NaNoWriMo: “Opening skirmish in one of the toughest battles you’ll face” by Jami Gray

UF/PNR author Jami Gray is here to talk about NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, which is November. Have any of you participated in NaNo? Do you plan on doing it this year? Would love to hear your thoughts in the comments! October is the month to prep, so a perfect time for this post. Welcome, Jami!


by Jami Gray

I'll be cheering for Jami and all the other participants from the sidelines! GOOD LUCK!
I’ll be cheering for Jami and all the other participants from the sidelines! GOOD LUCK!

As I set up my war room for the upcoming battle of writer versus blank page month, two hormonal males run through my modest homestead utilizing turret-type one-liners, including, “This is Sparta!”.

I find it very apropos so I’m stealing their battle cry.

National November Writing Month carries a couple of different identifiers—NaNo or NaNoWriMo—but no matter what it’s called, don’t mistake it for anything than the opening skirmish in one of the toughest battles you’ll face.

(Bear with me because I’m going to channel a few classics here…)

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. This means a minimum of 1666 words every damn day for the entire month of pre-Christmas shopping and stuffed turkey family gatherings of November. (I could set it up like a math problem, but then I’d start to cry and walk away.)

Remember, this is a challenge, something you’re going to have to suffer, I mean work at, to achieve, otherwise how will you garner the lovely glow of accomplishment at the end, instead of readying for a padded room and a white suit with buckles?

For writers who have found the secret of super-gluing their butts to the chair and their fingers to the keyboard for the other 335 days of the year, NaNo may just be another month in the year.

For the rest of us, we’re just gluttons for punishment.  Let’s look at my track record at NaNo…

Year one my grand total was 18,480, which you won’t see on my profile because well, I messed up my author profile and it got deleted. (It was an accident, I swear!).

Last year I hit the 50K goal and most of those words are still part SHADOW’S MOON (releasing in 2014), but trust me, the original composition is very different than the final product.

Will I be doing it again? Yep. Even though on November 30, 2012 I made an oath signed in blood, sweat and tears, to never, EVER again put myself through such psychological stress. I have two boys, a dog and a husband, that should be enough for anyone to handle. Why add to it?

Because, I’m a writer. When the blank page brings it, I and the 1666 daily words beat it back, again and again, day in and day out so I can bring forth THE STORY.

As you consider taking up the pen and crafting your own battle cry, there are a few enduring words of wisdom you must consider so on November 30, 2013 your celebratory dinner doesn’t turn into the Red Wedding scene from Game of Thrones.

Do not mount your trusty steed without making sure you have your armor, weapon and sacrificial page…planning is the key to winning the war.  Make sure you know which characters will be accompanying you on this journey and why they’re here in the first place.

Once engaged in the battle, do not look back! Not that you’ll turn into a pillar of salt but if you do, I promise the big, sneaky guy on the black horse will wallop you upside your helmeted head and leave a dent.  Remember, the purpose of this particular battle is bring forth the words. Write them, don’t worry about how tense they are (there will be time to relax them later) or how they lose track of their spots. Get them down and keep going.

There will be days, hours, nay minutes where you will be besieged by warty little gnomes of doubt. Ignore them. They’re just insecure and in need of OxyClear. If they tangle you up and keep you from your pen, come at them from a different direction—use one of your other characters to set the scene or sound the warning. Switch your voice, it will confuse them because again, warty little gnomes of doubt do not deal well with change.



Then write some more.

When the battle is complete, remember, it is a small, but necessary part of the war.  If, by the end of November, you have 50,000 sparkly new minions, I salute you, but you are not yet done.  If your minions are less because you lost some to the dreaded turkey feast and Christmas shopping, fear not, you too, are not finished.

This is a battle, not the war. Take a day, maybe a week, but not more than a month, to celebrate the win of getting your pieces into play. When you come back, revisit your strategy, embellish, kill a few unnecessary characters, bring others into the spotlight…




Add to your word tally.

Set it aside.

Come back.



Now that you have won the Crown of Pages, you are ready to take on the Quest of the Writer.

I bow before you and wish you Godspeed.

May the Muse be with you!

More About Jami

Jami Gray
Jami Gray

Growing up on the Arizona-Mexico border, Jami Gray was adopted at the age of 14 and suddenly became the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater.  Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.

Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where  she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab.  Writing is what saves her sanity.

Jami is the author of SHADOW’S EDGE (“Everyone fears what hunts in the shadows—especially the monsters…”) and SHADOW’S SOUL (“Some nightmares are born of love…”). Buy links for both books in all formats can be found by clicking here.

Jami can be found online here:

In my house, NaNoWriMo is affectionately called “Project Rhino.” A few years ago, I attempted it and my husband misheard me and thought I’d be participating in Project Rhino. 😀 The name stuck. So… who’s in? I’m not, but I will be cheering for each and every one of you from the sidelines. Thank you for guest blogging today, Jami! Happy Thursday, everyone!

Published by

Jill Archer

Jill Archer is the author of the Noon Onyx series, genre-bending fantasy novels including DARK LIGHT OF DAY, FIERY EDGE OF STEEL, WHITE HEART OF JUSTICE, and POCKET FULL OF TINDER.

5 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: “Opening skirmish in one of the toughest battles you’ll face” by Jami Gray

  1. Thanks, Jill for putting me up today! For my NaNo prep, I must first slay the end of the current WIP (Wk in progress) before laying out the upcoming battle plan.
    How about you guys? Anyone way ahead of the game and ready to rock-n-roll already?

    1. My pleasure, Jami. NaNo didn’t work for me, but I still love the idea of it. Good luck with your WIP. Hope you’re able to wrap it up before the starting gun goes off November 1st! I’ll be thinking of you and all the other NaNoers. 😀

  2. Nano has helped me start different novels. I have never finished in time before but this year I’m determined to make it a winning year. But even if not Nano has helped many writers start the journey of numerous WIPS and manuscripts. Best of luck to you Jami and thanks for sharing in this post.

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