perfectly, both, would be the best. 😉

  16. “When you want to write extremely well, you have to write a volume of ABSOLUTE SHIT first.”…This is so true…Sweet Mom this is pretty much the simplest way to describe my day…i was busy writing absolute shit so one day i can write something awesome… 🙂
    i am heading to the the website…lets see what is November writing thing…

  17. I almost committed to this last year. I am going to make my best effort this year! I thinking of going with the most ridiculous made up out of touch storyline I can come up with.

    1. awesome, let me know if you’re in, lunchmeat and i’ll add you to the list of fun and nonsense partakers! that’s how i’m masking the fact that this is going to be hard… lool.

    1. i hope that donut is working it’s magic on you because i SO think you should do this. i think you would love it and i -for one- would LOVE to have you on board. xo, sm

  18. Good for you! I wish I was up for that. As it is, it’s hard enough for me to get around to doing a normal blog post once or twice a week, I can’t imagine how I’d do a novel in a month. Although I’m with you in that I write nonfiction well and easily but fiction is like pulling teeth, so it would be a good challenge for me. I can’t wait to hear about the process!

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