First official week of NaNo is under my belt and it was a roller coaster experience.
Day 1: This day was hectic mostly due to personal reasons but I got my writing in. I barely exceeded the advised daily average of 1,667 by 11 words. Cool and at least I’m on target.
I went to the kick-off meeting in my area and enjoyed it. Although I was quite tired by that time of day, I was happy to bring what I’d been working on. The kick-off meeting consisted of introducing ourselves and describing what we were planning on writing and any other information we wanted to volunteer. After introductions, our ML (Municipal Liaison) had as an ice-breaker a game where we had to talk to each person there and figure out if we at least one read book in common. The catch was we couldn’t use the same book with anyone else.
After that game, we did an exercise that I saw as very beneficial. On a notecard we were encouraged to either draw our Inner Editor (or Heckler as one guy referred to it) or write down phrases it says to us as we are writing. We then put that notecard into an envelope and sealed it with instructions to not open it up until after NaNo. It’s a symbolic gesture. For the month of November, that evil, evil little bastard is supposed to go somewhere. I hope to die a horrible fiery death.
After our notecard Inner Editor/Heckler banning, we wrote for an hour. Some of us, like me, were lost in our own world while others socialized in between paragraphs. I went home exhausted but I had gotten in my personal daily goal of 3 hours in.
Day 2: It was a bit of a disaster for me. The scope and breadth of what I wanted to write got to me. I had everything somewhat plotted out, my character sheets ready to go, 2 years of planning, and I choked. I absolutely hated what I had written the day before. It didn’t feel like it was enough and not where I wanted to start the book.
That’s when it went downhill.
I went to a write-in at a local library not knowing what to expect. A nice little group of about 10 people showed up. Some I recognized from the night before. Again we did introductions but then we talked about writing, how many NaNos we had done, how day 1 went, etc.
Then we got down to writing. We decided as a group to do word wars. Being new to all of this, I didn’t know what a word war was. A timer is set and you write as many words as you can in that time. That first five minutes, my brain froze as I decided I wanted to redo what I had written on day 1. That’s a big NaNo no-no. And it showed. I managed to only keep 3 words which wasn’t a sentence of 3 words, just 3 words. We did more 5 minute word wars then expanded the time to 10 minutes. In total, I only wrote about 600 words that day.
I decided that format wasn’t the correct environment for me. Small bursts of writing with periods of socializing in between didn’t bode well for my brain. I need time to just stare off into space to collect my thoughts then write.
I went home quite, quite dejected. I had a full on meltdown, crying to my husband that I wasn’t cut out for this and perhaps writing novels isn’t what I’m meant to do. He pointed out that perhaps the project I wanted to do isn’t appropriate for a timeframe like NaNo. We talked some more and I bounced the idea of starting with a different novel altogether. He thought that might be a good idea, a way to clear my head and gain energy. The biggest help he provided was helping me realize that since I’ve never written a novel before, I should be using NaNo as a way to learn what writing one feels like. Epiphany time!
Days 3 – 7: I did something which could be considered another NaNo no-no and that was to start a new project. Not only is it a new project but a different genre. I switched from historical fiction to fantasy, a genre in which I have dabbled in. The only thing I was certain about was my main character who was one I has used in a short story but had always been curious to know more about. I wanted to explore more of her background, who and what shaped her before the short story I wrote about her took place. Sounded like a perfect NaNo project.
Since that decision, I have been able to write with that sense of enthusiasm and abandon NaNo encourages. And my daily word count has increased. That’s not to say I haven’t had some moments of ‘What now?’ but the creative juices are flowing. Of course, daily rewards of candy help, too.
Here’s hoping next week is just as productive. I have a crazy idea of doing some marathon writing this weekend. 6 hours each day on Saturday and Sunday. Here’s to lots and lots of caffeine and excessive word counts!