I have, like in many previous years, decided to do NaNoWriMo. The book I’m going to be working on through November is one that brings together elements I’ve been planning for a long time – characters and scenes that have been in my thoughts and notebooks for months and in some cases years.
I’m feeling ready to write and so NaNoWriMo feels like the perfect time to get started. The idea of getting 50,000 words written feels daunting, particularly when I worked out I’m going to be away from home for 10 of the 30 days on November. I’ve decided therefore to have a personal goal separate to the NaNo total – if I get to the end of the month and have written 1,000 words every day I will have established an excellent writing habit and I’ll have the first 30,000 words of my novel. I think this is a great goal, and while I still will be aiming for the full 50K I know I will feel like I’ve achieved something if I hit that personal goal.
Regardless of whether I end the month with 30,000, 50,000 or something in between I definitely won’t be finishing the month with a finished first draft. I think it’s going to probably take at least December and January to get a full first draft. I’m using this first draft to explore my story and my characters and work out exactly what it is they have to say. I know where they’re starting, I know where they’re going to end up and I know a few of the things they’re going to be doing along the way. The rest of it I look forward to discovering as I write.
After last week’s great start this second week of writing felt a lot harder. It was my reading week from uni so other than going in to work I didn’t have any time specific commitments, so it should have been fairly easy to balance everything. Right? Wrong.
For whatever reason most days I found it hard to get the words down on paper. I didn’t manage to write every day and on those that did it felt like a slog more times than it felt like things were flowing. Over the weekend there were a few times when I got tempted to give up altogether. I’m experiencing one of my bouts of insomnia which is making everything harder at the moment, and I’m pretty sure I can’t keep going like this. I can easily see how my health could start to suffer and I know that I need to act now before things get that bad.
The only one thing I could give up would be NaNoWriMo, but the idea of giving it up is one that is making me very sad. So I’m compromising and I’m taking this next week off. I have uni deadlines to meet and I’m going away for what should be a great weekend, so for now I’m letting NaNo slip. Next week once I’m home again and have got back on my feet after the weekend’s exertions I shall think about starting again. It’s pretty unlikely that I’ll hit the 50,000 mark by the end of November, but I’m starting to realise that that doesn’t matter all that much. The achievement of actually telling this story is going to be reward enough, whether I finish the first draft on 30th November or some date a little later.
I think I should probably have written this after yesterday’s writing and before today’s so that it was actually after the first 7 days not 8, but I didn’t so never mind. Yes it’s been one week of writing, and what a week it’s been.
On the first day I woke up to discover that people were already finishing writing for the day with word counts in the thousands. I quickly accepted that everyone works differently, settled down to write and for the first four days averaged 2,500 words which was what I was aiming at. I figure that if I aim at 2,500 words then that would have me hit the 50K mark in 20 days, leaving me 10 days where I didn’t manage to write anything. Good job too as Saturday and Sunday saw my parents visiting and no words written at all.
Today I passed the 15K mark, so I’m fully on schedule when it comes to NaNoWriMo. However I’m way behind schedule on things like blogging, uni reading and pleasure reading! I came close to having a minor meltdown over this, but have worked out a plan of action that I think might help in the next week.
My wall is filled with post it notes (turns out the odd surface is great for them to stick to). There’s one for each of the six major characters, one with the names of all of the characters I have so far, and then a mass of them covered in the questions and research points I’m coming up with as I write. Rather than go back each day and answer these I’m numbering them all and they’ll hopefully make the basis of the next stage after I finish this first very very rough draft.
One of the major issues I’m having is that I’ve chosen a small Welsh island to set my book on, but I’ve never been to this island so don’t know a lot of the specifics. Unfortunately, thought quite understandably, it isn’t covered by Google Streetview so I’m working at the moment from basic maps. The island has a real assortment of buildings in varying states of decay on it, and quite an involved history so one thing I know for sure is that next year once the boats start sailing again next Spring I’m going to need a visit!
It’s 1st November which means it’s time to get writing on this year’s NaNoWriMo.
I’m feeling a real mixture of emotions – excitement, terror, enthusiasm and downright panic. I’ve been spending the last few days trying to get organised and prepared, this is something I’ve never really done before – I’ve always just dived in headfirst. In the hopes that having some sort of plan will help me to get through the month I’ve managed to pull together:
- A setting
- One basically developed character
- 5-6 unnamed characters
- The basic plot for the first 8-10K
- A handful of scenes to be included
- Approximately 80 minutes of soundtrack
I definitely feel like I can sit down today and start working. Ideally I would have liked to get a bit more of an idea of the characters but hopefully as I start to write they’ll become better formed. I’m also hoping that as I work through the basic plot that I have I’ll be able to add more to the plan.
I really hope that it might work out this way, and that I won’t be ready to throw in the towel by Friday!