Reflections on #NaNoWriMo 2013

NaNoWriMoThis year, I did it. If you follow me on Twitter (@toddvogts), I’m sure you saw a bunch of posts with the hashtag #NaNoWriMo, and you might be wondering what that was all about. Well, it is something I’m pretty proud of.

In the past, I’ve always thought about taking part in National Novel Writing Month, but 2013 marks my first time taking part in the fun. See, NaNoWriMo, as it’s called, is a contest where entrants commit to writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. Winners get the honor being a winner. There isn’t a real prize like money or a publishing deal, but it is a great way to stay motivated and keep pushing forward. Every day I updated my word count on the NaNoWriMo website, and seeing the word count and where I stood in terms of achieving at least 50,000 words kept me focused. And I have to admit, it feels pretty great to be a winner. I mean, I wrote a novel in a month! Just knowing I’m capable of that is incredibly empowering.

I am currently in the middle of the follow-up to my debut novel, “Murder at St. Alfanus,” but I’ve been having trouble getting over the hump and moving forward. So I decided, for the sake of the contest, I would write something entirely different. I saw it as a way to jump start my creative juices. To take it up a notch further, I decided to write something out of my comfort zone. I was going to write a supernatural novel. In honor of where I used to live because it , I decided to set the novel in Ransom, Kansas.

In the waning days of October 2013, I outlined the first few chapters. Then on the morning of Nov. 1, 2013, I set to work. I didn’t think. I just wrote. I dove in head first, and as I typed, a story began to unfold. I couldn’t believe it! I was doing it!

As the month wore on, I wrote every day, with a few minor exceptions. I outlined nearly every chapter before I wrote it, which helped. This surprised me. I didn’t think outlining was my method, but it kept me on track. There were only a few chapters that just spilled out of me without being planned first. It was magical!

I finished on Nov. 30, 2013. I checked in with an official word count of 65,625. More importantly, I was happy with what I had written. I have a few trusted readers looking it over now, and then I hope to get it published.

The biggest take away from completing NaNoWriMo is that now I know what I’m truly capable of. If I just sit down and do my work, I can accomplish whatever writing goals I want. So 2014 will be the year I complete the follow-up to “Murder at St. Alfanus,” and I am stoked.

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About toddvogts 827 Articles
Todd R. Vogts, Ph.D., is an assistant professor of media at Sterling College in Kansas. Previously, he taught yearbook, newspaper, newsmagazine, and online journalism in various Kansas high schools, and he ran a weekly newspaper in rural Kansas. He continues to freelance as a professional journalist from time to time. Also, Vogts is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ), the Journalism Education Association (JEA), and the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), among others. He earned his Master Journalism Educator (MJE) certification from JEA in 2022. When he’s not teaching or writing, he runs his mobile disk jockey service and takes part in other entrepreneurial ventures. He can be reached at or via his website at