Having had a couple of days off work, have spent the time making my final preparations for National Novel Writing Month. I’m the kind of person who always worries if there’s something I haven’t done, but for the most part, I’m feeling ready. It doesn’t feel like there’s much more I can do. In fact, I’ve done a lot more prep than I have for some previous NaNoWriMos so this may even be one of my better ones.
My main concern this time round is getting stuck on the little details, given that I’m writing historical fiction. I’ve spent a lot of time going through websites to learn about such things as geology, surgery and politics in the first half of the 19th century – which has been great fun – but I can’t know every single accurate detail. Theoretically, it doesn’t matter, since nobody’s going to see this, at least not in first draft form – but if anything slows me down this time around (besides the actual effort itself), it’s going to be filling in the gaps. Well, I guess I can take a little artistic licence here and there. It’s just a bit of fun right now.
Having looked at other bloggers’ posts on the upcoming NaNoWriMo and what they’ve been talking about, I’ve been thinking: why do I do it? It’s not like I’ve actually published anything I’ve produced from NaNoWriMo, though I would like to do so eventually.
Well, I first started doing it because I wanted to write a novel and the “quantity, not quality” approach seemed a good way to get the words on paper. Having now done multiple NaNoWriMos, I’ve established that I do my most prolific writing when I’ve got a deadline and daily targets. I sometimes struggle to write at other times given that I’m all the motivation I have; but knowing that I’ve got a certain amount of time to do this in, looking at the graph on the website (and also, in my case, a spreadsheet of my word counts) – that keeps me on the path. I also love the social side of it: my regional group holds regular meet-ups before, during and after NaNoWriMo, and I’ve made friends with some really great people this way.
And, of course, it’s fun, too! Yes, it will sometimes be a chore even under the best circumstances. Around the two-thirds mark, I tend to get tired and slow down and really struggle to make the words come. But I enjoy the challenge; the harder something is, the more satisfying it is when you accomplish it. And one of the best ways to ensure you complete NaNoWriMo is to ensure that you choose a story you’ll truly enjoy the process of writing. My best NaNoWriMo day ever (in terms of word count) was on 27th November 2010, when I wrote 6505 words of climax, which basically involved a large group of characters having a massive, chaotic, farcical battle in the middle of a theatre. I’ve always liked writing action best, but I just completely let myself go for that one. My best overall NaNoWriMo ever was the August Camp in 2012 when I was writing my Titanic story; I got to 50,000 words on the 26-day mark, and managed my highest overall word count yet – and once again, it was because I was really enjoying the writing.
So that would probably be my biggest tip for any NaNoWriMo newcomers who might be reading this: think about your personal pleasure when it comes to writing your story. Make it as fun as possible.
Also, bear in mind your daily target (1,667 words) and whenever you can, try to exceed it, particularly early on while you’re still fresh. It’s quite likely that you’re going to have off days, or days where you simply don’t have time to write much; having a safety margin will help a lot.
I’ll be updating this blog with how I’m getting on through November and how my mindset inevitably changes from fresh to worn-down. Hopefully it’ll give me even more motivation. So, bring on Saturday morning when I can open up that blank Word document and begin with the title! Good luck, everybody!