I’ve always had reservations about NaNoWriMo.
There’s nothing wrong with it and I like the concept of getting your work down so you can fix it, but it was just never for me. Slow and steady, that’s how I would write. Until I didn’t.
I’ve written a few times about writer’s block, which is not exactly what happened to me. In my case, it wasn’t that I didn’t have ideas or that when I sat down to write those ideas wouldn’t come. It was that I got to a point where everything seemed more important and when I did write it was hard to grab a flow that carried me to the next day. As a result, I didn’t write a book last year, the first time in three years that didn’t happen.
Getting back into it was starting to bear fruit and I was plugging away at a sequel to one of my earlier books when I got an idea for another project. It wasn’t my strongest idea or my best idea ever but it seemed like something that could definitely play into my strengths as a writer, as it were. I also came up with a nice hook that got my brain really working.
I’m not sure when I decided to really tear into it, but I started a 1,500 word a day diet. Every day, no matter what else was going on, I was going to knock out 1,500 words a day on this thing. And I did it. On Thursday I finished the first draft of a new novel. I don’t want to go into what it is quite yet other than the elevator pitch, which is “The Shining in a Comedy Club,” but I do want to share some random thoughts I had while I wrote this book.
-My joke is I wanted to “finish the book before I convinced myself it was a bad idea” but I think there’s something to that. Giving the book a read now that I’m done I saw a few places where I could have gotten hung up for weeks had I not just plowed through and moved on.
-Parts of the book aren’t anywhere near as good as they need to be, but there’s excitement in going back and trying to fix them. Tearing through the book like I did I am still fresh on where those are what what I need to fix.
-As always, the wonderful Steph Romanski helped guide the story as it went. I know this doesn’t work for everyone but having a friend read the book as it’s being written is invaluable to my process and also keeps me going. To be clear, this isn’t an “edit” but rather a “the story is compelling, keep going” sort of thing and without it I wouldn’t have a book on my computer waiting to be edited.
-Finding time for 1,500 words is a bit of a challenge but I only fell behind twice – once because of circumstances and another time at the end where I ran out of gas a bit. When you have a goal in mind and you know how long it takes every day to get to that goal, that helps a little bit.
-Being a discovery writer REALLY helped because I wanted to know where the story would end up. Not knowing the end kept me interested.
-Some days suck, but not as many as I thought. In those rare days when the days really sucked I dove into other sections of the book that I knew were coming in order to meet the word count for the day and stitched them into the narrative later.
-Trying to plow through a book quickly left little time for research but I was able to do enough to where substantial changes weren’t going to have to happen. I think. I hope. I’m pretty sure.
-I can’t wait to get it edited and submitted but that wasn’t what gave me a kick in the ass to get the book done. At the end of the day, I think it was the story.
I let you know how it’s going and, worst case scenario, it might end up on this site at some point. Or in bookstores. Hard to tell, but the first draft is done and that’s worth a small celebration.