It's November. . . Do You Know Where Your Story Is?

Sarah Cotchaleovitch By Sarah Cotchaleovitch, 2nd Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Tips

Last year, I heard a lot about NaNoWriMo and thought that people were nuts for participating. This year, however, I am changing my tune.

Excuses, Excuses

I've lived through a little bit of a fiction drought lately. For months, the only new thing I've written is a bit of flash fiction for a writing contest. I queried agents until I was sick of it and did a lot of editing. Plus, I've been busy running the freelance circuit. So when I saw that it was time for another blog, and it was also November first, it seemed like the perfect time to write a list of excuses for why I can't participate in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and solicit tips from anyone daring enough to try.

It made me feel like a coward, the idea of acknowledging that I was going to sit around while other people worked really hard to do the seemingly impossible. But November is a busy month. My elder son's birthday is during the first week, and since my younger son has his birthday in December, I'll throw a party for both of them halfway between. Plus, there's Thanksgiving, Christmas shopping, and life in general. When both of the kids are in school in a couple years – that's when I'll finally be able to do it. Except that there's no guarantee that things will be any less busy then.

Aside from my schedule, there's also the problem of starting and finishing a novel in one month. Well, I mean, the idea can come before November first, by no writing. The problem for me is that when an idea strikes, I have to get it down pronto, or it's gone. So if I had the best opening scene ever, but it came to me in August, would I be able to memorize it and wait until November to actually produce it? Or would I go ahead and write and hope that another story idea might strike closer to the starting date?

A Little Inspiration Helps

As it happens, sometimes inspiration does strike right when I need it. Remember the flash fiction I mentioned at the beginning? Well, I saw a contest for flash fiction a few weeks ago, and although it seemed impossible for me to write an entire story in 750 words or less, I decided it was worth a try. Aside from the challenge of cramming my usually novel-length stories into such a small space, where would the story come from? And just like that, a story popped into my head. I wrote it, edited it a few times, and submitted it the next day.

So as all these doubts about NaNoWriMo flitted through my head – as I remembered how fun it is to sink my teeth into a new story – as I stood in front of the bathroom mirror and considered rubbing coconut oil on my vitiligo-afflicted arms – I remembered something. I remembered seeing a teenager whose vitiligo was much worse than mine, and I wondered how my self-confidence would have suffered if my arms had been covered with white splotches when I was a teen. Hmm. Well, it happens that I love writing young adult fiction, and with NaNoWriMo only a few days away, I had the perfect opportunity to explore a character with just such a problem.

From Inspiration to Novel

Can books be born from a single character? Absolutely, they can. The first novel that I ever finished started just that way, although it took me eight months to write the first draft, not one.

Oh well. I decided to take the plunge, anyway. My husband thinks I'm nuts. He probably assumes I will suffer from severe lack of sleep and shortness of temper this month, but I'm sticking to my work-at-home covenant. I doubt I'll reach the 50,000-word mark by the thirtieth, but I'll never know unless I try, right? I'm just excited to have a new story to write, and it's something I plan to continue enjoying through the next year.

So will you take the plunge with me? Yeah, the water's freezing, but I've heard it's not so bad once you've swum around for a while.


Fiction, Flash Fiction, Nanowrimo, National Novel Writing Month, Writing

Meet the author

author avatar Sarah Cotchaleovitch
Sarah Cotchaleovitch is a freelance writer and editor. She posts a weekly blog at She was a founding member of and is on the editorial staff of Fiction Fix (

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
2nd Nov 2013 (#)

I would enjoy this if I did not have so many other things (including work) to get in my way.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Nov 2013 (#)

Great minds. I just wrote a NaNo article, too. Good luck!

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author avatar Sarah Cotchaleovitch
2nd Nov 2013 (#)

Thanks, same to you!

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
5th Nov 2013 (#)

Nice post!

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