Hello friends! Did you miss us? Let’s never be apart again. Ever.
As Keely mentioned on Tuesday, our lives got a little busy the second December hit and, to be perfectly honest, I think we both needed a slight break from ever-present writing deadlines after the insanity that was NaNoWriMo.
So, even though I’m nearly 20 days late, I’d like to take this opportunity to pick up where we left off, and review my crazy, shot-in-the-dark, overly-caffeinated, sleep deprived first attempt at writing a novel. Who’s with me? Here we go…
During NaNoWriMo, I learned…
1. That Coffee is My Best Friend and Worst Enemy
I was a late boarder on the coffee train. It took me until I was about 21 to enjoy drinking it regularly, and even now there are some days when I can go without it. The catch? I’m a creature of habit. Like, to my own determent most days. And what is an intense writing session without a fresh cup of coffee? Nothing. The answer is it’s nothing. AKA, words rarely actually get written without its assistance. This means that my November sleep deprivation was not due to unfinished daily word counts…it was due to a monstrously unhealthy dose of caffeine that I swear I will never repeat again.
…until next November.
2. That it’s Nearly Impossible Not to Write Yourself into Your Story
I guess this one is just part and parcel with the whole writing thing. No matter what you do, no matter if you write a protagonist that lives on the Moon and leads our Solar System’s Counter Alien-Terrorist Agency, has three heads, a dog for a life-partner and deep-seeded fear of balloon animals—there is going to be part of you in that character…in every character you write, really.
The thing about NaNoWriMo is that you’re writing fast, with little to no editing and, for me at least, that’s when the most of ‘me’ appears on the page. The things that I feel or think or want or am seem to materialize out of thin air when I don’t allow myself to over think.
This was, for me, the hardest aspect of NaNoWriMo—learning to be okay with the—something unflattering—parts of myself I would see reflected back at me. It’s certainly a sensation I’ve experienced before, just never in a 30-day, 50 000 word overload, and it took some effort to power through at times.
Incidentally, I also learned that I reuse the words ‘offer’ and ‘gesture’ so much that they may just account for a fifth of my 50 000 word count all on their own…
3. That I Am A Master of Procrastination
On the morning of November 1st, 2013—the very first day of my very first NaNoWriMo experience, I decided that it was extremely, vitally important to clean every single inch of my apartment. Guys, I have a problem…I’m not just talking a vacuum and some dusting. I actually wiped down every wall and cupboard…and then scrubbed the kitchen floor on my hands and knees.
If I were a psychology professional, I would probably say that this intense overhaul of my (admittedly already clean) apartment on such a day was probably the result of self-doubt and pure terror. But I’m not a psychology professional, so let’s blow past this one, kay?
Extensive research for insignificant plot details and composing extravagant broadway-esque numbers at random times of the day to share with my also-writing roommate, are only a few of the exquisite procrastination tactics I discovered.
However, in case you haven’t seen it yet… this was definitely the best one:
4. That Writing a Novel is Hard
Now there’s an intelligent piece of wisdom if I’ve ever heard one. You’re welcome world. (I should probably write books, hey?)
Seriously though, the gapping plot-holes, the useless characters, the crippling insecurity that knocks you up the side of the head and says—hey, you know there’s a huge chance that no one will ever want to read this, right? The whole process…it’s just gutting. And certainly not recommended if one wishes to maintain their sanity at all times.
I read once that ‘writing a novel’ is one of the most common items on people’s bucket lists, and only 10% of those people ever write a single word. And from there, only 2% finish a first draft. Now these statistics do not stand on a steady platform—I have no idea what kind of research the numbers came from, but for some reason I’ve always used them as incentive.
Few people can write novel, and even fewer actually do.
Which brings me to the final thing this past NaNoWriMo taught me…
5. That Maybe, Possibly, Potentially…I Can Be One of the Few Who Finish
Of course, this is the entire concept of NaNoWriMo—getting the novel written, and boosting your confidence in your abilities along the way. I made it to 50 000 words on November 30th (the general NaNoWriMo goal), but didn’t finish my novel. It will probably double its length in the first draft (and then cut down from there), but the discipline and structure of NaNoWriMo has given me faith that I am capable of doing this.
Despite telling every person and their dog since I was about twelve that I wanted to write a novel, I’m not sure I actually believed I could until now.
So for that and so much more, I certainly owe the folks over at NaNoWriMo a great big thank you for an incredibly fun, exhausting, exhilarating and confidence-boosting month…
And finally—thank YOU for putting up with our incessant nattering about this crazy adventure of ours…
You’re the best!
Have a lovely holiday, artsies!
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