I went into NaNoWriMo with my mind full of trepidation and excitement at the same time. It felt like the night before I went to college. I honestly wanted to find out if I had it in me to write 50,000 words in a month. Being as I usually write slowly, I had my doubts. However, I can be very determined… or stubborn. Take your pick.
The first few days were easy. I was ambitious enough to imagine myself writing 2,000 words a day. Right. My fingers flew over the keyboard, jacking up the wordcount… until the weekend hit. If there is one thing that will always get in the way of writing, it is the real world. It is both the biggest inspiration for and the biggest distraction from writing. Need ideas? Look around you. It’s out there –– along with about eighteen bajillion other things that need your attention right now.
The second week, I was falling behind again. I didn’t panic… yet. I still had what, three weeks left? Yeah, plenty of time… right? Ha. If not for my writing buddies egging me on, I might have dropped it right there.
Week 3, I hit a block. This happens all the time. I’ll tell you my weakness: Even if I’ve outlined everything, there’s still that thought of “but how do we get there?” It has taken me the longest time to learn that these moments are when you just write. Push through and get words on the page. Who cares if they’ll have to be cut later? There’s always the rewrite. Did I panic? Absolutely.
And then, a delightful thing happened at about week 3.5. I’d just been whining about needed monkey wrenches in my plot (it felt too… normal), when a whole toolbox of monkey wrenches got tossed in. It was like Christmas, aside from the lack of chocolate. It saved me, and it really added to my wordcount… once I pushed away all thoughts of, “Dear God, the editing on this will be horrible.”
Week 4 was/is probably the most wild of all. One minute, I would be ecstatic that I was ahead, and then the clock would hit midnight, and I’d sigh, suddenly behind where I wanted to be. Mind you, this is a writing marathon, and I know I cannot write 50,000 words in a day (unless some crazy miracle happens where I do not tire, find no distractions, and coffee is fed to me through an IV, etc.). What really saved me this week were the actions of my characters. Let me explain.
To a non-writer, it seems like a writer should have complete control over the story. To a writer, this concept is laughable. While a fictional person is not real, they do seem to have just as much of a choice in the matter as a real person would with their own life. Honestly, it’s bizarre, but this is how the best writing happens. The characters flip the tables on the author and say, “This is what I want, and you aren’t going to try to change it, or I won’t cooperate anymore!” Next thing you know, your uber-macho commando is crying because someone stole his teddy bear eight years ago, and he’s finally letting his emotions to rise to the surface (Okay, that did NOT happen in my story!). Oh, joy.
As for the final 1,000-2,000 words, let me just say… the homestretch is always the worst part. It should be easy, but it took me hours to get those words in. The last 250 were the worst. It was, essentially, hack writing. If there is anything I hate, it is producing short summaries of big chunks of time, using pronouns to the extreme, and writing anything less than quality work. I wanted to pull my hair out. But I wrote those words. Yes, I did.
The moment after the last few words felt surreal. Though the hour was late, I could not bring myself to go to bed, and the first thing on my mind was, “I must edit… I must edit…” I have so many scenes to add in, expand on, etc. Had I really just written what my computer claimed to be over 100 pages? How was this possible? And what insanity drew me into this anyway?
But… I have to admit… I now have the first draft of a work that will be spectacular when I have it nicely polished off, ready to be picked from the shelf by
an unsuspecting victim a potential reader. And I doubt that I would have it if I hadn’t been dared to write a novel in a month…