Well, it’s truly been a marathon of a month and I’m glad I did my training in the run up to it. I, somehow, passed the 50k word mark for NaNoWriMo today with a full day to spare. As of Sunday I was nigh on ready to throw in the towel as I wasn’t sure I’m make it but I decided to preserve and see what happened. I was working (day job) over the weekend but thankfully I had yesterday and today off in lieu of it, so I was able to do some serious catching up. Something took over yesterday (I’m still not sure what) and I got almost six thousand words done during the day. For me, that’s a lot, and possibly a personal best. I have to say I’m very pleased with myself right now. That’s my second consecutive year of NaNo and I won both times. I’m thrilled that I have 50k more words than I had less than a month ago but I’m not completely delusional about it all. I’m probably around half way through the story, so my plan is to continue with it and get a full first draft done by Christmas, then take a little break and work on something else for a while (the OTMA script or some editing for my first novel, Bitten By A Dog On Tuesday).
For this draft of Attrition, as with any first draft, I’m allowing anything to happen. I’m getting words on the page and I will worry about editing them later. I’m already aware of some inconsistencies and structural issues, as well as parts I just don’t like, but I’m ploughing onward for the time being and once I’ve the entire story on the page I’ll go back and begin redrafting. I try not to edit as I go along but I do a little here and there, though I prefer to go back and do it all in one fell swoop.
I tend to be a planner, so I have an idea as to where the story is going and what needs to happen. I think that’s what got me through the last two days really- I was able to look at my notes and see what needed to happen next and then write it. I’m not rigid and see my plans as a road map to a destination but I’m more than happy to take detours along the way. In fact, I often don’t get a choice. One major change that has occurred in the story only very recently is that instead of two children being murdered it’s now one child and an adult. This has a big knock on effect for the rest of the story but it’s all manageable from a writing point of view. No doubt other changes will occur too but that’s been the largest to date. To be honest, it’s usually up the the characters what happens but I sometimes get to have a say in it.
The great thing about NaNoWriMo is that it’s totally unnecessary but very, very useful. Of course, we don’t need NaNo to tell us to write every day and we don’t need a goal set on our behalf but, hand on heart, I wouldn’t write 50K words in 29 days usually. The sense of community from the online forum is great, as I’m sure are the real life meet-ups. The psychology of having goals and being monitored is why this works (the same format as dieting clubs or some addiction treatment programs). We, generally, behave better when we think we’re being watched. I am, and always will be, grateful to NaNo for helping me get two novels (hopefully) written in two years. One is still a WIP and my first is tantalisingly close to being a final draft (or a first final if that makes sense) but still needs a bit more editing. I write all year long but NaNo is great to really focus that effort and get a huge chunk done in a relatively short period of time.
If you’re a NaNO Winner this year, congratulations. If you don’t reach the 50k mark, then still hold your head high and look at all the lovely words that you did write. If you’ve never done NaNo then make a pledge now that you’ll do it in 2017. You won’t regret it.