NaNoWriMo Day 1 Update and Lessons Learnt on Writing My First Novel

NaNoWriMo has started and thousands of people round the world are tackling new novels, aiming to finish 50,000 words in 1 month! This is a bit of a sprint but it has some great advantages (see this post for more details).

I try to be honest and share my writing journey on this blog. I have now written 3 non-fiction books, I’m pretty good with internet marketing, but I seriously have no experience with writing fiction novels. I read like a maniac though so I know what I like. I also know I am capable of writing 150,000 words (with wicked editing, it will be a 100,000 word novel!)

So I thought I would try it this month with an idea I have been playing around with for months. I will update with short videos every few days, and here’s the first one with highlights below.

Highlights from the video:

  • I realise that I have not planned enough and find myself writing disjointed plot sections and extra notes as things appear in my head. I am bubbling with ideas, but it is not directed at writing in sequence. (Maybe this is not an issue right now though!)
  • I need to research more in order to write, e.g. my protagonist knows Krav Maga, hand to hand combat developed in Israel, but I don’t know enough to write in detail about it.
  • I know about my protagonist, Morgan. She is a kick-butt heroine, kind of Lara Croft meets Bones (Tempe Brennan). She is also a parapsychologist which directs the theme of the book. But I don’t want to write back story about her. I am mindful of the Back Story post by Rachelle Gardner last week, so need to bring in more action and less ‘telling’.
  • I do have a song for the mood of the book. It’s ‘Kryptonite’ by 3 Doors Down and you can listen on I was driving this afternoon and this song speeds the heart and races the mind (for me anyway!). I want my novel to be like this too. A book that makes you want to drive too fast! Watch this space for a fast paced thriller!

Let me know how NaNoWriMo is going for you – or any other works in progress this month!

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. says

    All the best – you can do it.

    Me – I have to finish of my WIP – a 40,000 word children’s novel which is my thesis paper for my Master of Arts in Creative Writing – it’s due at the end of the month!

    By the way when you wrote: “I have now written 3 non-fiction novels” did you mean “books”?

  2. says

    Thanks so much Trevor – you have a big job in front of you too! Masters in Creative Writing would be fun – I’ll put that on the long term to do list!
    In the meantime, I have updated the mistake you pointed out :)

    Thanks, Joanna

  3. says

    First off, as an American I could just listen to you talk for FOREVER. haha Gotta love the British accent. :)

    Secondly, this is my first NaNo, and I’m actually really pleased with my progress thus far. I went to the first write-in last night for my region and began writing, and at around 2am (1am with the time change) I met my bare minimum quota at approximately 1700 words. I went home, slept for the night, and now I’m planning on getting my wordcount somewhere in between 3 and 4,000 words by the end of the day.

    I’m actually working on a story that’s been brewing in the back of my mind for several years now (I never had the courage to actually sit down and write it.) so I have the benefit of knowing my characters and setting really well. It’s just an issue of pounding it all out and not letting my inner editor get in the way as I do so. In the end, I’ve had to forcefully send my inner editor on a vacation. haha

    I’m sure you’ll be successful. Your idea sounds really interesting. I want to hear more! :)


  4. says

    Great post! However, I think you need to shelve your inner editor a little during this part of the process. Don’t worry about showing vs. telling or getting the details of Krav Maga just right. That stuff can be fixed later, during your first rewrite. As a novelist friend of mine said to me, “Don’t worry about it getting it just right. Just write!” :)

    Best of luck! I hope this will be our year! :)

  5. says


    I’m excited to hear how it works out for you and love the tips.

    This will be my third year (going for my second consecutive win as we speak).

    Preparation and keeping a connection with others is important and it sounds like you’ve got a good handle on both. Also have faith that the more disjointed stuff that you’ve written may very work out somewhere in your novel, even if it’s not in the way that you expected.


  6. says

    Thanks for these updates. I contemplated doing NaNo at the last minute, but the raw ideas in my head have not percolated enough where I feel I could at least have a story arc in place. I look forward to hearing more about your writing and the things you learn this month. Just hearing what you’ve encountered in your first day is comforting because I’ve encountered those things as well (although not in a NaNoWriMo setting). Good luck!

  7. says

    I’m off to a good start. I logged in 1712 words today. Like you I have a lot more research to do. In Chicago, I live in the building that used to be the main YMCA hotel and the 2nd largest hotel in Chicago, 1916-1979. The novel is set in the late 1940s, so I need to do some more research on the building and the area. A woman I go to church with stayed here in the late 40s when she first moved to Chicago (the upper 4 floors were for women and children after 1933); I’m going to be talking to her this week. I also need to contact the YMCA and see if they can tell me how the hotel would have been run. Then there’s the South Loop History Museum, and the Museum of History.

    My protagonist is an old Catholic woman, Miss Madie, who I think is going to turn out to be a kick in the pants. It’s going to be a ghost story/urban fantasy novel. Miss Madie thinks she is feeling and seeing saints, and she thinks this is because she is going to die any day. Actually the hotel has a few phantom-like residents as well. Now I just need a plot.

  8. says

    Thanks so much for the encouragement everyone. I have tried not to edit as I go along today. I just got words onto the page and put comments in brackets where I forgot things (what’s the child’s name again? how is the office set out? can you hide here?!)

    Very exciting times! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *