As readers may or may not be aware, November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The basic idea is writing 50,000 words of a novel in one month. This is technically my third year doing NaNoWriMo, but really my second. The first time around, I reached my 50k goal, was enjoying my novel... and haven't touched it since. I'd gotten to a tricky part in the plot and had no idea where it was going. Plus it was the end of the month. So that just sort of fell apart.
This year, I have once again reached my 50k target, on a different novel, and here early in Holidailies seemed like a good time to reflect on this year's project.
1) There's something beautiful about just getting started. I decided to write a fantasy novel this year. I've had some of the ideas for this novel and for the larger world for a solid decade or two. I've wanted to write it, but I've also avoided writing it, because I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted to outline the plot, I wanted to spend more time creating the details of the world. And the truth is: I could probably have spent the next 50 years putting off writing this novel, assuming I live that long. So yes: there's something beautiful about just getting started.
2) Going along with #1, once you get started, it's wonderful the way that imagination fills in the details between the broad strokes of what you already knew. Part of this magic, though, I think, came from the devotion that I gave the work, the way that kept my focus on the novel. Part of my normal daily pattern is to listen to podcasts. I love podcasts! I listen to them while walking the dog, working out, driving, just about anything that might be "down time." Instead, for most of the month, I refrained from listening to podcasts, and instead thought about my novel. And one result, particularly during the first half of the month, was that I was able to very efficient with my writing time, because I already knew most or all of what I wanted to write when I sat down to write--the plot, the characters, the scenes, even in some cases the particular words I wanted to use. That was the magic of focusing my attention so thoroughly on one end.
3) All the trackers and stuff are really motivating. There's just something about having a website where I go and log my progress, a website that tells me what my average per day is, a website that's visible to other people (who, granted, don't actually care whether I finish or not)... it really helps keep me focused. Reinforcing this point: in the four days since, I haven't written a word on my novel. Which is unfortunate, because I'm pretty sure that 50k only puts me about a quarter of the way through. So, I would need three more months of that level of focus to finish the novel. ::Sigh::
4) The community is and is not motivating. In past years, the on-line community has been more active. This year, not so much. And yet, I got through. On the other hand, I did benefit from a real-life writing group that met a few Sundays throughout the month. And that was helpful both for the way that it scheduled a block of time and, I don't know, kind of gave me permission to spend three hours writing on a Sunday.
All in all, it was a good month. Now I've just got to get myself sorted out to finish what I've started. By the way, in case it isn't obvious, even when I get to, say, 200k, that's just going to be 200k of a rough--very rough, no doubt--draft. Then it will be time to re-write, write some more... so yeah. It's a big commitment writing a doorstopper of a fantasy novel. Wish me luck!