In case you didn’t know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. I didn’t, not until a few months ago, even though I’ve been writing seriously for several years now. But this year I decided to take up the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words of a novel in one calendar month. That’s one thousand, six hundred and sixty six and two thirds words a day (though I believe you are allowed to round that two-thirds up, if you like).
I already have one novel under my belt, but as my friends and family know all too well, it took me a long time to write it. You know you’ve been working on something for too long when people start being afraid to ask you how it’s going. I’ve recently been working on some short stories, but I decided that the challenge of NaNoWriMo was too good an opportunity to pass up on.
50,000 words in a month is a daunting target, but the thought of having 50,000 words of a novel under my belt after the month is over is quite compelling. I already had a novel that I wanted to write (the first part of a trilogy, in fact), with all the major plot points of the storyline mapped out, so there was nothing to stop me from getting cracking on the book, except the usual procrastination and inertia, and overcoming these things is precisely what NaNoWriMo is all about.
The story I am writing is about a twelve-year old girl called Izzy who has just been in a serious car accident in which her mother was killed. The head injuries she sustained in the crash have altered her brain in some way, and she begins to see visions of a strange alien world parallel to our own. Eventually, she finds that she can slip through to this other world, where she meets and befriends a young girl from a race of underground dwelling creatures. Their friendship blossoms as Izzy enjoys the delights of her young friend’s world, but then tragedy strikes, and her friend’s mother is taken into slavery by the other race of creatures that lives nearby. Understanding how awful it is to lose your own mother, Izzy is determined to use her special ability to slip between worlds to mount a daring rescue attempt.
So, after one week, how is it going?
On the whole, very well so far. At the end of the first seven days, I have exactly 12,406 words written which is several hundred words ahead of the interim target of 11,667. The motivation of NaNoWriMo to get something written every day is working well for me. Although I love creating stories, the actual task of writing doesn’t come easy for me, so the additional motivation of having a daily target to aim for has been extremely beneficial. There have already been a couple of days when I have thought “Oh I can’t be bothered with this,” and I think that without extra NaNoWriMo impetus to help push me along, I suspect I may have given up already.
One of the difficulties for me is that I like editing my writing as I go along. When writing my previous novel, I would always spend a lot of time going back over and editing the previous day’s work before writing anything new. Sometimes that would take a long time, and the same section would be rewritten two or three times by the time I was ready to move on. When you’re writing 50,000 words in a month, that’s not really possible (not at the speed I write, anyway). So as painful as it is to read back some of the stuff I have already written, I have to resist the temptation to spend lots of time editing it and just press onwards instead. After all, there is always National Novel Editing Month (NaNoEdMo) next March.
I am concerned about the quality of the first draft that I will end up with. Already, I know that I have left out all sorts of details about the main characters and their lives and back-stories. I also find descriptive passages very difficult to write, and when your novel includes scenes from an underground alien world filled with all kinds of strange delights, reflecting all that successfully in the first draft is almost impossible. I also suspect many of the names of characters and places will be changing after the first draft once I’ve had longer to consider them.
I do tend to be quite long-winded. That’s great for keeping the word count up, but I suspect that by the time 50,000 words comes along, there will still be a long way to go before the end of the novel. I’m not too concerned about that since I believe that once I get that far in, I will have developed enough momentum to get the thing finished, even if it takes a while longer.
To sum up, yes, it’s going very well so far. Of course, I’ve just spent an couple of hours writing and editing a thousand word blog post about NaNoWriMo; time which I could have used to write another thousand words of the novel, but after a short break from the keyboard, I should be ready to embark upon the next 11,667 words of my forthcoming, smash-hit middle-grade fantasy novel!
Come back next week for the next installment of my NaNoWriMo experience.