Thoughts Post-NaNoWriMo 2013

I managed to finish NaNoWriMo by November 24th, but two weeks later my muse is still a withered husk lying crumpled in the far corner. I had an easier time of it this year compared to last, due in large part to pacing myself more and a wonderfully supportive writing group, but it was still far from easy.

Thanks to NaNo and the Lawrence writers, however, I’m slowly beginning to understand what it means to be a writer. I’ve never been the type of person who had to write. I feel like a bit of a hack to admit it, but I have none of the overflowing passion that flings me from my bed to my keyboard every day like I’ve read in so many author interviews. I wish that I did.

I love stories and I’ve always gotten great enjoyment from writing, but I also used to wait until my muse was fit to burst before I did anything and then rode the wave for however long it lasted. I could go months and even years between writing stints that way.

It wasn’t until early last year that I became serious about writing and I’ve found that, while still great fun, it’s also a lot of bloody work. NaNo just compresses that workload into 30 days. Even without the frantic pace, it takes continuous effort to push back distractions, sit down every night, and really write.

I’m writing this now, with no inspiration and dead tired after a long shift at work, as a testament to that. Thanks to NaNo and thanks to the Lawrence writers who have helped me learn what real writing takes.


  • Andrew, I know I speak on behalf of the whole writing group when I say how happy we are you’ve become “one of us.” And I agree with you completely: NaNo really does teach you what it means to be a writer. I learn that lesson again every year, it seems like. I also struggle with not having the leaping out of bed inspiration, but NaNo (and the Lawrence writers) make me write even when I don’t want to, even when I have no muse. Jack approaches writing in a way I envy: he just sits down and does it. He takes his writing practice from Ray Bradbury. If you haven’t read Zen and the Art of Writing, a collection of Bradbury’s wisdom, I highly recommend it.

    And don’t worry, your muse will recover after the holidays. Mine is curled in a ball right next to yours right now!

    • Andrew Putnam says:

      I’m glad to be in such good company. :) I’ll see if I can pick up Bradbury’s book this week. I know I’ve read it before, but it’s been so long I forgot everything.

  • Aspen says:

    Nanowrimo has taught me a lot about what it takes to build a story. However, those last two weeks, when the well is drying up and you know that quality has been sacrificed to word count, can look like a wasteland.

    • Andrew Putnam says:

      It really does. I know my muse will recharge eventually, but I wish I knew a way to build it up. I guess that just comes with experience.

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