National Novel Writing Month is an event held every November where people all over the world attempt to write a 50,000 word first draft of a novel in the 30 days that make up November. This was my 14th year participating and I’m happy to say, my third win. Hooray! I finished my 50,018 word draft on November 29th.
The smallest writing day I had throughout the month was 75 words and the largest word count day 3679 words. I got behind on the overall word goal of 1667 words a day on the 9th and didn’t catch all the way back up until the 28th. It was a month of ups and downs.
I thought about quitting more times than I can count and changed direction on this novel often to keep my interest going. I pushed through though and have a really terrible rough draft of a novel I hate and will never look at again.
So what was the point? Why did I give up the majority of my reading time for 30 days? And give up the little bit of sleep I get for 30 days? For the winner’s tshirt? For the cheers of my kiddo and hubby and instagram followers?
The truth is I don’t know. It’s a challenge, one I was able to make time for this month with some major sacrifices. So I did it.
I don’t consider it a waste of time even though it was lot of work and I am so displeased with the end result that I considered deleting it outright instead of just leaving it in my Google Docs to be forgotten forever. I didn’t delete it though. Don’t delete anything. You may want or need it someday, for something.
I found out some things about myself and my family this month. First, we are a great team. When something is important to one of us the three of us band together to help accomplish the goal. What that looked like this month was my husband and daughter going to bed an hour early for quiet time and kindle games so I had some quiet time to write. And they did that every day for the whole month. Both of them hate to go to bed so that was kind of a big sacrifice for them. Also high fives from my kiddo and pep talks from the hubby when I wanted to quit.
Second, I don’t want to be a novelist for my career any more. That’s been my on and off dream job since I was old enough to hold a pencil. But the work to reward ratio is just not enough for me at this stage in my life. When things are less crazy and stressful it may work it’s way back to the forefront of my goals list again, but for now I’m happy to be a NaNo Novelist only and largely forget about writing fiction the rest of the year. Though I would like to try and keep my fiction writing practice fresh by writing something every day. I just don’t know that that is realistic for me at this time.
Third, I don’t have enough free time to meander my way through a novel at this point in my life. I need an outline if I’m going to succeed with any sanity left. I have always been a pantser, but I don’t have enough time during this stage of life to figure things out as I go and still succeed on such a tight schedule. An outline in advance would have made the whole process go more smoothly and enjoyably and I might have ended up with something less useless.
Fourth, no words are wasted. I’m chalking this up to another 50,018 words towards my one million practice words. I did end up with one character I had a great time with so I may pull him out of that story and do something fun with him next year for NaNoWriMo.
So not a total waste, but not a total success either. Technically I won and I put in the work and time to do so. And I’m sure I’ll try to do it again next year. I’ll wear my winner’s shirt with pride because even a really bad novel is still a novel. One that I created. Not everyone can say they’ve written three novels, but that’s one thing I can say.
How did your NaNoWriMo novel turn out?