In case it’s your first time stumbling across my blog, and you’re like “NaNo-what?”, it’s short for National Novel Writing Month (which is November). Writers sign up through nanowrimo.org, and starting on November first, they each must write a 50,000-word novel from scratch by November 30th.
In 2012, I thought everyone who participated was crazy. Then last year, I turned into one of those crazy people and wrote 80,000 words by the end of November, and I finished the first draft of that novel in early February. I didn’t know whether I would participate again this year, although my first time was an amazing experience. It just wasn’t one I was sure I could replicate.
Then in the spring, I had an idea for a new novel, but the problem was: could I wait until November? I did discover a way around that problem (read about it here), but as the summer months came and went, I realized that what I really wanted to write this year was the sequel for last year’s NaNo novel. And so when November rolled around, I was ready. Sort of.
Actually, I was stressing over editing the first novel. There were some problems with the end that I had to resolve before being able to start book two. So November first found me making those final changes, and I started NaNoWriMo 2014 with a bang. I wrote over 4000 words, which put me ahead of the game (you need to write 1667 words per day to finish on time, but my personal goal was 2000).
Unfortunately, it was well before the dreaded second week slump that I had my own personal slump. This year, although I enjoyed the writing process, it was a completely different experience than last year. Many days, I struggled to achieve my word count goal, and a couple nights, I didn’t come anywhere close.
It was one day last week when I confided to my husband that I’d finally reached a scene with some action – about 38,000 words in. What that means is that when I go back to edit, I’m going to have to cut out a lot of deadwood. I joked that it would end up being a two chapter novel when I got done with it.
The wonderful thing is that, after that point, I had a much easier time writing this book. If I were able to average 2000 words a day, that would put me at 60,000 words at the end of the month. And as of November 30th, I actually had 61K. The last 20,000 words were the easiest for me to write; it only took me to the end of the month to find my stride.
As with last year, my goal now is to finish the novel. Last year’s novel ended up being 148,000 words, which I have now cut down to 99,000. Still long for a the young adult genre, but it’s a lot tighter than it was. As for this one, I will be surprised if it’s longer than 80,000 words. I hope to finish it by the end of December, if at all possible, and then start editing.
I’m not about to fool myself that this one will be any easier to edit. After having such a hard time finding my momentum, it’s going to need some serious work. But yet again, CreateSpace is offering two free copies to all NaNoWriMo winners who submit by June 30th (see all the winner goodies here). And unlike last year, when I submitted so late that I didn’t have time to fix a submission issue before the deadline, I plan to make it ahead of schedule and actually get those two books for free.
How about the rest of you? Did you struggle like me and keep plugging away? Did you realize your idea wasn’t what you thought and scrap it halfway through? Or did you surpass all your goals and end up with a monster novel on your hands at the end of the month?
And for those of you who still don’t know if you can handle a project of this magnitude, I encourage you to consider signing up next year. And there are a couple opportunities before November when you can sign up for Camp NaNoWriMo and warm up those writing muscles. Why not? You might discover you have some unexpected literary tricks up your sleeves.