November 1st 2017
Today I started writing a new novel as part of NaNoWriMo. National Novel Writing Month is an event that takes place every year, where writers are encouraged to write 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November. NaNoWriMo is actually the reason that I started this blog, back in October 2013. I wanted to document my progress as I embarked on my first proper attempt at writing a novel. The documentation of that month starts here, and ends here.
As it turns out, that was also my last successful attempt at writing a novel. I finished wrote 36,000 words that month, which on top of the 24,000 words I’d already written, made up an entire, complete, 60,000 word story. And that, four years ago this month, is the last time I wrote anything of any great significance. I’ve started writing two other books since then, but didn’t get anywhere with either of those.
I first had the inclination to re-try NaNoWriMo again this year about two weeks ago when I realised that November is the month that comes after October (shocking, I know). Although I haven’t written anything properly in the last four years, I do write down every hint of an idea I have. The notes app on my phone is full of character descriptions, plot points, and half-decent lines of prose that I planned to work into a story someday. Over the past couple weeks I’ve been collating those notes into one single document, and it turned out that I’d had more of this story planned than I realised.
So, when I started writing today, I at least knew the direction that I was heading in. The great thing about NaNoWriMo, and something I didn’t really make the most of last time, is the community. On nanowrimo.org there’s forums and message boards and groups for people who have all committed to this same challenge. I’ve read a couple of the advice posts, and have learnt that there are two types of writers: planners and pantsers.
Planners are self-explanatory, but pantsers need explaining. Derived, I assume, from the nonsensical phrase ‘fly by the seat of your pants’, a ‘pantser’ is a writer who just sits down and writes, without the need for weeks of methodical planning and plotting. I think I fall into that category, but it was helpful to have a plan-document-guideline to at least point me in the right direction.
From reading other people’s stories, I’ve also learnt an important piece of advice: it doesn’t matter if it’s shit.
The chances are 90% of this 50,000 word first draft won’t even end up in the final draft, and that’s if you even commit to working on it after NaNoWriMo. So, I’m trying not to get too much in my head, and am just continuing to type without second guessing what I’m typing.
It seems to be working so far. To reach the 50,000 word goal in the 30 days of November you have to average 1,667 words per day. Tod
Today I reached 1,769 words, so at this point I’ll be done with a day to spare.
Until tomorrow, easy peasy.