As I mentioned last month, I tackled ‘NaNoWriMo’ (NaNo) this year. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, NaNo is National Novel Writing Month where, for the month of Novemeber, you try to write a novel.
As you can imagine, this is extremely difficult. To ‘win’ NaNo, you have to reach 50,000 words – and, let me tell you, that is a lot of words for 30 days. When you break it down, you have to write 1,667 words every day in order to reach the target. I, however, decided before writing that my goal was to have fun (due to university and work) and I set a personal target of 25k. I’ve never attempted NaNo before, but apparently this year was the year despite the fact that I have more work than ever and a new part-time job which I do all weekend every weekend.
It’s been kinda busy.
Not only did I have university work and my part-time job to contend with, but the past month I’ve been writing a lot for TLE and attending events (head on over to my portfolio if you’re interested plug plug plug plug). It’s safe to say that out of every year to do NaNo, this wasn’t the best one to choose. Then again, with that attitude, I’m sure I would have never started. The ‘might as well’ and ‘what’s the worst that can happen’ attitude worked like a dream.
The interesting thing about NaNo is that the main advice given is ‘keep going’. It doesn’t matter if what you’ve just written is absolute crap, you just have to keep writing and hit that word count. It gives people permission to just write without worrying that they’re not the next J.K Rowling. When I wrote for NaNo, it was with a completely different mindset than what I write for my creative writing class this term. For class I’m agonising over every word, changing my ideas and reworking sentences over until they have some kind of cadence or rhythm. For NaNo, I would just sit down and write whatever came to mind. Every now and then I would deicide ‘this is boring’ and change the scene entirely – one moment in particular that I remember is two people having a conversation, then because I didn’t know where to go from that I set everything on fire. Literally. The two people began arguing and ended up running for their lives. It was great.
Although I had several blocks during the month of not writing at all, I actually managed to get to 30k by the end of November – which I was ridiculously happy with. Not only that, but I actually like my story – a miracle in itself. I’m surprised to find that I’m looking forward to going back to it and expanding areas to explore some characters that I brushed over in my mad dash to reach my word count. It’s one of the first times I’ve written a story where I’ve actually felt seriously invested in my characters and their lives – which might seem strange, seeing as I’ve written hundreds and thousands (not even a slight exaggeration there) of story ideas. Although in the past I’ve liked my characters before, NaNo pushed me to keep writing and, when you can’t think of any action, you’re undoubtedly going to have some scenes where all you have is a character to develop. What I didn’t expect is for my secondary characters to take over the novel, up until the point where I kind of wanted to make it multi-perspective just so I could live in their heads for a bit.
So. NaNo has taught me a lot of things to do with writing and organisation and new responses to the question ‘how are you’ with gems such as ‘not bad, just killed some characters, how are you?’ among a tonne of other things. The best thing, I think, I’ve discovered is that even when I think that I can’t do anything more and that I’m knackered to the point that I just want to sleep for three days, I can still push myself to take on new things.
It’s been fun, NaNo. I’ll see you next year.