Today is the last day of NaNoWriMo (or National Novel Writing Month). If you don’t know what that is, it is where writers get together to accomplish the challenge of writing 50,000 words in one month (usually November). NaNoWriMo has expanded through the years to include April and July with Camp NaNoWriMo where you get to set your own word count goals during that month (I particularly like this). The point of the challenge is to write and accomplish a first draft (not a final draft. Editing must still be done). I participated this year wanting to get a bulk of writing done for a project for next year (more on this project later). But I had some unique goals because it wasn’t 50,000 words long. So my goals:
- 24,000 words
- A first draft
- Open to working on other, smaller projects if the main project got done early.
So in the end:
- 21,744 words
- All but 657 words are for a different project but not everything I’ve written will be in the final draft.
- A first draft is complete
Even though I didn’t get as many words as I wanted and I didn’t hit the 50,000 like I secretly kind of hoped I still might do, I feel accomplished. The main point of doing this was to complete the first draft which is what I did this afternoon. I now have something to work with and a huge chunk done for later. So I hit my goal in a way. The first draft of the first half of the story is written. The next half of this story will be written during the next NaNo which would be April.
Yet, part of me is still sad I didn’t hit the 50,000 mark. Not making the daily goals the site projects was actually a big contention for myself for about the first half of the month. I knew going in that I wasn’t going to hit 50,000, my story was just not that long. But not hitting the daily goals frustrated me, stressed me out, and I was putting words on paper without feeling anything and were coming out pretty bad which added another lay of frustration. It was more going through the motions to satisfy and see the graph grow than anything else. Strangely enough, a glitch that I caused on my NaNo page ended being a big help in overcoming this. I tried to see if I could change the word count and ended up changing what NaNo event this was for. Suddenly, the site was saying the project was for an old event and wouldn’t let me update my word count. I had a melt down because I couldn’t put it back to the current event and I couldn’t update which meant I couldn’t see the progress on the chart and I wasn’t sure if it could be fixed (I know, very superficial and a bit over the top). But, over the course of trying to get this fix, I learned to let it go. I was there to write the first draft and if I did that than I accomplished NaNo, whether I was able to continue updating through the site or not. The problem eventually got fixed (see, no reason to melt down, right?) but I was in a better frame of mind. I focused on writing the characters’ story and focused on the story, not the word count to update (but I still love updating and seeing how far I got). It allowed me to connect to the characters better. I think the story started getting better because of that.
Granted, I still had to write. I made myself write every day over the last two weeks (except yesterday because I was way overtired) even if it was just a little bit. I was stuck again in the story so I only had to write a few hundred words. I was reading How to Make a Living as a Writer by James Scott Bell at the time and he talked about writing 500 words in the morning and 200 at night, no matter what. So, even though I was stuck and it was late and I didn’t want to do it, I would write a little bit. That get me to find where I was going in the story for that stuck section and I wrote 300-700 each day during that two week period. I was productive even through an unknown section and it didn’t turn out bad.
Another thing I gained from this experience is how much I wrote. I wrote of 21,000 words in a single month. All year I’ve been trying to finish a novella to self-publish. I finished the first draft and am in the middle of a second but it has been going slow because of interruptions and me not working on it when I have the time. It is currently sitting over 18,000 words and I wrote most of those this year too. But it took me a couple of months. So I couldn’t believe that I wrote more than that in a single month. It just goes to show how much you can get done if you set down to it daily, even if it is just a little bit because that is all you can manage that day. You will still be making progress. If the story is going smoothly, I can write a lot more than a little bit at once.
During all this, I even brained stormed when I got stuck and wrote a several side stories that relate to my main story to discover some background information. I also wrote a story for Havok which I sent in for consideration for January. It encourages me to get back to work writing and getting those words on paper.
So, I got a lot out of NaNo this year. Didn’t accomplish the set goal but I got my goal done and even came out with a new perspective and encouragement as I move on with my novella and my NaNo project which does need editing (especially in big spots) but that I have a lot of hope and excitement for.
Keep an eye on this blog next month to learn more about the NaNo project and what I’m doing with it next year.