Winning Advice from a LOSER

By J.A. (Julie) Kazimer

I’m a loser.

(Hey…even though I can’t see it, nodding in agreement is not very nice).

Let me change that a bit. I am a NaNoWriMo loser. A multiple one. I’ve played for five years, finally taking a break this year in order to keep my sanity. I’ve never won. Never came close unless you count 30k close.

For those who live under a rock, NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, which happens each November. A bunch of crazy people each writes a whole 50k novel in a month.  Yes, a WHOLE FREAKING NOVEL. Are these people crazy? Well, yes, they are writers so that’s a given.

However, these writers are also my heroes. Win or lose. Anyone willing to try and write a novel in a month deserves respect.

If you’re one of these crazy writers, I have some advice for ways to keep sane over the next month.

  • Don’t worry if you’re not on the road to a win. It’s not like you win a prize at the end (the web badge aside)…you know, other than satisfaction and self-fulfillment. Like that means anything in this business.
  • Even though it feels like everyone in the world is getting more words, don’t ever judge your count by others. We each have our own pace. Some people get to the saggy middle and hit a brick wall. Others run toward the end at full force, and after typing the end realize they have a steaming pile of NaNo. And others will hit 50k with a week to spare. Damn them. I, on the other hand, hit 50k about six full months later.
  • NaNo is the perfect time to try new things, to stretch your writerly muscle. Normally write vampire sagas? Why not try an action adventure cat story? Experiment. Be brave. Be reckless. Be the writer you were meant to be or at least copy someone you love.
  • Leave your expectations on October 31. While I hope you write the best novel ever, the odds are, in a month, the pace alone is going to make this novel less than perfect as a draft. We need time to dream; time to arrange plotlines and characterizations in our minds, to percolate on what comes next. That’s why we spend so much time staring at the ceiling not wearing pants. At least this is what I tell my family and friends. So after you hit your 50k, and are feeling damn good, take time to congratulate yourself and then put the novel away while your mind has a chance to mull it over.
  • Don’t rush to publish. December and January finds a mess (literally) of NaNo novels popping up on indie pub sites. While I respect indie publishing, there is something to be said for the amount of time traditional publishing takes. The process of editing and revision, cover design, copy editing, formatting and uploading takes time. I’m not suggesting you wait 2 years like a traditional publisher, just don’t hurry the needs of your work. Same goes for querying. Honor what you’ve accomplished by making it the best it can be.

I could list plenty other tidbits from the NaNo trenches, but you don’t have time to read them. You need to hit your word count. Heck, what are you even doing wasting time reading this?

If you’re participating in NaNo, please share your username and your word count so far. I’d love to see your progress, and maybe we can get a RMFW support group by friending each other.

Best of luck!

To all those who’ve served in the armed forces, thank you for your service on this Veteran’s Day.


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J.A. (Julie) Kazimer on Email
J.A. (Julie) Kazimer
J.A. (Julie) Kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO. When she isn't looking for a place to hide the bodies, she spends her time with a pup named Killer. Other hobbies include murdering houseplants. She spent a few years as a bartender and then wasted another few years stalking people while working as a private investigator before transitioning to the moniker of WRITER and penning over 15 titles. Visit her website at

4 thoughts on “Winning Advice from a LOSER

  1. Timely post, Julie! Every year as NaNo approaches, I think about it. Then I slink quietly away. Kudos to all who have the courage to go for it! Wishing you all inspiration as you reach the halfway mark!

  2. NaNo often works to get me going (or get me going again if I’ve slacked off), but my only 50,000 completed effort (2012) so far is sitting over on the file cabinet, waiting for a full rewrite. Last year I quit mid-month because I was creating a mess with a screwed-up timeline. This year I kicked off my NaNo word count at a writers retreat. I couldn’t count the Oct. 31st words, but was able to put 15,212 in for Nov. 1-3. Now I’m at 17,478 so I’m falling behind if I don’t churn out some stuff today. I’m PattyPetunia for NaNoWriMo, so you can see I’m not super serious about this process as a way to produce a publishable novel. But as I said, it gets me going (again).

  3. Thanks for the good advice, Julie. I’m trying NaNo for the first time, just for some structure to goose the number of pages in my current WIP. Didn’t even sign up for it. I’ve enjoyed parts of it so far, and have been excited by the experience of writing quickly. (I have often claimed the title of slowest writer in the world.) The biggest snag so far has been running into a big plot problem, but I’m valiantly working to smooth that out. I think I’ll count it a good experience overall, but it’s early days yet.

  4. Non-Nano’er so far. Maybe when I retire. Yeah, right. I’d match word for word with ounce for ounce of wine just to survive and then get distracted building a castle from the corks. Hey, wait, can I jump in now?

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