It started with a dream – something was buried in a garden… The idea swirled around in my head for a few days, becoming ever more detailed, so I noted it down. The note grew longer, and within a week I had a plan for the first half of a new novel. That was when I realised the date – it was Halloween. And I thought, why not try it properly this year?
November is National Novel Writing Month, when writers of all sorts and conditions aim to write 50,000 words of a novel. You can sign up to the NaNo website, and cheer each other on on social media, and if you succeed, you have a nice chunk of your work-in-progress done.
So off I went. I didn’t sign in officially, but I kept to my target of 1,700 words a day to complete the task. Having a plan already set out helped, as I didn’t need to work out what-happened-next all the time, and it also helped that Switzerland in November is fairly conducive to staying indoors with your mug of coffee and your laptop. I made my 50K with four days to spare, and heaved a sigh of relief.
Plus points of the experience:
An outside target like that does keep you focussed.
I got my plot going more quickly than I usually would. Instead of stopping to mull something over, I marked the place on the ms to mull over later, and carried on.
It was fun – and motivating – to see the word count grow all the way up to 50K. Below is the badge you get when you do it officially – which I didn’t, but I borrowed one anyway…
Only one, but it’s a biggie.
I felt I didn’t have nearly enough time to develop the characters. They were going through the motions, pushing the plot on, but they weren’t doing it as people in their own right, they were just figures in a story. As soon as I reached my 50K I stopped, went back to the beginning and started to make my paper people into themselves and not cut-outs. And that’s what I’m still doing, two weeks later.
Will I do NaNoWriMo again? I’m not sure. I think I would need to spend more time preparing, especially the characters, to make the experience more satisfactory. But 50K is 50K, and 20K more than I normally manage even in a good month. So the answer’s a definite maybe.