It’s November twenty-seventh, meaning including today there are just four more days to finish the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing a 50,000-word novel in one short month. As of this morning, I’m at 42,452, so it’s nip-and-tuck whether I’ll cross the finish line in time, but in my view, I’ve already won.
When I first heard of Nanowrimo a few years ago, I thought it was for amateurs. Then this year, I signed up because I needed a push. I got just what I asked for: incentive to sit at my desk and write daily, advancing the novel I’ve been working on for years.
What I’ve written isn’t a novel yet, but it’s part of a wonderful first draft that resembles a slightly overweight, middle-aged woman: blousy and untucked, hem crooked, lipstick wearing off, a bit florid in the face. Roots visible. Flabby, untoned, maybe even intoxicated, certainly out of breath – and very, very happy. At least I am.
What I have now is a fabulous mess. Oh, it started out a bit more controlled, just as I started out ahead of the curve, writing 2,000 words/day at the start of the month. But I knew what was coming: a trip that took me out-of-town for a week, followed by a week of preparing and celebrating Thanksgiving with a dozen house guests.
Given these major distractions, it’s no wonder I fell behind. But I didn’t give up. And that’s the magic.
- The knowledge that I can write fast when I need to;
- I can write early in the morning, before the house wakes;
- I can write at the airport, while waiting for my plane;
- I can write in bed, before sleep, if I have to.
- I can mark places in the text that I’ll have to go back to and check facts later – and not stop to do research (i.e. procrastinate).
- I can spill ink, blood, sweat and tears on the page without worry,
- Because I’ll have plenty of time to clean up the draft as I rewrite it
- And again.
If my nano-novel is like a blousy woman, then that makes me a personal trainer who’s looking forward to the next phase, after the rough draft is finished. That’s when I’ll work her hard to get her into shape. I’ll help her lose words, tighten her prose, improve the condition of her characters, take hours off her plot, and make her something to look at.
Did you attempt Nanowrimo this month? If so, what did you learn about yourself as a writer?