November seemed like it disappeared in a flash. One minute I was sat in the Waterstones café setting down the first tentative words of my Nanowrimo project, the next I was plugging the numbers in to the website to get my little winners medal. 50,000 words in 30 days is the goal. I managed it in 27.
I went in knowing I was going to give it my best shot, but I had some reservations. I wasn’t entirely sure I would be able to give it the time it needed. Coincidentally I had the first week of the month off from work, which gave me a good boost at the beginning, but for the rest of the month my schedule away from writing was far more hectic than usual. Work has been intense and demanding a huge amount of my time and energy, both physical and emotional. I was certain at some point it would all catch up with me and something would give. But it didn’t. I found time to write every day but one, and wrote more on average than was required to finish on time. The intensity of it was actually very useful. It gave me an outlet that I needed. A thing that wasn’t work to focus on.
I wrote in cafés, I wrote at home, I wrote at work during my lunch break, I wrote in the kitchen while I was cooking. I wrote fast and I didn’t look back. Now, looking at my scruffy first draft, I can hardly remember where all these words came from.
This was my first successful attempt at Nanowrimo, and was the first time I have ever gone into it with a decent plan for what I was doing. I had a near complete outline, themes, characters and some specific scenes in mind for key points in the story. Really by the time November started I was straining at the leash to get going and so the first 10,000 words spilled out so easily that I was starting to wonder why the whole endeavour had seemed difficult at all. By 30,000 words, I had remembered. There came a point where I had written everything I had planned to write and was struggling to keep the momentum up. Around the middle of the month I started to falter.
But things kept happening. I would stare at the screen for twenty minutes, and then a character would take the lead – say something I wasn’t expecting, do something I wasn’t expecting – and I’d be off again. By the time I set down my 50,000th word I had a complete arc of the story I had intended to write, but with some huge gaps here and there and a bunch of inconsistencies to resolve. I am taking a little break from it for a while. I’m going to get Christmas out of the way, I’m going to wait for the intensity of my work life to lessen a little, and then I’m getting back in there. I’m excited about this novel. I think it’s got something.
When Nanowrimo was over, once I had written my final word, it was actually hard to think what I used to do with my time before I filled every minute of it with writing. For a few days I just seemed to walk around the house, blinking in the light, trying to figure out what to do next. I’m glad I did it though. It was intense but valuable. I went from having an idea I was excited about and a few pages of notes to a (very rough) first draft in an amazingly short space of time. And the knowledge that I was sharing the experience with other writers all over the world was surprisingly motivating. I didn’t make it to any of my local groups write-ins and meet ups, thanks to my busy schedule, which was a shame. I would have liked to. But maybe next year, since I am sure I will want to do this again.