I think it was last December, so about a year ago, that I first discovered NaNoWriMo (thanks to all those #bookstagramers and #amwriters I follow on IG). I remember thinking that I wouldn’t want to feel so pressured to write; that if I couldn’t just be getting it done, then I wasn’t worthy, and no community of like-goaled bibliophiles would help, or some such nonsense.
Cue National Novel Writing Month 2017.
I had planned NOT to participate (see bad attitude pledge above), then three days before Novemeber hit, I said what the hell.
Best. Decision. Ever.
I forgot that I’m fairly competitive. I especially like to check off (or enter word counts to watch the graph move upwards) in order to see forward progress. There isn’t much opportunity anymore for this to be a thing, but NaNoWriMo gave me a platform, and I was running!
Those first days, I was right on pace, keeping on par with projected daily word counts. I knew I would be traveling for a week, so wanted to get a head of the game…
This didn’t happen. I remember sitting in the hotel room thinking, you need to drag your laptop out and get something written. But I didn’t. I languished in the slothlike relaxation vacations can sometimes bring out of us (let’s be real though- I’m kind of like that all the time).
But, when I got home, I knew I had work to do. I re-committed to finishing this thing, and I did! A few days early even!
As a fiction writer, there are days when the words just will not come but you have to force yourself to sit there, waiting for something, forcing words out, even if they come in patches of nonsense. Oh boy, did I have days like this and normally, I’d just walk away to some other task, telling myself I’d come back to it. But I never did. This is when writing stops being fun. This is when writing is more like work. This is when I’d typically take days, that turned into weeks that often turned into months, off from my work in progress. Thanks to NaNoWriMo, I couldn’t let this be an option.
But then there were two days in a row where the story just poured from me and I couldn’t keep up. If I hadn’t been forced to sit; if I hadn’t committed to this task, would I have found that flow? Would this book have taken me a year to write, instead of getting through two-thirds of it in a month? I’d like to believe I’d have done it, but history tells a different story… I really believe the days of forced work became days of easy flow.
Not to be completely redundant, but without this fantastic challenge I might not have even started this book, letting it move into perpetual tomorrow, as things tend to do. A true commitment to complete this task had me showing up, even when I didn’t really want to, even when the words weren’t flowing, even when I’d much rather have been catching up on Supernatural or The Flash…
It’s a first draft. Don’t overthink it.
Another thing this participation forced on me was to just get the words out. No editing as I go (that’s how I never made progress on book 1), just getting the story out. A literal vomi-of-words, if you will.
Sure, I’ve seen all the memes before, but this time I forced myself to believe them. It was something I had to say to myself on almost every occassion of sitting in front of the screen to force myself to move on rather than dwell on the semantics of a point. That’s what draft 2 is for. It’s the only reason I finished 50K in less than 30 days. I let myself vomit some crap in order to create the bigger picture. Crap sculpting come later…
Reading your first draft
The fun part is to come! That first read through where I get to laugh and doubt myself as if that’s the actual reason for a first draft. 😉
But, it’s part of the process, right? I’m ready for it. My doubt demons are unnaturally quiet after the accomplishment of, what was for me, a huge thing. I’m excited to sculpt crap.
- How was your NaNoWriMo?
- What’s your process like?