Impressions of NaNoWriMo from a First Timer #2

The buzz around National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo or henceforth NaNo) is that Week 2 is one of the hardest weeks to finish. Participants who drop out are more likely to do it in Week 2, and I have to admit I’m feeling the pressure.

I’ve done my best to write every day. Some days are far lower than the 830 of Week 1, but they’re words on a page. (After I come out of November, I’ll let you know if “words on a page” is something I’m happy to have.)

The biggest hurdle for the challenge of writing 50,000 words in 30 days came last Thursday. It was my first real challenge of balancing writing and life. You see, I intern at a local museum on Thursdays  and it happened that that Thursday I started a new project to fix old files by adding periods and deleting unnecessary letters to the file names all day.

quill-driver: noun. a person whose job involves writing, especially of a repetitious or tedious nature; a hack writer; a clerk.

From Oxford English Dictionary

When I sat down to write that night for NaNo, I was surprised at how frustrated I felt after adding periods for 5 ½ hours, and, of course, my frustration came out in my writing.

Oh, those poor characters. The tone of the story changed from serious to farcical. I turned the main character and her friends into fools banging their swords against a castle wall believing they could break it down with their steely might. Their pantomimes would have fit perfectly with the exploits of Don Quixote.

To top it off, even if they did manage to get through the wall, they would have gone in a completely different direction than where the story led. As I have learned from NaNo, I am not a person who writes by the seat of her pants for long works. If I expect to write 2,500 words a day to meet a quota, then I have to pre-plan or pre-write to get into the character’s mindset.

After writing 728 words on Day 7 and reflecting on what needed to be written for the next day, I decided to scrap the scene. Now NaNo’s premise stipulates that a writer needs to quell the inner-editor to keep moving forward and win the grand prize of a finished novel, but in all good faith I couldn’t get past that scene. So, I broke the rules, rewrote the 728 words on Day 8, and managed to put down an additional 415 for that day. In total, I wrote 1143 words on Day 8.

I chose to keep the 728 words logged in to NaNo’s word counter because I didn’t want to erase the record of what I had learned that day. However, my melancholy at seeing 415 for Day 8 held up the wind I was sailing on from Week 1. I felt less motivated with each passing day to sit and write. Instead I took to my family to occupy the time I would have normally cranked out a thousand words or worked on my copy editing certification.

Come Monday without having moved very far in my word counts, I decided to go back to what had worked before and plan out the rest of the month to see what needed to be done. November was packed because I had a set of previous commitments that blocked out Week 4 from my writing schedule. As a result, I needed to complete the coursework and submit the final exam for my copy editing class a week early in Week 3, the next assignment for the Institute of Children’s Literature (ICL) was also due in Week 3, several mini-projects needed completion before November ended and NaNo also needed to be mostly done by Week 3.

It was a lot for one month and I was out of practice for hitting personal deadlines. But I relooked at the time left in November and, if I asked for an extension for the ICL assignment and shifted my writing times, succeeding at NaNo and my other November projects would still be perfectly doable.

I wanted NaNo and November to be a challenge to see what I’m capable of as a writer, and I’m finally writing every single day. It’s hard, but I’m writing. Who could ask for more?

Here’s my daily word count for NaNo so far:

Day 1: 2960

Day 2: the 830

Day 3: 3023

Day 4: 2371

Day 5: 2017

Day 6: 3211

Day 7: 728

Day 8: 415

Day 9: 1656

Day 10: 509

Day 11: 667

Day 12: 2703

Total: 21090

~ Until Tomorrow

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