So, I completed NaNoWriMo 2012. I have a funky badge to prove it – look:
I also have a Scrivener project that is 54,127 words long and impossible to summarise. I am using the excuse that the novel isn’t actually finished as my reason my I am unable to describe what it is about without making it sound epically confusing and not particularly good. I’m not sure what my excuse is going to be when I actually finish it.
Taking part in NaNoWriMo taught me a lot:
I am capable of writing a novel. For all I am a graduate in Creative Writing, I have never been very good at finishing things longer than about 20,000 words. Partly because I have new ideas and move on because the new idea is always more exciting than the old one and partly because I have always had a tendency to give up when the going got tough.
NaNoWriMo has made me realise that I can write a novel all the way through. I can stick out the tough bits, wade through the boring bits and break that infamous 20,000 word slump. All I need is a bit of willpower (and, it seems, a deadline and a graph showing me just how far behind target I am) and I can do it.
I need to plan properly. Before NaNoWriMo kicked off on November 1st, I spent quite a lot of time planning and plotting out my story. I wrote a loose chapter plan, researched mythical creatures for my ‘bad guys’, read folk tales and legends and looked at lots and lots of photographs of dogs. That meant that when I got to sticky bits whilst I was writing I could look at where I needed to go next for a bit of direction, or even skip forward to an exciting scene that I really wanted to write and then go back afterwards and fill in the gaps.
I wrote some of my favourite bits that way. I got really stuck, had no inspiration or clue what to write so I jumped forward and wrote another bit and during that part I would back reference an even that hadn’t happened and think to myself ‘Oh! So that’s what they get up to in that bit!’ and go back and fill it all in. Sometimes you have to let your characters do the story-telling and let yourself be the messenger, not the director.
Hitting that validate button on the NaNoWriMo website and turning my word count bar into a shiny purple ‘WINNER!’ announcement was a MASSIVE buzz and I even printed off the official certificate and stuck it up on the wall and ordered myself the official winner’s t-shirt because I did it. I went away for a weekend, the kids and I have been ill, I have still done all the things I normally do and I still managed to write 50,000 words in just 30 days.
I feel like I am allowed to be just a tiny bit proud of myself.
Faerie or No is not finished. It turns out that 50,000 words, or even 54,000 words are not enough to tell Eóghan and George’s story. I’ve come too far with them now to just give up on them though so I need to carry on. But how to keep up the motivation now my NaNoWriMo word count graph is redundant? Easy, I have signed up for the 750 Words December Challenge.
The premise of this one is simple – 750 words is approximately 3 pages of a paperback book. The challenge is to write those three pages every day. It doesn’t all have to be one project like NaNo. It doesn’t even have to be fiction. Or comprehensive. You just need to write 750 words every day.
I am going to use it to finish my novel, but I am also going to count my blog posts and anything else I write because it gives me a counter of just how much I put down on paper (or screen) and I find that little (or sometimes not-so-little) number quite fascinating.
Hopefully I will have Faerie or No finished before Christmas. If I don’t Liberty will probably beat me up.
Wish me luck!