I’ve known about NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for a few years now and every year I’ve wanted to participate. Unfortunately, I’d always been right in the middle of a project and didn’t want to switch gears to start a new one. But this year? With one novel complete and two sequels bobbing around in my head begging to be written, this year I’m going for it!
What is NaNoWriMo, you may ask? Well, let me enlighten you. For the month of November, writers commit to create the first draft to their next riveting masterpiece. To make the goal more tangible, the NaNo gods set a 50,000 word total to win. That’s 1667 words a day folks, which tends to equal a scene or two.
NaNo is great for a few reasons. First, it pulls hermit writers together for a common purpose. Anyone can join forums, ask successful authors questions and advice on twitter, watch webinars to inspire great writing, and attend local write-ins. Also, NaNo is a nonprofit organization. Procedes go to creative writing instruction in classrooms and camps across the United States. And most importantly, it lights a fire under our . . . ummm . . . bums. Writing 1667 words for thirty days straight, especially during a holiday month, seems daunting, if not impossible. But with a goal set, my pre-work done, and a “Winner” t-shirt already ordered and in the mail, I feel motivated, excited even. (Click if you want more info on NaNoWriMo).
Pre-NaNo butterflies, visions of greatness, and overall excitement aside, what actually happens during the month? The following is a day-by day, week-by-week log of the down and dirty reality of the (my) writer’s mind during NaNo.
November 1st: Kick off day. What a perfect writing day. Sunday with no commitments, no chores, not even dinner. It feels like fall, cool and raining off and on. I set my NaNoWriMo banners on Facebook and let the world know my word count goals. It took me just a few hours to write a scene, word count: 1702! Then I spent the rest of the day playing with plot details I still need to figure out, researching, naming a character, and stressing about attending a local kick-off Write-In. When 7:45 rolled around, grudgingly (like a twelve-year-old girl going to a new school in the middle of the year) and with much prompting and persuasion from my husband, I got in my car, and with my stomach in knots drove to Barnes & Noble. No one was there. Even the store manager hadn’t heard of NaNo or any events. Sad! I drove home and listened to NaNo’s virtual Write-In and wrote just shy of 1000 words, finishing the next scene. Word total for the day: 2,693! Great start, me!
Nov. 7th: What a horrifying week personally, but I survived and I conquered my writing goals. I missed writing on Friday, but still maintained an average word count of 2,100 words a day. I ended the first week at 14, 703 words AND even hit my Double It Day on Saturday with 4,602 words. This week I loved participating in the write-ins (listening to them in the background as I typed away at a scene) and being inspired by Marissa Meyer’s, the author of the Lunar Chronicles, advice and writing process. All in all, it was my greatest first week of NaNo ever.
Nov. 14th: Wow! What another hard week in my personal life, but still I wrote! I ended the week at 38, 109 words. Whew! That’s a lot of writing. I missed another day, but participated in a local Write-In and met a few local writers. All in all it was a good week (of writing!).
Nov. 18th: I won! I hit 53,033 words today. I can’t wait to don my winner shirt. Hopefully it will come in the mail soon. And then my friends, I will grace you with a picture of me wearing it (smugly)!!!! I did it! I wrote 50,000 words in less than three weeks. Since I have another 12 days, new goals are in order. Goal 1: Finish entire first draft. I have about 5 scenes left. Goal 2: Write everyday for the rest of the month. If I accomplish that I will have written for 28 days total and will (hopefully) get through a third of another first draft project.
The biggest take away for me this week is how much I need a writing community. The encouragement of Writer Pep Talks, Virtual Write-Ins, and other YouTube videos lets me know I’m not alone in this crazy passion.
Nov. 24th: I’m visiting family in Idaho, and even on the road, I’ve kept writing everyday. I’m six scenes in to the second sequel to Gatekeeper and hope to finish another scene each day until the November 30th.
Concluding thoughts: All in all, November has been hugely rewarding and I’ve turned into a huge advocate for NaNoWriMo. I surpassed my expectations in writing, loved all the writer support, and, to top it all off, met a few local writers. I think next year (or maybe during NANoWriMo camps in April and July), I will force myself to participate in on-line forums. Maybe I can build some lasting relationships this way.