October was supposed to be Prep_tober. It was supposed to be the month I spent planning my novel for November and National Novel Writing Month. But somehow, it didn’t happen. I ended up putting aside the novel I thought I’d be working on this month. There just wasn’t enough to go on, and when I tried to do dedicated brainstorming for it… My brain just didn’t come up with anything. I spent 25 days of October staring at what notes I did have for the project, wondering why my brain refused to fill in the holes.
In the last week of October I decided I would take another look at my Works In Progress, and see what leapt out at me. One did, and in just a few days I’d brainstormed enough to be getting on with. I’m definitely noticing a difference in my writing this year—I don’t know if that’s because I’ve spent the last year specifically watching for craft as I read, or because I’ve been seeking out narrative craft advice, but this year is different.
Last year was my wordiest NaNoWriMo novel so far, at 27,161 words. Looking back at that novel, I almost feel like I had too much forward momentum. I wrote all the big exciting scenes, the major plot points—I wrote the skeleton, as it were. This year, I’m forcing myself to slow down. I know all (ok, most) of the major plot points in this novel, but instead of immediately jumping into those, I’m making sure to take the time to write the things that come in between—this year I’m making sure I don’t skip all the connective tissue (to continue the anatomy metaphor).
And so far? It’s going pretty well. This is my 12th NaNoWriMo and for the first time ever… I’m ahead of the count, and on track to win. (I’ve also realized that this novel is likely to be more than 50,000 words, and I’m not sure I’ll actually get to the end of it during November. That’s ok though. Just have to get those 50k words.)
A huge part of this is the support I have this year. Yes, I have a pretty good idea of where this novel is going, and yes, that helps enormously. But I also have a husband who cheers me on and asks if I’ve made my word count for the day. I have a group of friends —people I gathered together from our core NaNoWriMo group from last year and who I’ve gotten together with every other week for the last year to keep writing together—all of whom are determined that I’m going to win this year. The support is incredible, and I’m making the note to myself now that if this novel ever gets published, I need to make sure they all get named in the acknowledgements.
I’m so incredibly proud of myself for what I’ve done so far: for writing every day, for staying ahead of the word count, and for keeping my enthusiasm up. One of my friends, always said (and I’ll paraphrase because the last time I heard her say it, it was in a podcast and I’m too lazy to transcribe it to get the exact quote) that NaNoWriMo was one of her favorite ways to develop the habit of writing every day. And it’s true; I’m learning when during the day I can squeeze in a couple hundred words, when are my prime writing times to get down a whole bunch of words, when are my best brainstorming times and what conditions. By the time November and NaNoWriMo ends, I hope to have a clearer idea for how to continue to write during the rest of the year.
Day 1: 2,313 (2,313) (NaNoWriMo Goal: 1,667)
Day 2: 1,340 (3,653) (NaNoWriMo Goal: 3,333)
Day 3: 2,241 (5,894) (NaNoWriMo Goal: 5,000)
Day 4: 1,883 (7,777) (NaNoWriMo Goal: 6,667)
Day 5: 1,263 (9,040) (NaNoWriMo Goal: 8,333)
Day 6: 2,022 (11,062) (NaNoWriMo Goal: 10,000)
Day 7: 952 (12,014) (NaNoWriMo Goal: 11,667)
Yesterday was my lightest writing day. I honestly meant to write more before bed—I was pretty sure I’d be able to hit at least 1,667 words for the day—but instead I just fell asleep. I probably needed it, and thanks to the buffer I’ve built in for myself, I’m still ahead of the NaNoWriMo official count. And I’ll build up that buffer again tonight at my write-in. My personal daily word count goal is 2,000 words, with a minimum of 1,667 if I can’t get to 2k. I’m reminding myself not to get so confident in my buffer that I let myself write significantly less, and yesterday was probably an anomaly. Maybe I’ll use my lunch break to brainstorm the next few scenes so that I know exactly where I’m headed when I write tonight…
How’s your NaNoWriMo going?