My NaNoWriMo of 2020

November 1, 2020

My Nanowrimo 2020

I always dreamed to be a writer when I was little. It was my answer to everybody that asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up between middle school until late high school. (It was actually my third career choice, my first dream “job” was being an Eskimo).

Now I’m a bit far off from that path, but writing slowly for this blog brings me a bit closer to that dream. But I write sporadically and my backlog for new articles is getting full. Getting to it is always the hardest part. So I went on my way to subscribe to NaNoWriMo: the National Novel Writing Month!

In fact, I’m not writing a novel. But I joined anyway to prepare drafts and articles for this blog. The goal of NaNoWriMo is to write 50000 words during November. For some people, it usually means drafting a novel, or a series of essays. For me the goal will be to add 50000 words to my blog (at least to write drafts.) And maybe toward the end I’ll write a few short stories if I have a good pace to try my hands at that kind of writing.

To help in this journey, you can join a local community of people writing their own things. I joined the one from Montréal (Canada, QC) to have a small community to share my achievements and my hardships.

50000 words in a month is a lot. To give some perspective, since I started this blog in 2018, I wrote around 20000 words and published around 12000 of them. So if I “win” NaNoWriMo this year, I’ll more than double what I did previously in approximately two years.

The plan

To write that much, I needed a plan. So I started by looking at my backlog of ideas and projects, ordering item, tagging them accordingly. As of today I have around 50 things I want to talk about during NaNoWrimo (and this article is the first one) including:

  • Git and the great value of knowing in depth our tooling
  • The Kush Empire: there were black Pharaoh!
  • The influence of fencing, the great values of this sport and how doing sport at a very high level translates to the workplace.
  • What I read/listen/watch recently that had a big impact on me
  • Python 3.9 and the PEP about adding macros to Python (as in: Lisp’s macro, not C’s macro)
  • Reflection on my mistakes and my wins of 2020
  • The benefits of being exposed to many programming languages and paradigms
  • And a lot more hopefully!

I am also hoping to nourish a habit of writing by pushing me to write every day for a month. For now I intend to write 30 minutes in the morning before work, 30 minutes for my lunch break and 30 minutes or more in the evening. The evening is a bit harder to plan for me but I should be able to at least get a good hour of writing every day.


I know already that a few obstacles are coming ahead:

  • I’ll have a very busy month at work. We are launching in production a service that has been in the working for more than a year without being seen by a user. (I know how much of a great idea this is…) But in a way, I think doing NaNoWriMo will help me reset my brain from work and that will be a good time to do it.
  • I need to spend less time on my computer, not more time. Since March, I am working from home (like many people in COVID time). It means I am no longer going outside of my house every day, I can spend sometime 4 hours straight without getting up, and after work I also spend time on my computer for personal endeavour. This means I am spending a huge amount of time in the day at the same place,without moving much. This one is difficult to balance, for now I think I will replace watching random videos on Youtube by writing for my blog but if I want to stay in good shape in the long run, I need to find a way to move more while working, or write somewhere else than the computer. Maybe a dictaphone? Handwriting is good but too slow and I still need to write it down in a digital form afterward so not so good.
  • I plan to write some articles in French. For now it’s really difficult for me to write on technical topics even so it is my mother tongue because it always feels weird to have half the vocabulary in French and half in English. Even weirder is translating everything in French, because it becomes really hard to follow. In real-life nobody uses only French terms (in France at least, in Quebec, French is a bit more used for software jargon). To help me overcome this difficulty, I will use bitoduc, an English-French dictionary of software terms.

Let the fun begin :)

NaNoWriMo started November first, this was the first article of a hopefully long series! I’m looking forward for this month and I really like the idea of bursting through a short period of time, with the help and motivation of the community.

If you ever dreamed of writing, be it for a novel, a blog, poetry… or anything really, join me :)

Bonus 1

While daydreaming about how I would go on about doing NaNoWrimo and my old dreams of being a writer, I found a couple interesting link for writing:

  • To write better, develop a habit of writing A HN thread about this eponym article
  • Be prolific stating that quantity and quality goes hand in hand. The more you produce, the more you progress. The story in the article was actually debunked in many threads in HN or Reddit for having no real source, but I think the meaning being all of it stay true. In my case, if I never write anything in the hope of writing the perfect story the first time I try, it will be a lot less interesting than if I wrote lots of essays to train and grow a style. I think a caveat here is that producing too much can lead to brain diarrhea. If you just write everything that goes through your head, quality can be quite low. As always, you must find a balance.

But in general, writing a lot is beneficial compared to writing very little when you want to improve your writing.

Bonus 2

I put in my NaNoWriMo profile that one of my all-time favourite books was Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials. But to add it to my list, I had to find the title in English and it’s a lot different than in French. I spent some time in the Wikipedia page for it to try to understand why and discovered that one of the major sources of inspiration for this trilogy was John Milton’s Paradise Lost. I have reserved a copy already from my local library, I’ll have it in 10 days :) I still don’t have a good idea for why the name is quite different from one language to another, though :/

If you have questions, suggestions or want to discuss about this subject, I'd be more than happy if you reach me at See also my open invite
Nifty tech tag lists from Wouter Beeftink