Okay, people. This will be short today because I can’t be wasting my word count on a blog post. Some of you are nodding because you understand. Some of you won’t read this post until December. I understand that too.
For those of you in the dark, I’m talking about NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month.
Like Veterans Day and Thanksgiving, it happens every November. You commit to writing a 50,000-word novel. That’s it. That’s all. It’s very simple. Right?! Can I get an AMEN?
This year I started off strong, mostly because my local chapter (WRW) had a first annual write-in on November 1st. My kids had soccer games and other activities previously scheduled. If I had followed the same pattern as every other November 1st, I probably wouldn’t have written a word that day. Instead, when Kathy Seidel opened her home to fifty chapter members, I jumped at the chance. I knew if I committed far enough in advance, I would follow through with my goal of starting the book. So I farmed out my kids for the day. I missed a soccer tournament and several of my other kids’ activities as well.
Did I feel guilty? Hell no! I wrote almost 3,000 words that first day, which kicked off a rather successful NaNo month for me.
Up until recently, that is. At 38,000 words, I’m starting to stumble. Starting to lose my way. Starting to think about all the plot points that don’t make sense. Starting to wonder how the hell I’m going to wrap this thing up.
It’s at this midway point where I start realizing all the things wrong with the plot. It’s usually at the midway point where I finally get a decent grasp of a character’s motivations, his or her personality, the setting, the tone. But the characters didn’t start out that way. So I have to gag my inner critic/editor who wants to rush back to the beginning and start fixing.
But I need to finish the damn book. I also have to obsess about word count. I have to keep refreshing that stats page on the NaNo website so I can watch the graph rise. (Admit it! You do it too!) I have to check out my writing buddies and see how they’re doing.
That inner editor itches to go back and start fixing the beginning. But if I do, I could potentially lose word count.
So I’m pressing ahead. I. Will. Finish. This. Book.
Normally, I wouldn’t be stressed about the potential awfulness of this first draft, but I have another problem. Her name is Margie Lawson. I signed up for an Immersion class beginning next week, hosted by Denny Mermaid, where we deep edit our story, and I plan to work on this NaNo book.
Now, I’m sure I can sift through the 50,000 words of the new book and come out with a few that are keepers, but usually large chunks hit the virtual trash can.
I set a goal for myself to finish this book before next Wednesday, which is a far cry from the other years, where I have generally slid under the finish line—dusty and tired—at the last minute. But what a ride!
Who’s doing NaNo this year? If so, how are you doing? Here’s your place to brag or seek commiseration. Here’s the place to admit you feel some word-count envy when you see your writing buddy’s graph rising every day when you stumble into your own road block.
When you do hit that writer’s block, reach out to your writing friends. Ask for help. A fifteen-minute brainstorming session could easily get you back on the right road. That’s what writing friends are for.