Category Archives: NaNoWriMo

Genealogy for NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo 2014November is about to begin and that means National Novel Writing Month. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo since 2003. In fact, I discovered the event just before moving to Utah and that was my first year. A few years later, I volunteered to be ML, Municipal Liaison, for Salt Lake City. So I’m not just participating, I’m also in charge of organizing for the area.

I win every year. My OCD requires it. Even when my story idea is a failure, I still somehow write 50,000 words in the month, which is the goal of NaNoWriMo.

A few years ago, I tried to make it a genealogy year. I didn’t have a story idea so I decided to get my genealogy books written. It didn’t go well. Yes, I wrote enough words, but I didn’t get the writing done that I wanted to do.

This year, my genealogy goal is different. I’ve already been working on it for a while, but I want to do more faster. I plan to get all of my genealogy organized. My own research always takes a back seat to client work, but it needs to get done. I have files sitting on my computer of records I found years ago that haven’t been added into my database. I still have records that I printed from microfilm that need to be digitized (I usually rescan from the film rather than scanning the paper). I was cleaning up my old sources and putting them into different formats and writing better source citations, and I never finished.

I’ve also fallen horribly behind with my family newsletters. The last couple of years, I’ve gone back and forth about doing one big issue or individual ones for each year. I’ve decided that I’m going to do individual ones, and I plan to get them done in November. Well, I usually take longer than that on a newsletter, so if I can get two of them done, I’m doing good.

I also have a more goofy idea that will hopefully turn into a few short stories, so I have something to do at the write-ins. I can’t really do the genealogy work at those; maybe a little, but not really.

I will have to measure my words differently since there won’t be quite as much typing in my organizing. Being a rebel for NaNoWriMo sometimes means setting a different goal and a unique word counter. Since I can type 85 wpm, that’s over 5,000 words an hour. I will count an uninterrupted hour of organizing work as 2,000 words. Any interruptions will make it count as 1,000. I think that’s fair.

With this word count, dedicating at least one hour per day should work out. I hope to go well over the 50k words by counting this way. At the same time, I still need to get client work done, show up to a lot of write-ins, take care of my house, and do whatever else comes along in a month.

My true goal is to get through all of the records on my computer. This often means doing more research as I’m going, so that takes up even more time. But then I’ll be ready for the next batch of research. I know there’s plenty more for me to do just from the FHL, but I’ve been putting it off with all of this stuff unfinished.

Anyone else writing for NaNoWriMo? I know a lot of other genealogists talk about it. Anyone else ever tried to do genealogy for the month?

NaNoWriMo 2012

Another year of National Novel Writing Month has come to an end. I finished with 50,055 words a few days early and still hadn’t come up with any kind of ending for my story, so I stopped at that point. I will soon find more time for blogging and my own genealogy research. I still have to finish blogging the pictures from Ukraine and Paris, then onto all the records.

This was my sixth year as Municipal Liaison. MLs are in charge of planning activities for the locals, like write-ins and parties. Kaitlyn has been my co-ML for several years, and this year we had an ML in training, Ike. Next year, we’ll get him signed up officially — this year, he volunteered 30 minutes before the kick-off.

My writers were such a pleasure this year. Last year, we had some grief from a couple of them even before November, but this year they were all wonderful. No fights, no threats of secession, they hosted lots of write-ins, just a couple posts that needed moderating in our forum.

Last night, we had a Last Chance Write-In, in part because Kaitlyn headed off for a family vacation this morning and won’t make it to our TGIO party tonight. Ike had great timing to volunteer this year, and he was a lot of fun to hang out with.

Other events from this month include my computer dying and having to buy a new one. I ended up with a great deal on Wednesday, even better than the Black Friday price. The deals were so good that day, I also bought on a new desk and chair. The change of scenery has been good for me.

After tonight’s party, it’s back to more normal. Until next year.

NaNoWriMo Time

Since 2003, I have participated in National Novel Writing Month. Since its inception in 1999 with 21 participants, to last year’s 200k participants, writers have used November (or originally July) to attempt to write a 50k (or more) word novel.

The rules are pretty simple: write a work of fiction, at least 50,000 words, do not edit, finish in 30 days, it’s about quantity not quality.

For me, some years, the novel ends up somewhere unexpected. Some years, I’ve found my novel switching genres from what I planned. Some years have been a disaster.

NaNoWriMo is about finding the motivation to write something within a given amount of time, with a deadline, alongside of others with the same goal. For five years, I have been the Municipal Liaison for SLC. It is my job to help motivate everyone in the region, as well as plan the parties and the write-ins.

Technically, I was a rebel last year, but unintentionally. My novel crashed and burned right from the start and I ended up writing short stories, fan fiction, and counted newsletter articles and blog posts. I wrote 50k during November, but it wasn’t a novel.

This year, I am a rebel, deliberately. I have a Rosenthal Book and a Halpert Book, each originally compiled years ago. I bring these to weddings and bar mitzvahs and such to share with my relatives. I started rewriting the Rosenthal book to contain fewer charts, more content, and lots more pictures. I never finished. So instead of writing fiction this year, I’m going to rewrite my family books, and create the other two. In the end, there should be one for each grandparent.

I see several challenges in this attempt.

  1. Even with four books, can I write 50k words?
  2. Can I count pictures? A picture is worth 1000 words, after all, so how much do they count? ;-)
  3. How much reading will I have to do to be able to write all the history parts?
  4. Can I do this without constantly editing?
  5. Can I write these in a text editor and go back to insert the photos and do the page layouts later?

It’s a new challenge for me for NaNo this year. I’m sure it will work itself out in the end.

Have you ever participated in NaNoWriMo, or considered it?