NaNoWriMo – noun
- National Novel Writing Month, in which writers the world over pledge to write 50,000 words of a novel in one month.
- thirty days of writers everywhere pulling their hair out, ruining their sleep schedules, eating piles of junk food, and drinking their body weight in caffeine, all in the pursuit of a story.
This was the first year that I participated in November’s NaNoWriMo (I have previously participated in the April Camp NaNoWriMo) and I decided to write the second draft of my current main novel idea (an Arabian fantasy). And I am ECSTATIC to announce that I WON.
Because my final word count was 100,321 words!
I finished the first draft in June 2018, and since then have been editing, and brainstorming, and writing backstories, and character profiles, and scene outlines, and building the world, and everything in it. Honestly, it has been an intense 16 months. But it has paid off, because I finished the second draft and it is MILES better than the first one. I’m really happy with it.
There are a few reasons I won this year’s NaNoWriMo.
Firstly, I had the opportunity of making writing my priority. I was not working, and had literally all day, every day, to write. And because I spent all day writing, I could take time off at night. Which was wonderful for my brain. Writing was basically my full-time job and, well, that is the dream. (Though it’d be ten times better if, in future, someone actually paid me for it. Anyone want to volunteer?) So, because of this, reaching a high word count was made a lot easier. Of course, this is not always possible, and one of the main reasons I haven’t tried NaNoWriMo before this year. I’m very grateful I had the ability to do it this year, and if you ever find yourself with a less busy November than usual, I’d recommend trying it out.
The second thing was that I planned the draft almost to a T. Like I said, I’ve been preparing for this for months upon months – sometimes religiously, other times once a week or fortnight. But what really centred and focused all my thoughts as November was creeping closer was a scene card template that I found, thanks to this YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_USdExzvKo
In it, Abbie shows how she uses these scene card templates to detail every scene/chapter and all the important bits that must be remembered. During October, I used these templates to outline each scene, and it really helped clear my head, and calm my overwhelmed brain. Because writing is tough. There are a hundred and one things to remember and characters to create and a world to build that makes sense and story arcs and backstories and plot points and foreshadowing scenes and great lines, and then you have to make sure it’s entertaining on top of all of that. It’s insane! But these templates really helped me focus my ideas, and keep everything straight in my head. So when it came to November, and Day One of NaNoWriMo, all I had to do was load up my scene outlines and focus on one chapter at a time. It was great.
Another thing I did to prepare was load up Scrivener with Inspo Pics, and notes to remember about the world and magic system, and character profiles, too. I wanted to make sure everything was in one place to minimise distractions as much as possible. My Scrivener file had all the information that I needed to know, so I very rarely had to search online for anything. I highly recommend this, because when you’re in the writing zone, having to open up Safari or Chrome can really kill the mood.
Now, all this is not to say that I didn’t struggle. Because boy, did I! Writing is hard guys. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, and again. It is not for the fainthearted. There were a few times during November where I had to add scenes on the spot – to combat lack of action, or to add depth – and there were some chapters that needed to be turned upside down. And then two chapters really close to the end almost destroyed me completely – pushed me to only inches away from throwing in the towel and quitting. Giving in and giving up on the whole story, even though I was over 80k words in.
But I persevered. I pushed through the pain, the exhaustion, the mental strain. Every part of me was telling me to stop, that it had had enough. But I kept going because a tiny voice in my head kept saying, “if you don’t do it now, you never will.” And even if this dream of mine never eventuates, even if I never get to hold a finished copy of my own published book in my hand, I won’t care, as long as I know in myself that I truly tried my hardest, and gave it everything I had.
And this was the first step. I finished the first draft. And I kept going. And now I have a second draft that is far better than its predecessor.
I have yet to return to my Scrivener file since November 30th. The plan is to stay away from it for a while, and then return with fresh eyes. And maybe, when I do, I will think that it’s terrible, and makes no sense, and definitely cannot be published. But at least it’s done.
The first draft was written over 5 months, with a total of 123k words. But this November, I wrote over 100k words. In one month. That is my biggest achievement to date. And nothing is going to sour it for me.
There you have it. My NaNoWriMo 2019 experience. I’m so glad it had a happy ending because there were times it felt I would never get there. I thought I’d write about it to commemorate the achievement. I hope that one day this draft will become book-shaped. What a dream that would be.
Did you participate in NaNoWriMo this year? Let me know how you went, if you did. Or tell me about any other achievements that you’ve had recently. It is always important to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small you think other people may view them as. Your hard work and pride is never inconsequential.
Well then. Ciao 4 Now.