yesterday I passed the 50,000 word mark on NaNoWriMo, three days before the deadline, meaning that officially I have “won” NaNoWriMo 2017 – yes, that’s why things have been so quiet on the blogging front this month; I’ve been kinda busy writing and counting words…
For those not familiar with NaNoWriMo, I explained what it is, and what I was getting myself in for, in a post I wrote last month. Check it out here: NaNoWriMo – I’m Looking at You
Now this is the first time I’ve tried this marathon of the brain, and it has surprised me, not because I actually managed to write 50,000 words (I can be pretty dogged at times – just ask my husband), but in what I discovered along the way.
So here is a quick run down:
- That no matter how much you plot and plan (I spent the previous two months outlining and preparing for NaNoWriMo), there will be deviations in your story in ways you least expect. For example, while writing a key scene with a major supporting character, I realized this male character should be female – pity it took me all the way to the story’s climax to realize this, a few days before I finished. Major rewrite ahead.
- That no matter how much you prepare, life can, and will, throw curveballs at you, whether it be in the form of sick kids, unexpected work (who doesn’t need to put food on the table?), school and sporting commitments going into overdrive, and attacks on your health.
- I should have written some “side” and “back” scenes, as I like to call them, from the point of view of supporting characters before November 1st. I wrote these scenes two-thirds of the way through the month when I ground to a halt. Thankfully, they were instrumental in getting to really know my characters and helping to get me back on track to bring it all home. My original character outlines, it turns out, did not have enough depth.
- NaNoWriMo made me accountable to the only person who really mattered in all this: ME. It didn’t matter to my family and friends if I reached 50K or not, their opinion of me wouldn’t change in the slightest. But it mattered to me, my writing matters to me, so I was determined to see it through (there’s that dogged nature again).
- Saying that, the level of support I received from family (none are writers) was something I am eternally grateful for – okay, now this sounds like an acceptance speech. Hand me the tissues. But it’s true, especially from my husband. And given that he does not write nor fully understand through no fault of his own how HARD it is to write a novel at the best of times, makes me so appreciative of his willingness to pick up my slack while I banged my fingers (and, at times, my head) against the keyboard for twenty-seven days straight.
- The level of support from friends who are not writers. They know how important writing is to me and were there to cheer me on and encourage me to reach 50K, even if some thought I was crazy for trying 😉
- And, of course, the level of support from other writers, whether they are undertaking NaNoWriMo themselves or not. I already knew writers to be a generous bunch, but was still pleasantly surprised by the extent of the support and well wishes I received. For instance, I joined a Facebook group established by fellow Australian writer, Anna Spargo-Ryan, and the friendship and camaraderie that developed within this group in a very short time frame was priceless. We held virtual hands through bleak periods of self doubt, exchanged suggestions when writer’s block reared its ugly head, and cheered each other on when stepping-stone goals were achieved. Reaching the official 50K milestone became secondary to achieving individual goals, whether that be completing an emotional scene or getting back on track after a major plot setback. And now? We’ll support each other in finishing our manuscripts and through the rewrites and edits that, no doubt, must be done.
The community spirit I experienced through NaNoWriMo 2017 was the real win for me 🙂
So for all those NaNo’ing this year, I hope the experience has been an uplifting, and maybe a surprising, one for you.
And whether you write 50,000 or 5,000 words during November, you’re all awesome for giving it a go. There are many too fearful to try.
Next next time,