It’s November and that means it’s National Novel Writing Month. This is my second year participating in NaNoWriMo. I didn’t really have a goal last year, I only decided to participate after the contest had already started and I’d didn’t really focus on it as much as I should have. Despite all that, it was still a good learning experience for me.
This year I’m taking it more seriously. I may not make it to 50,000 words and win, but I’m at least going to dedicate time nightly to giving it a real shot.
Today is day seven, and so far I’ve been doing OK, which means much much better than last year but not as good as I’d like. The first three nights, I got a late start and generally didn’t sit down to write until around 11:30 or later. I’ve also be recovering from being sick, so I’ve only been able to spend about an hour each night before staggering off to bed. The first night I struggled to even get the 603 words down, and the second night was not much better. The third night ended with me getting stuck at the first major plot point of the book, it’s the event that initiates the major conflict of the story, and I just couldn’t figure out how to get it started.
So on day four, I was 3000 words behind where I needed to be, stuck on the plot, and just not sure how to move forward. I didn’t want to take a night off from writing though, because I knew that would break my momentum and likely turn into two nights off, or a week, and before I’d realize it there would be no catching up. Instead of just staring a my screen, I decided to change tactics. I started a new text file and started writing the first thing that popped into my head, which turned out to be a monologue by my main character. While writing like this I came up with how to get around the plot issue I was dealing with. The other thing that happened, is my brainstorming session turned into my story. After an hour and a half, I had 900-ish words and had actually moved the story past where I’d been in my previous writing.
This was great, since I’d finally found a good head-space to write from, but it did mean dumping the 2000 some words I’d written in the first three days from a third-person perspective and starting over with what I’d done in first-person from day four. Decisions decisions.
In the end, I decided to stick with the first-person work I’d done and since then I’ve managed to catch up and pass my original count and hit 3639 words.
I’ve kind of broken a rule of NaNoWriMo by starting over, since what I ended up doing was basically a rewrite. The general idea is just to keep plunging forward and leave any changes for after the 30th, but I hadn’t intended to do more than just type out some thoughts in an effort to work through my plot a bit. I’m still not rereading anything I’ve written or changing anything except for the occasional typo.
In case you’re curious, I’m working in WriteMonkey and using DropBox to keep the text file automatically backed up. I’m keeping notes in Google Docs. I’m reading Chris Baty’s No Plot, No Problem and Doyce Testerman’s This is How I Get It Done for advice and motivation. I have a copy of Lawrence Watt-Evans’ Second Draft printed and hanging above my monitor.