“There are no limits to what you can accomplish, except the limits you place on your own thinking.”
– Brian Tracy
This year I participated in the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time!
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) is a internationally recognized event where writers from all around the world challenge themselves to write 50,000 words in the span of 30 days (November being the chosen month).
I’ve known about NaNoWriMo for years, but never imagined wanting to put myself through such an extraordinarily mind-flogging experience. Well … never say never, because you never know what the future holds; and this year is proof, as I ended up compelled to dive in and give it a go!
My story of choice: Book 5 in my Dragon Calling series (which I had intended to start writing next year). Well, if inspiration calls, better not dally!
Now, for those who don’t know, I do not consider myself a fast writer. I haven’t the talent of regularly pulling words from my mind in vast swathes of scenes and paragraphs at a time (enough to compile word-mountains to complete three novels in a year, type of thing). Some people have that talent! And wow, I tip my hat to them. But me? Well, I’ve been working on my current fantasy series for 15 years now. The shortest length of time I managed to accomplish a complete first draft was last year, when I worked on the 4th book (taking around 9-10 months). And I attribute that success to all the previous years of practice and self improvement, and the fact that the story is already established (for the most part), I was well acquainted with the main cast, and I had no pressing deadlines in any other area of my life.
I guess those reasons were also why I decided to try my hand at NaNoWriMo this year, even though the pace of my usual writing habits are the complete opposite (but, I suppose I’m not the only one there, otherwise NaNoWriMo wouldn’t be the challenge that it is).
So, with my story already established, characters already well-known, key plots points already set in place, the only real challenge for me was to try ad slog out 50,000 words within a month (something I have never even remotely done before). I spent the second half of October mentally prepping, as well as putting into note-form all the important details and plot points needing to take place, and pinning all that onto a cork-board for easy viewing. Did I review the board regularly during my NaNoWriMo writing spells? … hahaha, not really. But the fact that I spent a lot of time beforehand thinking them over, jotting down their timelines, and just simply writing them in bullet-point form, helped to sear them into my mind.
So, November 1st arrives, and I take a deep breath and take the plunge!
The first week was great! I conquered each average-word-count day with extra words under my belt. I was aiming for above-average because I knew there would be at least 3 days where I wouldn’t get in a single word (I had a convention to attend).
After the convention, I was behind the average so I kicked it up a gear managed to get in (what ended up being) my best word-count for any one day. Feel those fingers burn, baby!
For the most part, I maintained momentum, even though I couldn’t help but go back over certain scenes and chapters and tweaking a few things. Dead-line or no dead-line, I can’t just shovel words out into unintelligible heaps to painfully sift through at a later date. I sculpt as I go, even if it’s still rough sculpting.
Ever upward I went, and at the end of each day I felt a quiet and surreal sense of accomplishment. I was DOING NaNoWriMo … and I wasn’t failing like a Magicarp flailing on land!
There was only one day, really, where things got difficult. I had to really wring my brain (not literally, otherwise, eww!) to squeeze out the words, and even then I only managed around 500. I felt like I’d been trying to solve all the secrets of the universe. My brain was like, “What are you doing to me! Please, I beg you, no more.”
My response: “Oh but there is more my friend! We are not done! Come on, we got this!”
And back I dove, into the mix of messy mire and dazzling universe of the imagination. The days churned by with an average of 1,800 words a day. Until, come the 28th …
I made it. I survived.
I had no aspirations to try and squeeze in a few more Ks to reach 55K or anything; I had another project I really needed to get done asap, so I spent the final NaNoWriMo days working on that instead.
BUT I DID IT! My first NaNoWriMo! And from it I learned that I could get an impressive word-count out within the span of a month. Even though I’m only about half-way through the draft of the book, it’s a great boost! Only 50,000 words left to go, lol.
Will I participate again in the future? Who knows; maybe! Will I make a habit of gutting my brain of so many words for month-long stretches … umm, no way. I know the limits of my constitution and sanity; my already-established writing habits work just fine for me, thank you very much.
SO, who else participated in NaNoWriMo this year? Feel free to share the highlights of your adventure in the comments!
And thanks for reading about mine. It was certainly a new experience.
“Quit saying you don’t have time. You have time for what you make time for.”
– Bryant McGill