I wrote a novel with NaNoWriMo!
Hello bloggy friends, long time no blog, sorry 🙂
Posts full of excuses about why the blogger has not blogged for ages can be so boring (I know, I wrote enough of them when I was trying to blog every day a few years back…) so I’m not going to write one. But I do at least have a reasonably good excuse for the month of NaNovember (that’s not a typo, it’s been my new name for this month for the last few years) because I was busy writing the first draft of a novel. I have done this before and I think I must have mentioned it here too, because every year at this time I join the massive online writing project that is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, though it ought to be InNo really because it is totally international).
That link ought to take you to my wonderful stats page, which shows how many words I wrote each day, it is a very encouraging graph which shows the novel growing. This is my best ever NaNo graph. It is my 5th year of doing it and my 5th win, but my first time to actually complete what I wrote all the way to “The End”. All those other times I hit 50k, breathed a huge sigh of relief, patted myself on the back and stopped writing.
Part of the reason why is because I had not really got a proper plan or outline. And my goal was 50k, not completion. So this year, I decided, would be different. This year, I would not only win, but finish my first draft.
I think I may have had some kind of plan about that way back at the beginning of the year… something about a Year of Finishing Things? Anyone remember that? Well, it didn’t go all that well, I don’t think I finished a whole lot more things than any other year. But my most important goal for finishing something was the first draft of a novel, any novel. I tried quite hard in the first part of the year, but whether it was me not being ready yet or some other thing it didn’t happen. Then there were the moths. Did I blog about the moths? I can’t remember, but if not then I might round to it, if I can bear it.
But NaNo was always my backup plan. I thought, even if I don’t manage it in the rest of the year, surely I can get a good head start in NaNovember and push on to finish it before the year ends. I totally never expected to actually finish in one month! And it’s not the novella I half expected, my final word count was 87363 words! (Including those two special ones, “the end” 🙂 )
And not only did I not stumble to a halt just past the 50k mark, which I was half afraid of, I sped up after hitting that! I had a 10k day 🙂 and many others were 5 or 6k, I could hardly believe it. I did feel the elusive end was receding the more I wrote at one point, but then I reached it on Friday 29th and was elated.
So, how did I manage it? I did a number of things differently this year.
1) I had a smaller, more achievable idea. My ideas tend to get out of hand. (A bit of that happened anyway and I do have to edit heavily.) So, I thought, instead of some huge grand idea, I will write a small book about something simple.
2) I planned and outlined, right up to the final scene. Some of it did change as I wrote, but I did reach that scene almost as I had visualised it. And some of the early scenes which I had visualised several times as I impatiently awaited the beginning of the month almost wrote themselves, as if I was just describing what happened on a TV screen in my head. For the first time, I even began at midnight.
3) I picked something for which the research would be fun and easy, and which I would not get hung up about like something based on my academic research. My novel is about antique dealers. I don’t think I’ve got around to mentioning this fairly new hobby of mine on here, but for a bit over a year now I have been into antiques. That’s a subject for another post, but since I find it enormous fun to go to antique shops and fairs and have become friendly with some of the dealers, I thought that would make research fun (and be a great excuse for shopping!) so I did some interviews in October once I had my idea. I also went to an auction for the first time and bid on stuff! (My husband despairs as the house fills up…)
4) My goal was the completion of the draft, not 50k. I would have counted it a win if I got to 47k and the end, more than 87k and no end in sight. That meant that although I was happy to reach 50k and win NaNo I kept going because I had not reached my goal yet.
It has been the most fun NaNo ever, even better than my first, which I loved. I think I sped up towards the end for the same reason that you read faster at the end of a book, you really want to know what happens next, and the only way I could find out was to write it. I still have a lot of work ahead with it, but I am excited to do it because I have never got this far before. Although I had a plan and stuck to the general outline, I did allow my characters a lot of leeway and some of them took it, in spades. Give an inch and they take three miles. But I am not worried, their antics carried me over the finishing line and I can rework everything in edits, even if it means changing 90% of the thing!
So I hope to end the year a lot happier than how I began it, having achieved a Big Scary Important life goal 😀
Next year – editing and who knows, maybe even publishing!
How are your goals going?