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NaNoWriMo - Week One

Updated on January 17, 2011

What a lovely surprise

I am sure that many of us have heard of NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month, which officially takes place in November?  I have a friend, as I'm sure many of you will, who took part in this scribbling marathon in 2010.  At the time I was building up my hub library, and working on my own novel, so I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo in November 2011 instead.  After all, a person cannot possibly make time in each month to do absolutely everything they would like to do.

But I did not know then that I was going to be elbowed into undertaking the 50,000-word-novel-in-31-days challenge well before November.  This Christmas I was given the above pictured novel writing kit, put together by the very same Chris Baty, founder of NaNoWriMo.  My mum received a kit also.  We decided not to delay, and began the challenge eight days ago.  I had thought to start in, say, April.  But when I visited my mum just over a week ago, she said 'okay, shall we begin this weekend?' and we were off.  She was quite right, of course, and I realised that I had randomly chosen April as a way of putting the task off.  April would certainly have come and gone, and either I would have just forgotten about the whole novel thing, or I would have found an excuse to put it off for another month, and then another.  Best to just jump straight in, quite right.

And I must say that I have learned some very important lessons in these past eight days.  Some lessons I already knew, from my experiences with other unfinished novels.  But I'd forgotten those lessons, so it was good to relearn them.  I will write more about what I have learned at the end of the thirty-one days though.

When you break it down, fifty-thousand words over thirty-one days is only a little over one-thousand-six-hundred words per day.  Not really all that much (!), and if you sit down with a cup of tea (Earl Grey relaxes me and puts me in sublime writing mode) and a nice bit of Debussey in the background, you can get those words done in a couple of hours.  Easy (!)

Of course, I'm only one week into the journey.  It's been a glorious week, after I finally made that initial decision: which idea to choose.  I texted several people thus: 'ghost story set in 1725, or science fiction set on twin planets with humans at vastly different stages of technological development?'  It was unanimous - ghost story it was.  I began, and lo! the first few hundred words read like the opening of a novel.  Oh my word, this was amazing, a fully edited and perfectly worded novel was pouring out of me.  This task was going to be a doddle for me.  Characters emerged, fully grown and multi-faceted from the outset.  Plot lines suggested themselves, and one in particular seemed very plausible and rather gripping.  I knew exactly where to go to make the plot begin to appear.  I even knew how to write in a few nice points of misdirection, red herrings as it were.

I was having a whale of a time (apologies for the sealife references - my story has a somewhat maritime flavour, which I am finding it difficult to shake off in my other writing).  Surely I would have the whole novel written and ready for publication within the month.  But realisitically, I knew that this word spawning session would not last.  Oh, they are still flowing from me, being deposited in little packets, several hundred words at a time, like tiny little fish eggs, ready to hatch into a shoal of something stunningly beautiful and shimmering.  But I anticipate the arrival of some word eating crabs and other crustaceans very soon, and my roe of inspiration will be gone.  

I'm not being defeatist here, only realistic, and I am preparing myself for hitting the wall.  (I will now switch unapologetically to a running analogy.)  

Runners have a wall that they hit, and that wall is different for every runner.  When I run I hit the wall at about three miles (do you now have an image of me losing my balance and being so weak that I have no control over my legs so that I run headlong into someone's garden wall?).  I do not run far, and can only do about six miles in total.  But I know, when I hit that wall (by now you will understand that it is a virtual wall, and that it will not cause me to have bruised knees) that I have to keep running to get over it and find my 'second wind' (no comment).  It is just the same with writing - though much less physically painful, and marginally less sweaty - and a writer will encounter many walls over the course of a project.  Successful writers (i.e., those who reach the finish line) are those who get over every wall.  So I'm told.  I don't actually know if this is true, since I have never reached the finish line yet.

But anyway, I have completed week one of NaNoWriMo, exceeding my word goal every day bar one.  I have learnt that I can write plenty of good words every day if I just get on with it and stop stalling.  You may also have noticed that I have learned to 'word pad' to an alarming degree, and that I can now pretty much talk about anything, even if it is not related to the topic I am supposed to be discussing.  This is encouraged in NaNoWriMo.  Also encouraged is self-praise, whether truly deserved or not.  So I must tell you that I am doing a truly excellent job of writing my monthlong novel, and you'll never have read anything so fantastic and diverting in your whole life.

I have also learnt that I can write much, much more in a day than I ever dreamed possible.  Which ever writer told me that we should aim for no more than eight-hundred words a day has done me a great disservice!  That writer, whoever she was, is probably underestimating her own abilities - I know it was a woman, but that's all I know.  She, whoever she was, said that if we aimed too high and tried to write, say, fifteen-hundred words, our writing would be worthless and would just be thrown in the trash anyway.  This is so absolutely not the case.  In the past week I have had several days in which I have just been on a roll, and I have steamed ahead and written two-thousand lovely words.  Of course, you have only got my word for that - but hey, I think my word is good enough.

NaNoWriMo, you have changed my life,

You came into my world to bring me strife.

But I will conquer you, demon task,

I'm getting my words down, oh yes, just ... ask!  (ugh, lame!)

(That's why I don't write poetry.)

So, only ... mmm, mental maths, not my strong point ... twenty-three days left to go.  Can I make it to the end, with my brain intact?  You betcha, I can!  My plot is already getting a little thin and leaky, but I am going to perform some wondrous feats of word plumbing on it, don't you worry.  There's no way I could tell you all about beginning NaNoWriMo, and then fail to finish it - how embarrassing would that be?!

Onward →

(Hey, you know, I think this is the way to go, the way to get the novel done that I've been working on almost fruitlessly for three years - JUST WRITE IT!  JUST WRITE IT ALL DOWN, even if it's crap!  I think it will work - it'll be fun finding out...)


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    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      My goodness. You are a braver and more prolific person that I. If I write 400 words a day I am amazed. I don't think I ever have. My usual is 300, and even with that I am patting myself on the back.

      I have something I have been writing since before 4th February of last year and have only managed 19,063 words so far. I believe it may be about three quarters or two thirds finished. OK, so I've written some stuff to keep me amused on HP. but still!!!

      Good luck to you, my friend, and I hope yours is a blockbuster.

    • michael ely profile image

      michael ely 6 years ago from Scotland

      Hi Linda, Great to see another Hub from you. Always worth a read. Best of luck with this task although you seem to be doing brilliantly at it anyway. All the best, Michael.

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 6 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Hello my dear friend Lady, I'm glad to see you, and I understand this hub like any writer would. When I get a block, I just stop writing. Then I return in a frenzy...Keep going, I find that if I take my laptop to a coffee house, sit by myself you can steal energy from all the people around you and I become so inpired to write. So think about that my dear dear friend. Great hub rate up, good luck love & peace darski

    • Elefanza profile image

      Elefanza 6 years ago from Somewhere in My Brain

      I LOVED this hub! It was quite funny and witty, not to mention inspirational, encouraging, and exactly what I need. Oh, and your poem....hilarious! I am still working on my novel at the moment...according to my outline, I have a mere three chapters to go. And I can't wait to give birth to this babe...(I've never given birth, but writing this novel feels like that). I love the idea of encouraging yourself. Now I shall bike to a place, oh must you ask, where writing this novel is my sole task!

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      :) Thank you friends, how I've missed you. I will be back permanently soon, hubbing contentedly.

      Twilight - it's not really about quantity, at the end of the day, you know that. I'm sure that your carefully crafted 19,063 words are far superior to my 21,733 words of random waffle. Of my words, I would be surprised if any more than 342 make it through a first edit! But it's a good exercise nonetheless.

      Thanks Michael :) Truly, anyone could do this task if they decided to take it on. My little 'novel' will probably need about seven years' worth of work to make it readable, lol.

      Darski, what a superb idea, to sit in a coffee shop and steal energy from the other latte drinkers! I'm going to do that, definitely :) Thank you my friend.

      Elefanza, thank you indeed :) Ha! I put such a lot of effort into that poem (mmm!), so I'm very glad that you enjoyed it. You are right, it is like giving birth - and I have given birth three times, so I can confirm that you've picked the perfect analogy :) Oh, the most tremendous good luck with the last three chapters! Almost there :)

      Linda.

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

      A challenge you've taken that is helping you go further with the task of writing in itself, it seems. No doubt you will finish in time and bring your story to its conclusion. A story within a story. Best of luck anyway. Inspiring challenge! What a great idea. Never heard of it. Is it too late to start?

    • Twilight Lawns profile image

      Twilight Lawns 6 years ago from Norbury-sur-Mer, Surrey, England. U.K.

      342 words? Interesting number. I have read your writings, and I am sure, absolutely sure that yours won't be waffle. I like the way you write, very much.

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      Ooh, it's never too late to start chs, just start whenever you like. Or wait for November, and take part in the official monthlong challenge - there are charts and inspirational things online (presumably at something like nanowrimo.com - I'm not sure, I can check!) I would like to take on the challenge again in November myself. It IS a great idea - I'm learning so much, and heartily recommend it.

      Twilight - I enjoy choosing random numbers, it's just something I do :P Hmm, but this story I am writing is not much like my hub writing - I'm trying to imagine that I know how to speak like wot they did in the Regency period, and I blatantly do not! But it's fun all the same.

      Offline again from tomorrow - I can't STAND being away from the Hub of things! Hope I can be back soon :(

      Linda.

    • sammyfiction profile image

      Sammy 6 years ago from Australia

      Congrats on your first week! (or getting into your second now) :P 18th century ghost story sounds very interesting!! I saw the challenge in November, but had no idea that you could do it Outside of it! Fascinating :)

      I thought about it, but I'm so ever easily distracted by things that dont relate - or at the moment the Australian Open (tennis) - and time time time, I dont think I could do that many words in such a short time!

      Weldone on your amazing feat!

      :) SF

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      I'm not actually getting close to week four, I'm behind with writing about the writing! It's getting very difficult now, and I was so close to quitting last night :S Didn't quit though - ploughed on with it.

      It's difficult to start from scratch and, with no planning, write so many words on a new novel idea. But I'm going to try this approach with the novel I've been working on, and I'm looking forward to that - it will be a lot of fun, and very liberating I think.

      Anyway, I'm actually starting to touch upon a subject that I'd like to leave for my final NaNoWriMo hub, so I'll stop right there!

      Thanks for your encouragement sammy.

      Linda.

    • ZozieM profile image

      ZozieM 6 years ago from London, UK

      Hmmm, as ever I'm a little behind the bandwagon here, but this sounds like a fab idea for getting the words on the page - I'm endlessly procrastinating on 3 projects at the moment (1 play, 1 TV show treatment, and 1 novel). Time to get arse in gear I feel! Will certainly give this a go for the novel, and see if I can adapt it for poetry and scripts too...

    • Lady Wordsmith profile image
      Author

      Linda Rawlinson 6 years ago from Lancaster, UK

      It's excellent for learning about the way you want to write. I'm abandoning the story that I wrote for this project, because I hate it and it's rubbish :D But I did learn a lot about myself as a writer, about my capabilities, and about my limitations being far beyond what I would have expected. In this project you might write 80% junk - but 20% of 50,000 words is still a huge improvement on 20% of no words at all! I will be using this way of working again - in fact, I'm using it all the time now, to some extent.

      You could use it for any type of writing at all, just set your own limit and make that limit a little more than you would normally feel able to write in each day. You could write a play in a month, definitely. Have fun Zo :)

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