November is National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for only slightly shorter. The aim of the game is to get down a legible 50,000 words, which means completing an average of 1,667 words per day for thirty days. I’ve failed (drastically) once before, but 50k would bring me past the finish line of the first draft of Novel No.2. Can it be done? I’m not sure, but I’m going to try…
Day 1 | Monday 1st November
My NaNoWriMo Bid 2010 gets off to a shaky start: I sleep in.
Last night I did the responsible thing and went to bed early. Alas, my head was full of sentences (and Christmas present ideas, and To Do lists) and I couldn’t sleep. After laying awake in the dark for an hour, I gave up and decided to read a couple of chapters of the next book on my towering pile, The Lost Girls. I finally got to sleep around two, but woke up about every half hour – it felt like – for the rest of the night. Officially the worst night’s sleep I’ve ever had, and that includes my last night in Orlando in 2008 when between stumbling home after a drunken night out and heading for the airport to catch a flight to Guatemala, I enjoyed exactly 55 minutes sleep. But as I don’t have a job – amazingly, my parents refuse to consider Dreaming About Being a Published Novelist a full time gig – and have a clear schedule for the day, this is no excuse.
(Can you think of excuses for me? Answers on a postcard please.)
I wrote for about five hours (minus 45 minutes for lunch and every other minute of the rest for prolonged periods of staring out the window) and managed a slightly painful 1,758 words. I know I should be using this Start of NaNo Enthusiasm I’m supposed to have to bank extra words – before the “Why did I do this?!” ghoulish wails start in next week – but my brain just doesn’t want to do it. We’re on the minimum required, for now.
Day 2 | Tuesday 2nd November
Some people snort at NaNo in the same way readers of NME spit out “X-Factor”. “Novel writing takes years!” they protest. “It’s a craft. Encouraging people to write a novel in a month is distasteful at best and a mockery at worst!” But they’re completely missing the point (fun – have you heard of it?) and the benefits of taking part: a rock solid deadline you cannot waver from, and a gang of people – your NaNo writing buddies – who will dismember you slowly if you fail to pass the finish line.
(Or something less violent and grotesque. I’m asking mine to shout at me.)
Do I have a point? Not really. I was just telling you all that to distract you from the fact that today I was a naughty NaNo-er and wrote absolutely zilch. I was out all morning and by the time I sat down at my desk to crank out the 1,667 words required to keep me up to date, my eyelids felt like they’d tiny weights attached to them and my brain was devoid of thought. (Well, it did have one thought, and that thought was, Afternoon nap? Don’t mind if I do!)
I blame The Lost Girls for keeping me up past my NaNo bedtime for the second night in a row. How very dare they.
I’m testing a theory whereby writing abusive messages to myself on my word count tracker encourages me to write more words. You can also see where I wasted thirty minutes figuring out what days I was due to hit the milestones (10k, 20k, etc.) so I could color them in. Then I allowed myself a green box which symbolizes Lots of Editing Done, which means you only need to hate yourself half as much today for not making your word count.
Day 3 | Wednesday 3rd November
Not a good day. Despite having no interruptions other than those of my own creation, I only managed to squeak out 1,750 words even though with my current One Day Behind status, I should have done at least double that.
The problem is this no editing business. Writing without correcting myself just seeing where things will go is like walking across a woodworm-infested rope bridge hanging hundreds of feet above a pile of sharp rocks with your eyes closed – I don’t like it. And what’s the point of having 50,000 words if 49,871 of them are total rubbish?
So I’m revising my NaNo plans. Instead of trying to get down any 1667 words on any given day, I’m going to aim to get down any 1667 words before noon, and then spend the afternoon trying to turn them into something sensical. My novel’s plot is planned out already and I feel that’s the only way I could make my words stick to it. We’ll see how it goes. And how long it lasts.
I suspect until about 12.05 tomorrow.
Another thing that would be helpful: finishing that bloody Lost Girls book. It’s way too distracting.
Also distracting: finding out that if you’ve a Google account (like Gmail or Reader) you can set your own background image on Google.com. Spent a good half hour trying different images out, even though I never visit the website but just type what I’m looking for in the handy Google search box of my Safari window. I settled on a picture of my favourite place, the town of Celebration, Florida, where I plan on moving to should I ever be lucky enough to make a living as a writer.
(The NaNo Overlords say: AS IF!)
Day 4 | Thursday 4th November
Today I gave myself a metaphorical slap across the face, grabbed myself by the shoulders and shouted, “Get a grip, woman!” I was stressing about the pressure of producing x number of words every day, and wondering if I really have enough time to not only write them, but make sure they’re not completely crap as well. Then I realized that I did, because I’ve done it before.
When I was writing Novel Number 1, I didn’t have a daily word quota. I only tried to get one chapter done per day, and these varied from 1,000 to 2,500 words. Starting the morning with a blank page, I’d write the a rough draft of the chapter very quickly – not so much writing the words as I wanted them, but sort of sketching the chapter’s layout – and then go back and rewrite until I was happy that although the prose might not yet be perfect, the story was going where it needed to go. I managed to do this without feeling like I had a panic attack coming on, which is how I’ve been feeling trying to get these NaNo words done. I need to start thinking more about what I’m doing – writing a book – and less about that awful number of 1,667. I want NaNo to help me write through the pressure of a deadline, but I could do without the shortness of breath.
Today’s distraction: these beautiful F. Scott Fitzgerald hardcovers by Penguin Classics the postman brought me. (There’s actually a set of six, I believe, but since I have no intention of ever reading them – just gazing at them – I figured five was enough. Maybe. We’ll see.) They are the equivalent of book cover porn for those of us who love our books as much as we love reading, and they’ll look great in my Fantasy Library of the Future, which will be in a light-filled, swanky apartment and stocked with white Billy bookcases.
P.S. This blog post is 1,265 words. So there.