I finished NaNoWriMo a couple of hours ago and I just wanted to take some time to reflect on the craziness of the past month.
Writing every day
It’s difficult to write every day, especially when you work. It’s especially hard to crank out 1667 words a day on a fiction project when you’ve written that much, if not more, on client projects. Words are hard to come by sometimes and God help you if you plunge into writer’s block. I am really lucky that I had already established a habit of writing 750 words a day. If I hadn’t have been doing that for 100+ days there is no way that I would have been able to complete NaNoWriMo.
Having no outline
My biggest mistake during this whole exercise was the fact that I had no plot outline. I had a well developed cast because I’d already written the first draft of Book 2 in the trilogy. I’ve got great characters, flawed, conflicted etc but I had no idea what they would be doing for a whole book. Day 1 of NaNoWriMo was confronting because here I was, basically free writing, with zero direction. No plot. Nothing. Everything I wrote, all 50000+ words, I dreamed up as I was writing. Which is pure insanity and a lot of hard work.
As a result the story took twists and turns that I really couldn’t have planned for and I think I prefer it that way. While it’s a lot more work, it does feel more organic to write off the cuff. In the past I’ve developed meticulous outlines but have found that characters tend to deviate regardless of my intentions for them. I’ve learned that characters have their own motivations that unfold as the story progresses. I really like that. It feels natural. But regardless, I should have had a basic idea of what the plot would entail.
To be honest, I am mentally exhausted, but there are some finishing touches I need to put on this first draft. I also have to take the time to actually read through it. Currently it is filling up 71 A4 pages in Word. I’m going to need to take a few days off from it before I head back in, editors cap on, and start slashing and re-working scenes. When I’m happy, I’ll send it through to my editor who I am hoping will help me to tighten it. From there, it’s either pitch it to a publisher or make it into an e-book and launch it on Amazon or the iBook store. I haven’t made my mind up yet. I’ll be doing lots of research into the pros and cons of each over the coming weeks.
I have written more this year than I have done in previous years. Personal projects in particular. I have no doubt in my mind that the catalyst for this has been developing a daily routine of writing. Every day, since August 1st, I’ve sat down and written at least 750 words. Every day. Without fail. I’m at day 122 now and I don’t see myself stopping. I would be devastated if I missed a day (blame it on my OCD). It’s hard to write every day. There have been days when I really didn’t feel like writing but I sucked it up and got it done. I knew that the disappointment I would feel would be way worse than any discomfort I could possibly feel during the 15 minutes that it usually takes me to write my words. Suck it up and get it done. That’s my motto.
I’ve written two books since August. I am a little overwhelmed by that fact. If I die tomorrow (furious knocks on wood) I can die calling myself a writer. Because I am. And that feels good.