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Nov 06

Flashback Friday: NaNoWriMo

This week’s Flashback Friday: NaNoWriMo


My first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) was back in 2008. I wrote what would later become The Eldest Silence–a first draft of 61,870 words.

It was a mad dash that made me hold my breath and scream at the same time, yet it proved to me it was possible to write a rough draft in 30 days.

I continued year after year until the crazy year of 2011.

NaNoWriMo profileIn 2011, I was still teaching English & reading (which meant working 50-60 hour weeks), but I was also completing my Master’s Degree in CECS from the University of North Texas. That fall semester, I was taking 21 graduate hours of classes (that’s a lot by the way) and working on my project in lieu of thesis, which was an web-based interactive calendar written in PHP and MySQL. This was before things like Google Calendar existed. In fact, the tech was new enough that the university adopted my code for their online calendars for a few years.

When November rolled around, I was knee-deep in writing my project. I decided to throw caution to the wind and aim for a NaNo goal of 90,000 words in 30 days.

In fact, if I could meet this goal, I planned to reward myself with an iPad (which was fairly new at the time).

I will admit that I don’t remember a lot about that month beyond tears, stress, and ungodly amounts of caffeine, but I survived. In fact, I did more than survive. I thrived. 90,000 words and 30 days later, my calendar project was done, as was my novel. The first draft came in at 90K even.

These days, NaNo is usually every month. Between writing, rewriting, revisions, and editing, I easily do 40-50K a month. But occasionally, life jumps in and tips me on my side. When that happens and I need to kick my ass into gear, I jump back into NaNoWriMo with both feet.

It’s all about accountability.

It’s nice to look back at where I’ve been, but it’s also nice to see how far I’ve come. That first draft of that 2008 novel was so rough, so different from first drafts I write today. I’ve grown as a writer so much in the past seven years.

I will end 2015 with 2 published novels and a collection–so far from the 61,870 words that began my NaNo writing.

Here’s to all the other folks participating in NaNo this year–be they beginners or published professionals. Good luck and don’t forget to take a look back every now and again.


Click here to read other Flashback Friday posts including those by bestselling authors Jean Walker, G.G. Silverman, G. S. Jennsen, and Django Wexler.

About the author

Raven Oak

Bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood, Class-M Exile, and the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays.

She spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When she’s not writing, she’s getting her game on, enjoying cartography, or staring at the ocean.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach.

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