As you all know, I participated in the NaNoWriMo 2014 challenge in November. As you probably also know, I was barely active on social media throughout the month…I honestly couldn’t find the energy to brush my hair, let alone come up with sharp and witty repertoire to post!
Shew!!!!! NaNoWriMo took it out of me. I haven’t been that tired in a very long time. Now that I have had a full day to recover, here is the low down:
For those of you who don’t know what I have been talking about, November is NAtional NOvel WRIting MOnth (NaNoWriMo, see?) The basic premise is that it challenges authors to write a 50,000 word draft novel in ONE month. To put it into perspective, here are the rough word counts on my previous books (note: it takes me approx. 6 months to complete a manuscript)
- The Legacy: 97500
- The Legion: 105000
- Rainfall: 92500
- The Traveler: 89500
- The Legend: 97000 (Two months ’til release day!!!!)
So, 50000 words in a month is basically TRIPLE the word count I usually manage – and I am fairly quick to begin with.
Anyway, never one to back down from a challenge, I signed up with great aplomb. I admit, I “adapted” NaNoWriMo to suit my own purpose. Instead of a new 50000 word draft, I wanted to add 50000 words to the manuscript I was currently working on. I had just completed the first book in my new series: The Guardians of Summerfeld, and I was in a bit of a funk. I had written two full-length novels that hadn’t been released yet, and my morale was low. Writing a book takes a huge amount of energy and commitment. When I finish a book, I feel physically and emotionally drained. What lifts me out of this is the launching of the book…it’s a natural high – the excitement, the feedback. It motivates me to start again and recharges the batteries, so to speak.
I completed The Legend draft manuscript earlier this year, and of course we now wait for the big launch in February. I had also completed the first book in the Summerfeld series. I know many of you are waiting for it, and I am truly sorry that I have held it back, but I did not want to have a long wait between books, so I am hoping to complete the series, or get as close to completion as I can, and then stage back-to-back releases. But I digress…
The point is that two books down with no “release high” had me down in the writing dumps. NaNoWriMo seemed the perfect platform to stretch myself, and rekindle my writing mojo.
When the 31st of October rolled around, I had written 7501 words of book 2. And then I did the UNTHINKABLE! I WENT on HOLIDAY for the first two days of November. This may not sound so bad, but daily word count is like compound interest (to quote a very dear writer friend). Breaking it down, you need to write 1667 words per day (including Saturdays and Sundays) to complete the 50,000 word target. The problem is, if you miss two days, that’s 3334 words you have fallen behind. And so it adds up….
Not too perturbed, I arrived back on the 2nd, after an amazing getaway with one of my dearest friends, and my 3 young people, and I was raring to go. Like my never-ending stream of diets, the first 3 days were a piece of cake (pardon the pun). And then I ran out of steam. What followed was literal rollercoaster of ups and downs, high and lows, fist pumps and F-bombs.
It was H.A.R.D. Harder than I thought it was going to be. My average bedtime for the month of November was between 12 & 2am. I was tired, desperate, and bleeding from my eyeballs (well, not literally, but they constantly had that scratchy raw feeling.) My husband told me not to sweat it…I’d already written 6 books, I would finish this one when I finished it, what was the point of putting myself under so much pressure. But I didn’t quit… And I am so glad that I didn’t. Instead, I cried on the inside, like a winner, and….
I COMPLETED THE NANOWRIMO CHALLENGE!
I did it. In fact, I blew it out of the water with a total of 52076 words in 30 days. To put that into perspective again, if I maintained that pace, I would release a book every two months. Which is never going to happen…
What I learned…
Here is what NaNoWriMo taught me. This challenge, to me, is not about craft…it’s about discipline. You cannot hone your talent, or become a better writer, not when you are writing at that pace, but it does teach you to write everyday…to treat your writing as you would a normal day job. It also forces you to write through the walls. When writing a book, you hit walls, where you just can’t find the words, and every sentence is agony. Often, this results in me taking a few days “off”. I stay away from my work in progress until inspiration hits. With NanoWriMo, you do not have that luxury. I learned that if you just write through it, you suddenly find your feet again, and you can write through that “block”.
I know I wrote a LOT of crap in November. I know that I am going to have to do a whole lot of editing and will probably change quite a bit of what I wrote. But there were also moments of BRILLIANCE. My plot developed considerably, and the story took twists and turns I never expected. I wrote more sh*t this past month than I ever have before, but I also think that I wrote some of the best scenes of my life. And for that alone, I am delighted I participated, and YES, I WILL DO IT AGAIN.
Thanks to NaNoWriMo, the Guardians of Summerfeld Book 2 is 2/3rds down, and I am secretly harbouring hope that I might finish this book by the end of this year. Which means that we are that much closer to my next release. I won’t put a date to it yet, but rest assured, it will be sooner than you think.
Thank you to every single one of you who support me, who read my books, review them, recommend them, and most of all, who have faith in me. I cannot express my gratitude enough!
Originally published on Melissa’s blog.