NaNoWriMo Really Works!

I’ve been writing novels for more than 10 years now. I remember when I first attempted to write a novel. It was 2002. My son was 2 1/2 and my daughter was about to turn 5. My children weren’t as dependent on me, and I wasn’t nearly as exhausted (I was working full-time). 

I had read about NaNoWriMo somewhere…it is so long ago and the internet was so new that I truly have forgotten where. I’d loved writing my whole life, but never had done more than write awesome descriptive paragraphs or a few short stories. A novel seemed totally out of my reach. The idea was daunting. I thought I didn’t have it in me. 

But NaNoWriMo made me think differently. I analyzed the number of days and how many words I’d have to write each day. Why not try?  

So in October 2002, I signed myself up. I did no pre-planning. I had no outline. I was just going to write whatever came out of my head and get it down on paper. November 1st rolled around. After work, I shuttered myself away in a spare bedroom with our new-ish desktop computer and began typing. 

The words flowed. It was cathartic. I had ideas and feelings inside me that had needed to get out on paper, but I never knew it. I wrote all November long. I am pretty sure near Thanksgiving my mind crapped out. I had maybe a week to go and 15,000 more words left to write. I never did get to 50,000 words.

However, I was triumphant. I’d never written something so long. I realized I could do it! Although my first novel was not complete, I continued to work on it, targeting for that 50,000 word goal. In 2004, I finished that book.

Sure, it sucked. It was half true story of my life and half made up. There was no real plot that led you through the world I’d created. Inside those paragraphs, though, were some great sentences. Gems mixed amid the junk. I knew right then I could do this. I could write more!

The interesting thing about writing, is once you start, all of these ideas bubble to the surface of your creative mind. Ideas you never knew were buried in there. After I finished my first book, I moved onto book number 2. This book came more easily. The plot was more sketched out. I thought that book was good enough for Prime Time, so I shopped it around to agents. I don’t think I got anywhere at all with it. Maybe a couple of partial reads. 

It didn’t matter. I was hooked. 

Since then, I’ve continued to write. Some years are better than others. I’ve completed quite a few books since then and written a ton of short stories. You never know when that short story might turn into an idea for a book! 

Without NaNoWriMo, I never would be where I am today: a published author with three books. My genre has settled into paranormal suspense. I like the idea of the fantastical mixed in with reality…and a little bit of scary. If you like that kind of stuff, check out:

The Ninth Curse 
( – Nine curses. Nine weeks to live. 

The Little Black Box 
( – A research assistant and budding telekinetic in Paranormal Sciences investigates suspicious suicides connected to a mysterious black box

Blood Moon
( – Werewolves are roaming Northeast High, and Savannah Black is determined to hunt them down.

You can also visit my website:

Or follow me on Twitter: @kjgillenwater

Or track me down on GoodReads!

I want everyone out there who has ever consider trying something new, whether it be writing or skydiving or riding a horse, DON’T BE AFRAID!  Sure, you might fail, but so what?  Life is short and full of adventure. To me, even failing is winning. If I hadn’t tried, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Take that little kernel of a dream and let it grow.