Saturday, 3 December 2011

NaNoWriMo - now it is over it has only just started

I signed up for NaNoWriMo at the beginning of September - exactly three months ago.

I signed up on a whim. I had wondered about trying it the previous year but was conflicted as I was still intending to get re-started on Fallen Warriors. I got nowhere with Fallen Warriors and after I finished the Open University's Creative Writing Course in June stopped writing altogether.

That was okay over the summer as I had promised my family I would take a break but the break was showing no signs of leaving me feeling like writing. I was dry; dead inside. My creative spark had gone damp. I figured I might as well give NaNoWriMo a go. I had nothing to lose and my Fortieth birthday deadline for my three life goals was only getting closer.

I got the welcome email and began to relax. NaNo was all about just getting on with it. Writing without worrying about which word was going to come next. Writing without a care. Writing - and it's been a long time since I've done this - just for fun!

Is that allowed? Writing for fun? Why shouldn't it be. Isn't that why we do anything we really want to. Because we enjoy it; for the buzz?

I started to buzz. I began to have ideas; made plans; stayed up late writing when ideas took me.I started three new stories, even finished one of them. I produced 15,000 words. I wasn't writing every day but I was building up stamina, proving myself, finding out what I was capable of.

Then November started.

The first week went well. I even managed 2,600 words in two hours at the end of that week. I had written out twenty potential scenarios and ideas that could kickstart me if I struggled but I mostly didn't need them. I found that the vague characters that I'd envisaged before began to take shape. Events needed to happen that I hadn't considered before and while they may not survive to the final draft - they gave life to the characters and helped me believe in the world I was creating.

The second week was tougher. I took longer - found it harder to write without considering the implications. I didn't have longer but somehow in the third week got by. Churned out the word count at all costs. It was too much. Before the third week started had to admit that I needed to reprioritise. I focused more on my family and work and allowed myself to ease up. It helped. I got through that fourth week still ahead of where I needed to be and even caught up the weeks target on the Saturday.

I knew that there were gaps in the story. Things I had wanted to say but which I hadn't had time to consider. It didn't matter. I can add them in later. Maybe in the second draft. Maybe in the third or fourth...

I was worried I wouldn't finish the story. Was I going to hit the same wall I hit with Fallen Warriors? I really wanted to bring the story to a conclusion. I knew how I wanted to finish it but it was the how to get there that I struggled with. In the end I just brought things forward; made the events happen and suddenly I was writing the ending. It was revalatory - I began to remember other novels I've read where the ending happens in stages: short reveals. So this is how they do it...

Then my daughter was sick. Literally. I had to take an unexpected days leave that last Monday in November and in between looking after her I somehow managed to write 4,000 words and ended the story. NaNoWriMo was over.

Cue anti-climax, what do I do now...

I took the rest of the week off. Well, from writing anyway. I read a novel on my Kindle: Lee Child's Worth Dying For. First novel I've read in over a month. Took me a couple of chapters to stop editing it...

Ever since I've been Eight years old I've told people I'm going to be a writer. I'm not going to tell people that any more: in the end no-one out there cares if I say I'm going to be a writer. I'm not a writer if I say I am - I'm only a writer if I'm writing. This is probably the most important truth I've taken from NaNoWriMo.

I am a writer - I write every day.

I've been reading the NaNo pep talks, reading other NaNoers blogs and planning out the next ten years.

NaNo has taught me I can write a lot every day. I now believe I could write 5,000 words a day if I was writing full time. Holding down a job and family - I think 1,000 words a day is more than possible.

My new yearly target is 200,000 words a year. A lot of that will be through rewrites but that is okay. Each rewrite takes me a step closer to the ultimate goal - getting a novel published.

NaNoWriMo has helped me remember why I love to write; has helped me believe in myself as a writer. I highly recommend NaNoWriMo if you have any interest in writing... You don't even have to wait till next November - any month could be your NaNo month!

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