For the first time ever I decided to take the plunge and signed myself up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) with no idea how I would do. Up to this point I had a hard time finishing a short story in a year, how would I fare with a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days?
It took until 6:37 pm on Nov 30th for me to do it, but I was able to complete a “zero draft” for a science fiction novel in those thirty days. I say zero draft because it needs a lot of work to be even a true first draft, but all the elements of the story are there and I’m please how it turned out.
Now that I’ve had a couple days to process the experience, there are some things that I would like to share:
- I couldn’t have done it without an outline. I went in with 37 pages of scribbled notes that were mostly vague plot elements, backstory, and snippets of dialogue that I thought sounded good.
- I lost 3 days of writing in my first week. As things stand now, my fiance and I live 5.5 hours apart and once a month I travel to be with her until she can move down here. As such, I try very hard to make what little time we have together as meaningful as possible and decided to forgo my writing to spend time with her. Being 4000+ words behind at the end of week one was a big hole to climb out of.
- Being part of a writing group was my anchor. My NaNoWriMo region didn’t have a ML (municipal liaison) and none of the efforts to have a write-in worked out, so my online writing group was my support system. Thank you “Genre Writers of Atlantic Canada”!!!
- I “ran out” of story around 35,000 words and almost freaked. I hit the end of the main plot, and my outline, around the 35K mark and froze. I thought for sure it was going to be more in the 60-80K range when I started out and doubt smacked me in the face, maybe I DIDN’T have a novel in me. It was some advice from members of my writing group that convinced me that while I might have finished the main story, there are other things to do. Did all my characters have completed arc’s? Were my minor characters anything more than stand in’s or basic plot devices, or did they have their own wants/needs? These questions gave me enough material hit my goal and make it a better story imho.
- I suck at verbally explaining my story… Either good or bad, few people in my world really seemed interested that I was attempting NaNoWriMo, and the one time someone asked what my novel was about during the month, I stumbled my way through a disjointed layout that probably would have made more sense if I had been drunk. This is something that I hadn’t thought of before, and that I do need to spend some time considering.
In closing, like most people I had some high’s and low’s during the month and while I went in with the attitude that ANY new words would make it a success for me, I really wanted to “win”, to prove to myself that I could do it. Will I do it again? You bet!!!