Monday, 24 October 2011

The Qualities of a Winner by Kathleen S. Allen

... is the WRONG attitude. (fanpop)

My name is Kathleen S. Allen and this is my second year participating in NaNoWriMo. I had heard of it before but didn’t know what it was until a friend of mine suggested I do it. I looked on their website and decided to go for it. I was working 60-80 hours a week and I would come home, eat dinner and sit at my computer, writing my word count for the day (around 1667). Sometimes I got up early and wrote before going to work. I’d been kicking around doing a Young Adult fantasy novel for a while and I thought NaNoWriMo would give me a good incentive to start it.

I drew up an outline a week before November 1st and as soon as NaNoWriMo started, I began writing.  I made it through to the 50K word count in three weeks. I had a rough draft of my faerie novel and continued to write on it through December until it was just over 85K. I spent the next couple of months editing it and began to send it out in April, 2011. In May I got an offer from a small publisher in Canada to publish it. LORE OF FEI is going to be published in April, 2012 by Muse It Up Publishing. 

As I was thinking about NaNoWriMo I spoke to a couple of friends who joined. One ended up not doing any writing and one got to 20K and gave up. I wondered… what qualities did those who win NaNoWriMo have? Why would anyone in their right mind agree to write a 50K word novel in thirty days??? I am a competitive person by nature; I hate to lose at anything. I’m one of those people who “goes for the jugular” when I play a game. I like to compete against others, but myself? Not so much. (I usually lose. LOL)

I thought about it after I finished NaNoWriMo last year and I talked to my friend who introduced it to me and asked her what qualities she saw that helped me win NaNoWriMo. “You are tenacious, determined and persistent, kinda like a Bull Terrier, you don’t let go until someone pulls your jaw off them.” Hmm. . . at least she didn’t say I looked like a Bull Terrier!

Let’s look at each of those qualities and see if they measure up. defines tenacious as:
  1. Holding fast, characterized by keeping a firm hold
  2. Highly retentive
  3. Pertinacious, persistent, stubborn or obstinate
  4. Holding together; cohesive, not easily pulled asunder; tough

For my purposes I think that the first and third definitions suits NaNoWriMo the best.  Yes, I kept a firm hold on my story as I wrote it and I was tough about doing my word count every day. Yes, I am tenacious.

Determined is defined as:
  1. Resolute; staunch
  2. Decided; settled; resolved

During the month of November I was staunch, decided and resolved to finish my novel in thirty days! So, yes, I am determined.

Persistent is defined as:
  1. Persisting, ESPECIALLY IN SPITE OF OPPOSTION, OBSTACLES, DISCOURAGEMENT (caps and boldface are mine)
  2. Lasting or enduring tenaciously (there’s that word again)
  3. Constantly repeated; continued
When I did NaNoWriMo I was able to keep writing in spite of my horrendous work schedule (hence the bold face) and in fact, writing every day was a stress release. I looked forward to sitting down at my laptop at the end of a long workday or before I started what I knew would be another long day.

Writing kept me sane. And, I’m happy to say that I no longer have that job, so my stress level is better and not working has allowed me to concentrate fully on my writing. I have published ten novels since NaNoWriMo on Kindle/Nook/Smashwords, another one came out in August with, and a murder mystery was just released by Gypsy Shadow in September, 2011. 

What qualities do you have to win NaNoWriMo? 

Determined, persistent and tenacious works for me!

Kathleen S. Allen has been writing since she was eight years old. Okay, she hand copied her poems onto plain white paper, paper punched three holes in the sides and threaded red ribbon through the holes that she tied with a bow. Ta Dah! Her first book! She writes in different genres but YA is her favourite. Find her books on, they are available in print and as Ebooks. Find her book trailers on You Tube. She is on Twitter as @kathleea and on Facebook as Witch Hunter.


  1. Last year was my first year, and fundamentally what kept me going was competition with a particular member of the local group. We were neck-and-neck through the first four days, then after the first meet we went mad trying to beat each other (I eventually won by about 3 hours because I stayed up all night on day 8 while she had to sleep before an early start to get to work).

    The other thing that kept me going was not wanting to let the local group down in inter-region competition. That feeling of my work contributing to a group was very rewarding, and good pressure, not to mention the unpleasant looming spectre of public failure... ;)

  2. I so agree! I didn't want to let my regional group down either and was happy to see the word count go up and up as members of my region finished. I think the social aspect of NaNoWriMo is not to be dismissed, it kept me going!!!! Good luck this year!

  3. (Nods and takes notes.) ;) Great post! :D

  4. Man! Sounds like I need to get my butt in a group! LOL Great Article, First year so I am roaming the internet and I feel like i'm cheating looking at articles like these...Lol. But I have been going through A LOT of health issues and these articles, YOUR article, is what keeps me going, what gives me the mindset that I can't quit! If I have to go to the ER, well, then I'm taking my laptop with me, how bout that!!! Surgery? Better put a pen in my hand when you wake me up, that's all I'm saying. But for real, that picture could be me so easily. You have no idea, and what makes it easier is that I have, not an excuse, but a reason to be like that. But YOUR ARTICLE gives me more of a reason to continue. Seeing that someone actually made it, they did it, they succeeded because they didn't give in, they went all the way and they didn't let anything or anyone stop them, that motivates my heart to keep on going. Thank you and please, for the love of God, continue writing :) **acting like I have allergies while wiping my eyes**

  5. Thank you so much for posting this. I won't be doing nanowrimo to complete a novel because November is an insane month for me (every year), but I will commit to writing on my WIP every single day during the month, thanks to your post above. What great encouragment!

  6. Michelle Pickett26 October 2011 at 08:20

    I agree that writing is a stress reliever. I look forward to it all day. I write at night after everyone else is in bed. The dream while they sleep - I dream on paper. Some nights I write until three am because I just can bring myself to stop. It is definitely my stress release. I'm looking forward to NANO - I think I'm tenacious and determined and that's what is going to get me those 50,000 words.

    Author of Concilium, available July 2012
    Concilium: The Departure, available November 2012

  7. Wow, Kathleen. You continue to amaze me. Good job! And good luck with future NaNoWriMos. :)

  8. If only it wasn't in November. We did a mini-wri-mo at our local writers' group in February and I loved it--got the next of my Hemlock books written. Maybe I'll suggest we do it again next Feb, but most of my friends are too busy with Thanksgiving and prep for Christmas in November.

  9. My friend suggested me last year to join Nano and I did but I did not anything to write just put the title and synopsis and by the time I realize that it's already the end of the month...oh well. But! I want to try again this year...I do hope I can do it!