It was a dark and stormy night… or day… remembering is as hard as consistent writing

Ooops! I bet you expected this about 12 hours ago. Sorry! Blame the tryptophan in the turkey. Or that being home all the time makes it hard to remember what day it is. The days just all melt together into one increasingly colder darker blur. That sounds ominous. It’s not — I’m talking about the seasons changing, not the coming apocalypse or whatever.

Anyway, one thing that’s made November different from the rest of the bulr is that, after years of rejecting the idea, I’m doing NaNoWriMo. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month. The idea is to write 50,000 words between Nov. 1 and 30. There’s a cool website that keeps track of words, shows a graph with progress and how many words a day you’re doing and how many you have to do to meet te goal. It even has chat groups for those who feel the need (I don’t).

While it promises those who succeed will have a novel by the end of the month, we writers all know that’s not really the case. Not that 50,000 words is chicken feed, but it’s not a novel. Which isn’t to say it’s not worthwhile to do it. It is. The biggest reason I needed it was to force myself to fit writing into a busy worklife. I can complain about having no time all I want, but that doesn’t get the book written.

The other reason, for me at least, that 50,000 words isn’t close to being a novel, is that I can whip off 2,000 words at the drop of a hat. I’m not bragging. People have different writing processes, and mine is to get it all down on the page and then go back and add in setting, fix what words I use, fix plot points, smooth out the writing and more.  I usuall end up with a “first draft” of about 115,000, then go back and find the book in it.

I have a friend who’s said he’s thought of doing NaNo, but it scares him. To him and all writers, I say do it anyway. It’s free. You don’t have to worry about having a finished novel at the end — the important end result is that it builds the writing habit.

And by the way, in case the whole “cold and dark” thing made you think I don’t like November, I do! Even in pandemic world, I like the entry into winter and settling in thing the world does, especially up here in Maine.

It certainly has its own beauty, despite the fact most of the foliage is gone, along with the green. Below are two photos I took around sunrise on two different mornings at the Belgrade boat landing on Route 27. Both times I was on an important errand (OK, probably on my way to the Augusta Panera or McDonald’s). But even in November, even if you’re writing, or working, or feeling undone by all the weirdness, it’s worth it to take a minute or two and enjoy the things that go on anyway. Like the sun coming up.


About Maureen Milliken

Maureen Milliken is the author of the Bernie O’Dea mystery series. Follow her on Twitter at @mmilliken47 and like her Facebook page at Maureen Milliken mysteries. Sign up for email updates at She hosts the podcast Crime&Stuff with her sister Rebecca Milliken.
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3 Responses to It was a dark and stormy night… or day… remembering is as hard as consistent writing

  1. Anne Cass says:

    I always look forward to your writing!

  2. Neato! I did NANO 10 years ago as a substitute for deer hunting. Ended up with 56000 words and a pretty decent sci-fi/thriller blend. It’s certainly worth tackling at least once.

  3. Kate Flora says:

    Lovely pictures, Maureen, and I agree 100% about NaNoWriMo. I was going to write a post about it but I’m too busy writing. I used it a few years ago to finish a novel that had been languishing in the drawer, and it was a great way to get it written.

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