Exactly one month ago I officially signed up for National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is an annual event where hundreds of thousands of people commit to one big goal: completing a novel — 50,000 words — during the month of November.
I already had an idea, I’d had it for years (and years and years). I’d wanted to participate in NaNoWriMo before, but watched it pass me by more than once because it seemed so daunting. I was tired of not getting started. I think it was Flip Wilson who said you could never expect to hit the jackpot without putting a few coins in the machine. So, I decided it was time, and I would do it — but on the sly, because once you say it out loud you have to own it, and that’s a whole other thing.
Then, on the very day that I decided to go for it, my friend Whitney sent me this:
— Whitney (@itisprettyblog) November 3, 2013
She had no idea I was doing NaNoWriMo!
Since I am not one to snub my nose at signs, or fate, or karma, or jinxes, or black cats or anything else that might adversely affect a potentially good outcome, of course I saw this as a direct message to my newly undertaken plight. So I went straight to the NaNoWriMo website, and I signed up. Officially. Suddenly my name was listed on their site with the word “Author” underneath it, and I had a word count posted for all the world to see (or at least the other Wrimos). Pressure. Freedom. Excitement!
To stay on track means writing 1,667 words each day. I stayed on track for about a week before hitting a roadblock. I knew that a particular something had happened, and I knew the result of that event. But I didn’t know why it happened, or how. I was stuck.
I went to sleep and woke up thinking about the why. I did research, and thanks to my cousin Lora’s expertise, I got affirmation on a major plot point. Finally, I figured out the glitch. And during that time I was thinking and not writing, I mapped out a two-page plot grid that covers 18 chapters. It was like lighting the biggest, most ferocious crackling fire I’d ever seen.
I did not write 50,000 words.
I ended November at 11,709 words. It might not seem like much of an effort toward a 50,000 goal, but let me put it in perspective. 11,709 words equates to almost 50 pages, which is twice as long as the longest short story I’ve ever written. I would like to have come away with more, but lots of good came from NaNoWriMo.
I’m still figuring out parts of the story arc. I’m still learning new things about my characters. Some parts of the story remain fuzzy. But, for the most part, it’s all in my head now. I have it. I have it!
Now it’s time to get to work.
November may be over, but I am just getting started.