For those unfamiliar with “NaNoWriMo,” the letters stand for National Novel Writing Month, an annual challenge that takes place in November. The idea is you sign up at the website and commit to write 50,000 words, a complete first draft, in thirty days.
The mere thought of that many words in that short period of time has always made me slightly hysterical. Plus I always had a really good excuse for not participating. I was either on deadline for a work in progress, or edits were due, or I was working on an upcoming release… There simply wasn’t an opportunity to focus so completely on blasting out a first draft.
However, I’ve frequently “borrowed from the NaNo energy,” as I called it, to write more than usual. That was my plan for this year as well.
Several of my writing buddies announced they’d signed up. It still wasn’t enough to put myself through the stress. But then two things happened.
First, one of those writing buddies said she was doing NaNoWriMo as a distraction from everything going on in the country. A distraction. Hmm. That might work.
Second, near the end of October, I signed with an agent! And not only for the new series, but for the next Zoe Chambers Mystery too! She’s submitting a proposal based on the first three chapters and synopsis because the book itself isn’t finished.
Which brought me back to NaNoWriMo. While you’re supposed to start a new manuscript at the beginning, I didn’t see any mention on the website about NaNo police. No one would come knocking on my door to see what I was working on. Fatal Reunion, my Zoe WIP, was at 35,000 words and progressing at a snail’s pace. I estimated it would finish out at about 85,000 words. I may not be great at math, but even I can calculate I needed roughly 50,000 words to complete the manuscript.
The universe was speaking to me. And I took the hint.
As I’m writing this, I’m happy to report that I’m on track. In order to meet the 50K word goal, I need to average 1667 words per day. I’ve only missed the mark once, and having anticipated that slow day, I’d written extra words for several days prior.
It’s been easier than I anticipated. I have to turn off my inner editor. I’m using a lot of weak verbs and adverbs just to keep plowing ahead. I’ve hit research speed bumps and learned to type brackets as placeholders until I find the answers I need. And I’ve trained myself to keep pounding the keyboard even when I feel I’ve run out of things to say. Yes, the stuff I’m putting on the page is absolutely horrid. But it’s easier to fix words than to stare at a blank page.
Fellow Writers Who Kill, have you ever tried NaNoWriMo? If so, how did you do? And readers, have you ever taken on a challenge that felt overwhelming? Tell us about it.