Why did thousands of people set a crazy goal of 50K words in a month?
Why did writers all over the country start, fall behind, panic, and race to catch up the last week of November?
Why did they sneak in a few words, a few chapters, between courses of Thanksgiving dinner?
Because they are writers!
We crazy, lonely sect who have a passion for the written word have spent the entire month of November trying to crank out 50 thousand words of a novel. Some made it, others failed. (I’m one of the failures.) Yet even those who didn’t reach that insanely high goal don’t feel like failures. I know I don’t.
Here's How My Month Went:
Week 1 - The hardest part was finding time to write. I cut out my usual online game breaks, ignored Facebook (and the laundry) and just wrote. The story was fresh and begging to be written. From the moment Honey disintegrated the corner of her blanket to her first bus ride to Hidden Hill High, I was off and writing.
The best day was that first Saturday when I caught up to the goal!
I was stoked. But I knew it wouldn’t last long. Tomorrow was Sunday.
Week 2 - I’d made a personal decision not to work on my novel on Sundays. I like to commit my writings to God’s worship on these days. Sticking to my conviction was hard, because it meant cutting four whole days out of November. But I didn’t regret it.
The second week, I was still struggling to find time to write, but the story was still on fire. Honey was making enemies and friends at her new school, and usually only disintegrating things when she wanted to. In the middle of the week, I found a solution to my time problem. I carried my smartphone everywhere I went and emailed chunks of the writings to myself.
Week 3 - Now, I was starting to get in trouble. The main plotline was complete. Honey had saved the day, and I hadn’t broken 20K yet. I began the online games and Facebook again. I was looking for something to add in those pinholes of my novel.
Have you ever had a cavity that the dentist thought was little until she started drilling? I was missing a whole chunk of Honey's character: her life before Hidden Hill. Didn’t she have any friends? Connections to her old school? Those things don’t just go away when you transfer. My story was reignited!
Week 4 - During Thanksgiving break, a friend gave me something you just can’t wrap: TIME. She watched my kids the whole day so I could write. How awesome is that?
I sat down at my computer to began filling plotholes. But first I grabbed that chunk I’d emailed from my smartphone. That’s when I saw an email from a fellow writer. She’s working on a narrative non-fiction about the damaging affects of addiction on enablers. I’d edited her book and had some suggestions for back matter. My friend needed me to send the back matter again. ASAP.
So my novel was postponed while I dug up the documents in question and sent them off. I wanted to get right back to it, but there was something else I needed more: SLEEP. I’d been up with the baby every night the week before. I decided my novel could wait, and sleep was more important.
So how many words did I write on my novel that glorious day with no kids? About 3000. By this point, I was pretty sure I would not make 50K.
Final Count - On November 30th, my goal was just to reach 25K. I knew I wouldn’t get all those promised goodies (I was really looking forward to the publishing opportunities), but I wasn’t near as disappointed as you would expect.
The final count was 26,214. Over my final goal, under my initial one. But I’m proud of every written word. I have a decent first draft of DetnoGirl, a YA novel about a high school sophomore who has a villain's superpower.
NANOWRIMO was so fun. So crazy. So awesome. And I hope to see all you writers there next year.
And Now? - Now, I’m putting DetnoGirl aside for two weeks. Maybe Honey’s too old for the story level. Maybe she’s not modern enough. Maybe she has the wrong classes. I don’t know. But I’m not touching it until I have fresher eyes to read with.
But you don’t have to wait. You can read my first draft here: