The leaves are beginning to fall, the air is crisp and there’s a a definite and suspicious lull before the storm, which can only mean one thing; It’s October, NaNoWriMo 2016 will soon be upon us, and I need to get planning!
What is NaNoWriMo?
Well, I’m glad you asked. NaNoWriMo, or National Novel writing Month, is a challenge where you are supposed to write 50,000 words in the month of November, which is 1,667 words a day. The idea being that by the end of the month you’ll have the first draft, or maybe a partial first draft of your own novel. It’s a super fun thing to do, and not as hard as you might think, granted I’ve never actually finished.
My NaNoWriMo Experience.
So, as I said I’ve never actually completed the 50,000 word count, but I still had hell of a time trying. My first NaNoWriMo was during my first year of uni, in 2014, where I started on the first of November with nothing but a vague crime noir novel, most likely due to the fact that I was reading The Maltese Falcon at the time. I can’t quite remember what my final word count was, but I ended up spending more time planning that I did actually writing. I’d be very surprised if it even reached the 5,000 word mark.
Now, last year I didn’t intend to ever revisit the concept of NaNoWriMo, having come to the conclusion that it was not for me. Until, I got back to uni and found myself with a surprising amount of spare time during the month of October. I decided to start planning for NaNoWriMo using a story that I’d been toying around with for a good few years. Clearly I’d learnt the value of planning since the year before. Even though my story line was, and still is, very vague in places I finished my plan of 13 chapters in a week or two. Then I closed that document and did not look at it again until the first of November. What I didn’t want to happen was to get bored with my story or my characters. When it came to November I was flying though my novel. You already know that I didn’t reach 50,000 words by the end of the month, reaching around the 28,000 mark, but I realised that I didn’t actually care, because those were 28,000 words that I didn’t have the month before. My goal when I started was to do better than the year before and I succeeded by a mile.
What does this mean for me?
I do think that sitting down and forcing yourself to keep going with the same characters and the same storyline has made me a better, more determined written. Since last year anything that I do write tends to be much longer and word counts don’t faze me as much. I still think of one day in the middle of the month where I was ridiculously behind my daily targets but I just sat down, put Radio 4 on in the background and wrote 5,000 words in just one day. Since then I understand what chapter length really means, in terms of planning, the benefit of working with music and I’m much more confident in my own writing. Yeas, some parts are bad, but there are others that I’m really proud of. Above everything, I understand that a word count it not a restriction, but a goal, and that’s it’s okay to waste your words on something that might not seem all that important.
And here we are, ready to begin preparations for this year. I start with a vague idea, something I’ve played around with before and have a couple of little bits and pieces. My aim for October is to properly map out my story line and the way I do this is not very exciting. I’ll have a word document where I can write my story out in the most basic of ways, i.e. Scene opens in busy market place. X is walking along admiring the stalls, unaware that she is being followed by A. POV sticks with A as he follows her down the road… Sometimes when I start writing I won’t even refer back to these chapter outlines but it means that if I’m ever stuck for what can happen next I always have an idea. I also like to put together a board on Pinterest where I can fanciest my characters, or set the mood of the location, or keep track of quotes that encompass the feel I’m aiming for. Is my goal 50,000 words? Of course! But, so long as I can beat my personal best it’ll be a great NaNoWriMo!
What about you, have you done NaNoWriMo before? Are you planning on trying this year? If you are, feel free to add me as a writing buddy, you can find me under Miss Wonderly.