I bet you’re wondering why I’ve been so silent here (actually, I’d put money on the fact that that thought hasn’t even crossed your mind!). It’s because I’m trying to participate in NaNoWriMo, or, as it’s know in complete English, National Novel Writing Month.
I’ve signed up for the event in past years, but I only half-heartedly participated. This is because I knew that fast writing—50,000 words in one month, or about 1600 a day—just wasn’t my style. I plot as I go, and spend agonizing hours trying to figure out what happens next in my book. Will the characters fly to London? Will they go to dinner? Will they confront a thief? Will they have to deal with an incident at their child’s school? Is Grandpa gonna die?
So, while writing fast is theoretically easy for me—I’m typing this blog post in about five minutes—I can’t plot fast, thus, my writing is slow as that proverbial molasses. (Or treacle, if you’re British.)
I wish I could say that this time around, NaNo is working the way it’s supposed to, as a jog to creativity, but no, I haven’t suddenly discovered a way to regurgitate 1600 words a day with ease. However, NaNo IS working for me this time, although not the way it was intended. I’m finding the support from my NaNo buddies, who are checking in with each other on a private Yahoo group we belong to, to be invaluable in motivating me to press ahead. (I found the group here, at Outreach International RWA chapter.)
Before NaNo, there were days when I let the inertia build and build until writing anything was simply impossible. I was paralyzed with fear, fear I’d write the wrong thing and then OMG I’ve written the WRONG words and the WORLD WILL END or at least my novel will end badly. Now, I just ignore that voice telling me I’m writing the wrong thing, sending my characters in the wrong direction (yes, literally, London) and keep writing something. Not much—I’m only averaging about 500 words a day, with some days’ word count topping 1000, and other days equaling zero. Yet when I’m not actually writing—that is, most of the time—I’m thinking about the book, rearranging scenes in the running timeline (sort of like a half completed outline) and trying to figure out what is needed to fill in holes in the plot.
Yesterday I re-read what I’ve written so far (this is a book I’d started a long time ago, and already had around 35k words) and that gave me a better idea of where the book was going, and what sort of scenes it needed. While reading (and jotting notes) took most of the day, the time was well spent.
It’s hard work. This book is probably one that’s above my pay grade—I don’t have the skills, as a novelist, to weave together such a complicated plot (and sub-plot, which contains several other POV characters). It’s a more mainstream book—at least that’s how it’s presenting itself, and I will be as surprised as anyone at how it turns out.
So, my NaNo progress is much better this year, but I have to credit the encouragement I’ve found among other writers, and my reluctance to admit to having written absolutely nothing each day. NaNo’s word count calculator (a really nifty tool) tells me I’ll be finished, at this rate, with this novel on February 3. I’d love more than ANYTHING to finish by February 3, so if you don’t see me here until then, you’ll know what I’m doing.
That’s right, I’ll be killing Grandpa, on the way back from London.
Happy writing, and best of luck to my fellow NaNo-ers.