The point of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words in November. I’d dismissed it initially for a few reasons, one of which was a lack of time. So, I wrote some short stories, had one rejected by a couple of magazines (I was so proud) and had a vague plan to try a collection of short stories based around one family.
The idea of doing something more substantial was taking hold, partly thanks to this man but I was also worried that Lieutenant Franklin was going to be my only idea. That’s when ‘NaNo’ re-surfaced. I reworked the stories, expanded, planned, planned and planned again. Wrote an outline, sketched out characters, mapped out the sections and planned some more (given a choice I’d rather know what I’m facing). That took about 6 weeks of casual thinking and note taking.
Actually getting the first real words down on Nov 1st was much harder than I’d anticipated. I re-wrote that first sentence repeatedly, and will probably cut it completely in my present mood, but at least I started. The rest of the month was easier. 1,666.6 words a day seemed daunting but wasn’t that much of a problem*. I wrote everyday, an average of 500 words an hour (slightly better than the 5 I did that first night) and my PB was just over 4k, though I was cross-eyed by that point.
I’ve played in bands where the song seems to take on a life of its own and it was interesting to see it happen here. The significance of characters and events changed, people walked into the story and took over, others left and the setting slowly took shape. I also had to work out how much I could steal from friends’ lives without actually publishing their DoB and passport numbers and then fit the pieces together so it was colourful but not blinding.
I could probably have saved myself some work by editing as I went along but apparently that’s not the best way to go about it and I reasoned it was easier to remove rather than add later on. I’m not so sure now, some of these extras may have muddied the water and I suspect I might be too attached to certain scenes that don’t actually add anything.
All in all, I got much more out of it than I put in. Whether you are considering the official NaNo or doing your own stealth version another month, or even adapting the idea, I would recommend it to anyone. Even if you don’t have time.
* is this like saying ‘the weather’s nice’ or ‘traffic’s good’ – and have I just jinxed myself?