I have decided to record my 2018 NaNoWriMo journey in a blog post.
November is National Novel Writing month (NaNoWriMo) and by signing up to the contest you agree to write 50,000 words in a month.
So, here is what happened in a diary style format:
- 7.24 A.M. 1 November. I was busy eating my granola and at the same time telling my teenage daughters where they could find clean school uniform in the laundry pile. As I like to multi task, I was also thinking about how I was going to use a previously ditched story for NaNoWriMo later that day and I was sending out love vibes to the dog, who was looking regal and handsome at the other side of the kitchen. So, all this was going on when my brain went PING. A new story idea, appeared inside my head, causing me to choke on my granola, spew my tea and cause my teenage daughters to roll their mascara clad eyes.
- 8.24 A.M. 1 November. Whilst stuck in a traffic jam, en route to my day job, my brain started to inspect the story parts. The arrival of a new story idea for me can be likened to the delivery of a flat pack furniture package. Sometimes there are instructions on how to put the story together and some days I just get, what feels like, a cardboard box, some odd-shaped pieces of wood and a few screws. Anyway, on this particular day I was lucky as the flat packed story idea came with some instructions. By the time I had reached Cardiff city centre, I had a good idea of how it was to be assembled. Later on in the evening I would churn out 3,000 words.
- 9.23 P.M. 8 November. I remember this day because all writing had come to a halt. You see I had invited my writer demons round to chat through my new piece of story idea furniture and guess what – they hated it! I didn’t want to go on, my story was rubbish and the whole thing felt like a waste of time. So, I remember searching Google for ‘quitting NaNoWriMo’ and I came across this article which said, ‘everyone wants to quit on day 8.’ According to the article it is the worst day for NaNoWriMo stories. I don’t like following the crowd so I decided to somehow summon the strength to carry on and quit further along. My goodness, going from 15k to 20K words was HELL! I had to literally SQUEEZE words out of me. Weirdly, looking back at all my shelved stories, they are all ditched between 15k and 20k words.
- 5.09 A.M. 12 November. I was back to loving my story. Somehow I sailed past 25k words and was fast approaching 30k. I was getting up at 5am to get an hour of writing in before work, writing in my lunch hour and writing in the evening.
- 8.45 A.M. 14 November. On this day my mind suddenly worked out what was wrong with a previously ditched story, which I tried to assemble earlier in the year, but had given up. I spent the entire day debating whether I should ditch my NaNoWriMo draft and work on previously shelved story.
- 17 November. Wrote so much I felt giddy all day.
- 19 November. I lost the feeings of love for my draft once again and found myself daydreaming about resting it for an entire DECADE after NaNoWriMo ended. The thought of not laying eyes on it for ten years was very pleasurable.
- 21 November. The day my husband got the shocking and unexpected news, he was being made redundant. For 2 days all work on my draft stopped as our life pretty much went into free fall. I got sick of the phrase, ‘oh, how terrible it happening just before Christmas,‘ and we had to have the conversation with the kids about how Christmas was going to be done on a tight budget.
- 24 November. With my life in crisis mode I turned to my NaNoWriMo draft and decided to carry on. This turned out to be the best decision I have made. As things started to crumble around me I carried on writing. I’m not saying I wasn’t there for my husband because I was. I just got up earlier and went to bed later.
- 25 November. I had now gone past 40k words and was starting to read about other writers finishing. This is where NaNoWriMo once again gets hard, because you are so close, others are celebrating victory and you are exhausted. Writing another 8k or so feels impossible.
- 26 November. The urge to quit returned at about 47k. It sounds ridiculous now writing this because I had produced so much, but that final 3k felt so tough. This is when I turned to Twitter and asked for some encouragement. After a much-needed Twitter Pep talk and some thought-provoking GIFs, I got back to work.
- 10.00 P.M. 27 November. I sat down to write a few hundred words, but decided to finish and go for the final 1,800. I completed the 50,000 word goal as my husband switched onto the fourth season of the Wire.
My story wasn’t over, there was more to do, but I had completed the contest. Somehow I had dug deep through the rough patches, carried on writing when my life went into free fall and found comfort in some thought provoking GIFs.
So, that’s my 2018 NaNoWriMo journey.
Things I have learnt from taking part in NaNoWriMo:
- I spend too long on first drafts. They need to be written quickly and put away.
- My writing gets me through difficult patches in my life. It might not have given me the author daydream (yet) but it has been like a rock to me over the past few weeks.
- A story idea for a first draft is like a piece of flat packed furniture, but once it’s assembled there’s still work to do. Revision is where you paint, decorate and position your piece of furniture. *Sigh*
Did you do NaNoWriMo?
What did your journey look like?