How NaNoWriMo has gone for me:
Last days of October: Getting in the right mindset.
Most of October I did not devote to planning my November novel story. Some refer to October as NaNoPlanMo, for the time alloted to get the logistics of their story out so as to focus on just writing in November. The last week of October I worked at stirring up my creativity and hammering out the ideas that had been swirling around in my head. It was productive. I bought another Moleksine notebook (because I’m obsessed with them). This one was with blank pages to let me just write whatever and not be hindered by imposing ruled lines.
Living in Ohio, the land of trees and a gazillion political ads, we were not affected as severely by Superstorm Sandy, but there were plenty of power outages caused by the strong winds, downed trees and powerlines, and plenty of rain. The days I was to go to work after the weekend, I found myself with more time to stew in storymaking. My job was out of power so I didn’t go in. Instead of lazing around, I decided to continue on the streak of creativity I’d been riding on over the weekend. I created a writing atmosphere. I got my cup of chamomile tea, began watching season 1 Downton Abbey to chill my nerves, and then spent the rest of the day writing, coloring, and reading to the magically beautiful DA soundtrack. I copied quotes to motivate myself I brainstormed, I drew. For two rainy days I lost myself in the feel of being creative.
NaNoWriMo Day 1: Awesome.
Still energize by my writing flow, I went to work. After two days closed, everyone worked hard to get back on track and be productive. It was a great energy to continue in such focus even at work. And there was an interesting break when the power went back out. But it came on again and nothing could knock my good mood.
After work I shut myself in my room to begin writing. And I wrote. I jumped around from different scenes. My first sentence was not a true and good first sentence to a book, but I didn’t care I just kept creating, focusing on getting to 1,667 words. Halfway there, I grew tired from all the hard work of that morning and the concentration at my computer. I napped. And what a great thing naps are! When I woke up, I kept at my writing pace rejuvenated and by the evening I had over 1,900 words. I was surprised and pleased with the ease I could get words out there. After years of school making myself produce as many words that had to be perfect for a grade, writing for the fun of it was easy. And then…
Day 2: Hit the wall.
The first day ended with me so happy. Then the second day the doubts hit, the critics started up their rant, and it was difficult to get back into the flow. Even my new found Downton Abbey love couldn’t get me focused again. I felt my story wasn’t good enough. My plot was too simplistic. Without somewhere to go I felt I was floundering and no words were really coming. I managed to get to a little over 1,100 words and ended things there for the day. It was disheartening. I knew I would run into a wall, but so soon?
Day 3: Things get better.
After a day feeling self-conscious, I made plans to stay on track. I woke up and began plucking away at the keyboard, getting some words down. I talked with someone about my proclivity to be tough on myself and to give up. They urged me to keep writing. I had to find that focus again. Really, I had to sit down and make myself do the work.
Then I went to my first write-in. It was held a public library. People met up to write together. Most of the people were like me and this was their first NaNoWriMo experience. A few people and the moderators of the event had done this all before. They reminded us that most people are not going to finish with a polished perfect story free of typos and plot holes. It will not be publishable. If someone achieves it, then that was rare. The point of it all is to get to the goal number words and to do that, you have to write a lot. Later things can be polished.
It was a nice reminder and it was a nice time to be with other people click clacking away at their laptops. A couple people had pen and paper. It reminded me of the best times at school when working around people and everyone spurring each other on to continue working just by putting the energy in their own work. I began on a tangent of a story idea with no idea how to bring it back to the story I began with. But I had words. In total that day I got around 2,000 words. And it was great to have others consciously or by association encourage me to keep going.
Day 4: The day I got a nice plan.
Leading up to this day I had disparate and tentative ideas for a story, but not much of a plot. While getting ready for church this morning, I sat down with my writing notebook and started writing how I could connect everything, especially the story idea I had been working on the previous day. And I came up with some sort of plot. Now, there are plot holes and I’m not sure if it’s any good, but it’s a plan. And this is just the beginning of something.
And day 5?
I plan to stick to a stricter plan. This blog post out the way, there is writing and reading in store for me today. The writing has already been going well. Hopefully it continues to be a fruitful, productive day.
Wishing all the other Wrimos and people meeting their personal challenges the best of luck and all blessing along their way! 😀
Why an account/progress update?
I want to keep an account of how NaNoWriMo goes. A couple years ago I pulled through a challenging time to write a 20 page story in a week for an assignment. To my surprise, it turned out to be one of the best things that I’ve written. I now have the story (excerpt here) but no account of how I got through the challenges, no detailed account of my creative process to help me the next time. Now I’m keeping record of the details.
Also, NaNoWriMo is a big personal challenge for me. I want to write as I’ve never written before, letting myself do a terrible first draft but still getting all the ideas out to work with. I want to write the most words I’ve ever written for a story. And I want to keep going with a challenge without giving up, believing I’m not good enough. At the end of the November I want to be proud that I tried my hardest and accomplished something.
I have experience writing things, but less experience letting myself write a mess–a true first draft–and then editing it to a better version. And as so many say, writing really has to do with rewriting. So this is a challenge in getting my ideas on paper and letting them stay on paper, not erasing them the moment I feel they are stupid or illogical or not well said. I feel more capable, not so defeated anymore.
This is a marathon run. Each event, each day is not going to be my best, but I have to at least participate and do my best with each small challenge that makes up the larger challenge. It’s all mental. It’s all me. No one is asking me to do this, there’s no grade, and I really won’t let anyone but myself down if I stop. And that’s why I can’t stop. It feels impossible, but that will change if I conquer this challenge.
It might be a roller coaster of emotions concerning my writing. Just need to keep pushing and just write.