I Wrote a Novel in 30 Days
I did it!
I FINISHED NANOWRIMO!
I crossed that finish line at 50,006 words around 8PM last night, and it felt AWESOME.
If you’re not familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it’s an annual challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. Over 300,000 people participated this year. This was my second attempt, but my first WIN!
So let me tell you about my experience…
This was supposed to be a video, by the way, but finishing a novel on that kind of deadline is EXHAUSTING, and hey, I’m already on a roll with writing, so why stop now?
At first, writing the novel seemed like a piece of cake. I decided on a fantasy novel about women who keep the balance between good and evil; it was fun, but I wasn’t so completely reinventing the wheel that I needed to do extensive world building. This was an exercise in seeing what I could write after not writing seriously for almost 10 years.
I went into it with nothing but a few bullet points for an outline and a sentence or two to describe each character – no major plan. The target word count each day to reach 50,000 is 1,667 words. No big deal.
Until I got stuck at around 26,000 words. I fell further behind every day. Right before Thanksgiving, I was about to give up. “I wrote 30,000 words this month,” I told my husband. “That’s something to be proud of.”
I don’t Black Friday shop, so I was huddled in my house avoiding crazed shoppers for most of the day (aside from a brief outing to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them – loved it!). That night, I decided I wasn’t going to lose. I wrote 8,000 words in 5ish hours and over the next two days, exceeded my word count goals.
That was the 25th. By the 27th, I was a bleary-eyed word zombie and couldn’t use a laptop comfortably without a wrist brace and glasses. I completed my novel at about 43,000 words and spent the beginning of this week agonizing over what to expand and expound on to reach 50,000. It’s a choppy novel that needs heavy editing, but it’s complete!
- This is the first thing I’ve ever written that made me cry while I was writing it. I bawled through the last four pages.
- This is the first thing I’ve ever written in which I like the characters and story enough that I’m considering writing a sequel.
Things I Learned:
- I can still write. I didn’t lose my ability just because I took a long hiatus.
- That thing people always talk about where characters take over the story and you can’t control them is a real phenomenon. My book was supposed to have a happy ending and the characters decided otherwise somewhere around chapter 8. Hence, the crying.
- Other things in my life will have to suffer to take on an enormous project like NaNoWriMo. Part of me wants every month to be NaNo, and part of me is so relieved that it’s only once a year. I’m excited to get back to working and sleeping normal hours, learning languages, and READING novels in December. In fact, all I want to do in December is decompress from November.
People keep asking me what I win…do I get it published? Is there a prize? No. I got a certificate, which was nice. The prize is that I get to tell people that I WROTE AN ENTIRE BOOK IN 30 DAYS and bathe in my personal satisfaction. Trust me, after the literal sweat and tears I put into this book, it’s enough.
While I plan to edit it so that it’s readable for friends and family who are pestering me about it, I have no desire to clean it up and publish it at this point, much to my family’s disappointment. This wasn’t about writing something publishable. It was about reversing the atrophy of my writing muscles and proving to myself that I could conquer something HUGE that I really wanted.
If you did NaNo this year, tell me how you did! If you’re interested in trying a similar challenge before next November, check out Camp NaNoWriMo in April and July for a more flexible writing challenge.
I am off to eat German chocolate a friend from Leonberg sent me and catch up on sleep! Keep writing, and keep kicking ass at big things! xoxo