For those who don’t know, National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place every year during the month of November—thirty days of literary abandon, intended to bring together professional and amateur writers in the joy of writing. The goal is 50,000 words* in 30 days, which breaks down to 1667 words per day, if you write steadily. That’s hard to do, but that’s the most important thing.
I started writing just after midnight. I had a plan, but in writing as in life, plans don’t always work out. I’ve had a heck of a year—a nasty divorce, a lot of drama, and last week I was laid off from my job. My plan was to use all of that emotional fodder as inspiration and to write as honestly and truthfully as possible. I hoped that eventually I’d find a genre twist or a metaphor that I could use to better tell my story. In the meantime, I was just going to focus on writing truth (which is difficult) and becoming a better writer (which is more difficult).
After about 3000 words, it wasn’t working. I was writing impatiently, just rushing to get through the events like a checklist. It wasn’t good writing, and I wasn’t feeling it. I decided to sleep on it (It was 2 a.m., after all) and in the morning I had new perspective. I found two possibilities—one was the metaphor I’d been looking for, and the other was a way to reinvent a novel I’d written during undergrad. I like both ideas, but I think I need to do more prewriting before tackling them. There’s a lot to be said for not overthinking, but it’s also not good to force an idea that isn’t ready.
Now I’ve decided to do a complete overhaul on the book that I wrote as my graduate thesis project three and half years ago. I think this is the perfect opportunity to make it into the book it ought to be.
Today was a warm-up. I’m setting aside the 5000 words I wrote today and starting in the morning with a clean slate, ready to make Day 2 count.
*For those who don’t typically write long documents or keep track of word counts, here’s a little perspective on that 50,000 word goal:
30,644 – Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Roald Dahl
47,094 – The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
77,325 – Philosopher’s Stone – JK Rowling
95,022 – The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien