This week I took the plunge and signed up for my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). The challenge — and readers of this blog might be aware I love a challenge — is to write 50,000 words of a novel during the 30 days of November. (Technically the challenge is to write a new 50,000 word novel from scratch, but I’m going to be working on my existing WIP.)
Okay, that’s a lot of words.
If you break it down, it comes to ~1700 words per day. Considering I set out at the start of this year to write 500 words a day, and bombed out sometime in February, one would be forgiven for thinking I’ve gone mad.
Actually, I think I have gone mad.
But I’m also excited. And I can’t wait to get started. For the first time ever, I feel I have a shot at achieving this massive task.
Over the past month I’ve been trying out a different mode of writing. Instead of attempting to write a ‘perfect’ first draft, I’ve adopted the ‘rough’ first draft approach. I’m embracing clunky phrasing, sketchy descriptions, bad dialogue — and just focusing on getting the story down.
This probably sounds obvious to many people reading this, but I’ve never had much luck with writing this way. I think I’m finding it possible now, because I’m planning out each scene before I write it. This can take a little while, but it seems to be keeping the story on track. The upshot is I’m writing a lot faster (like, 3-4 times faster) and I’m scrapping less. It’s win-win.
It’s true the writing is rough and will need a really good edit-slash-rewrite… but since I tend to do that to ‘perfect’ first drafts anyway — because they’re clearly not perfect — I’m still winning.
The other key point is that I’m in a really good head space at the moment. I’ve managed to rediscover my joy after 18 months in the wilderness, and my mojo is back. I know where the novel is heading and I’m excited about it.
So if there was ever a time for me to tackle NaNoWriMo it’s now.
I know it’s going to be tough. It’s one thing to slam out 2000 words on a Saturday afternoon after plotting and storyboarding with pals in the cafe. It will be quite another to produce nearly 2000 words every day for a month.
In addition to the daily slab of time, there’s the energy and creativity needed to keep making stuff up. 50,000 words is half a fantasy novel, thereabouts. That’s a lot of story to come up with in a single month.
To achieve this, I must:
- Get plenty of sleep. This is going to be essential. I will need to be very disciplined about this.
- Minimise TV viewing. This will be a challenge, but I suspect my hard disk recorder will get a workout.
- Minimise social network activity, maybe except for NaNoWriMo discussions.
- Be organised with meals. There won’t be much cooking happening after the dayjob, but there’ll be much reheating.
- Limit dayjob hours!
So that’s the plan. Daunting, huh? And yet I’m still excited. I want to see how far I can push myself.
And even if I don’t get to 50K, so long as I give it a red hot go I won’t be disappointed. Besides, I’d truly be happy to produce even 20K on my WIP in a month. Bring on November!
On the subject of challenges: who reading this likes taking them on, and what drives you to do so?