Last month, I did something I’d never done before: I wrote more than 50,000 words.
I finished NaNoWriMo on Thanksgiving morning–then collapsed into a happy little heap and ate Thanksgiving, went Black Friday shopping, and began gobbling up the books I had accumulated during the month.
I was under the impression that NaNoWriMo would easy and breezy and no one would be able to tear me away from my story. “Pep talks?” I scoffed as I perused the NaNo website. “I don’t need pep talks. Psh, I got this.”
I had no idea what I was getting into.
Day 2 of NaNo I almost quit. I hadn’t actually written a new story in over a year; my first drafts are very rough. It was painful watching myself murder the beautiful plot I had come up with. “This scene is supposed to cool and epic!” I would tell myself. “Why can’t you make it so?” All my writing buddies on the NaNo website were doing so much better than me.
The second night of November, my dad cheered me on just as I was about to quit. And then I made my decision: I was going to finish this book.
So I slogged through. And guess what? I really enjoyed the experience! Sure, writing is hard work. Most of the time the story didn’t just flow from my fingers onto the page. Some days I felt like I was writing the same 10 words over and over and again. There was a lot of staring blankly at my computer screen. I gobbled up those pep talks and tried to tune out my inner editor.
I think Stephanie Perkins described my experience best in her pep talk:
“There will be a time when your journey grows tough. The idea that seemed so shiny and cool in your head… doesn’t seem so shiny and cool on the page. It’s not quite what you had in mind. The rush and thrill of the adventure is fading, and reality—the time and work it’ll take to reach those 50,000 words—is sinking in.”
Her pep talk was my favorite.
My cheering squad helped a lot, of course: stuffed tempura and a derpy walrus.
Also, I had some pretty awesome writing buddies cheering me on. 🙂 Thanks, Caroline and Deborah!
Most of my writing happened at night (because I still had school and life and more school during the daytime); I discovered that I can comfortably churn out 1,000 words an hour. I also learned that fight scenes are hard to write…which became a problem since my book was a superhero story. Another thing I learned was that I hadn’t really developed my world. “Scifi should be fun, right?” I told myself. Um, no. It became to struggle to come up with something creative while not ripping off the Lunar Chronicles.
Did my story turn out like I thought it would? Yes, for the most part. The writing is a lot more rough than I though it would be, but I followed my plot. The world needs a LOT more development. At the beginning, I couldn’t decide if I would write in the present or past tense and kept flopping back and forth. So there’s definitely editing to do.
But I’m so happy I stuck with NaNoWriMo. Now I stand victorious on the other side of November, with a first draft actually written. It’s given me a creative boost. And despite how hard it was to eek out 1,666 words some days, I’m not fed up with writing. I actually miss it now; my evenings feel empty.
So if you’re thinking about doing NaNo next year, but aren’t sure, you should go for it. You CAN do NaNo and school and other stuff at the same time. Sure, I had to sacrifice some things, like skipping Agents of SHIELD and waiting to read books I had preordered. BUT IT WAS SO WORTH IT. November was an awesome month.
How about you guys? Did any of you do NaNo? How did it go? I’d love to hear all about it!