I did it. I wrote 50,000 words in a month. It helps that I call my first drafts “word vomit” and pretty much just vomit all over the page, which lends for quick drafts of questionable quality. It’s how I plot as a pantser, I need to get it all out first and then tweak.
NaNoWriMo—the pledge to write 50,000 words in a month—brought this word vomit to a whole new level. I felt pressure to win, because I knew I could.
Last week I blogged about struggling with my original story idea before finally abandoning it. Under any other circumstances, I would have dropped my original story and switched to an editing project. But I had pledged and I needed to win! It turned into an obsession for me. I’d already won camp, but November was more official and I wanted that winning boast on my shelf.
So I kept going. I pushed myself as far as I could in draft one, before switching to a different draft and pushing that. All the while my personal life got a little crazy and completely distracted me from the words.
Again, under any other circumstances, I would have turned to reading and movie watching. But I needed that win! So onward I pushed.
The new draft made the goal easier to achieve. Even at the end, when I needed more research to really get the novel churning, I could still find a way to write a few more paragraphs.
What have I learned in this process?
- I’m a bit obsessive with deadlines. That’s good and that’s bad.
- It’s easier when you have some heart in the project. I know I’ve read others state that you have to keep going. I disagree. If it’s hard but you can still connect to the work: yes, absolutely keep going. But it’s also okay to acknowledge the project no longer meshed the way it needed to.
- Don’t edit as you go, unless you are adding words. No reason to shoot yourself in the foot, your internal editor will catch the same silly issues the second time around. And if you fear it won’t, there is always the comment feature.
- There is something quite satisfying about seeing the chart rising, and staying, above the goal line. For me. Others simply enjoy seeing it rise. Regardless, it’s another way to pat oneself on the back for a job well done.
- One word or a thousand words: it’s progress. And sometimes when the pressure is on, those single words prove you are still in the game, fighting to win.
- At the end of the month, it’s okay to put the story down and let it breathe. Under normal circumstances, I like to get to the ending before I stop. But as I mentioned above, life is a little crazy right now, and I need my time spent elsewhere.
- And a completely random one: when downloading a motivational meme, the screensaver program will display it first every time, to ensure the guilt is pressed high:
Will I do NaNo again? Possibly. November is a challenge for me in general. If I end up with another year where I know I have the time, and I’m in-between projects, you bet I’ll be here trying to win again. And maybe now that I’ve won, I’ll let myself fall behind if life gets in the way.
Oh, who am I kidding? I’m in it to win. If I sign up next year, I’m going the distance!