It’s been quite a while since the end of NaNoWriMo 2016! As everyone is celebrating Christmas with their families I come to you today with my reflections on the month of novel writing.
This was the third time I participated in NaNoWriMo. The first was a decade ago while the other was in 2014. I didn’t get past 5,000 words each time. But this year was different, in good ways and in bad.
I was optimistic this time and thought I could finish writing 50K words since I had planned this story for 6 months! Why all the planning? You ask? Why not just writing a simple story? Well, ever since I decided to become a writer (when I was 7), I wanted my story not just to entertain, but to say something about something. Something that is enjoyable to read and has memorable characters, but also makes a comment about larger human society. I know most authors advise young writers not to set out to write something that will become a literary classic, but I don’t care. I’m aiming high.The best writers, like Stephen King, tell writers to write something truthful. To him, and to me, this is the most important thing. I’m setting out to write a novel that makes a larger comment about the human condition and I’m not apologizing for it. It may take me 2, or 5, or 10 novels until I get there, but my hope is that is that someday I will write something great; something timeless; something memorable.
The good news from this month is that I wrote 50,000 words! All mostly during the first two weeks. The bad news is that most of it was background information — most of it will not end up in the novel.
Here are a few important things I’ve learned about novel writing this short month:
1. Interruptions WILL happen. In the first week of NaNoWriMo my brother ended up in the Emergency Room in the hospital. He’s fine now, but I was the one who he told about his pain, and I was the last person to see him before he was rushed off to the hospital. He had another incident later in the month. But he’s much better now. The whole ordeal threw off my schedule. I became stressed out because my brother was ill and could not concentrate, as it normal when anyone in your family becomes sick. My family also had guests toward the end of November which threw me off a few days as I was helping my mom prepare. So that along with my brother getting sick were two setbacks for my novel this month.
2. My novel is NOT a novel. It’s actually a series of novels. I’m not sure yet if it’s a trilogy, or a 7-part series like Harry Potter, perhaps it’s more or less. My research and notes are causing my novel to be more of a universe than a single story. I’m excited about the possibilities of my expanded universe, but that also means I’ll need to put in more work before the first novel gets finished.
3. I CAN write 50K words in a month! I worked very hard all month. I downloaded a word counting app, I kept an audio log of my daily progress/research, and I sat down and wrote — usually early in the morning. I adjusted my calendar somewhat, and allowed myself an extra few days, up til the 10th of December if I needed to finish the novel. NaNoWiMo has its schedule to finish and win the competition by the 30th, but since this is MY novel, I decided I could give myself a few more days if that’s what I needed to write a novel I was satisfied with. The extra 10 days didn’t do much for me, as my story just became bigger and bigger, still, it reminded me a. I can adjust the schedule if I need to, 2. I can write 50,000 words in a month, just like all those other NaNo writers!
It was a good month overall. I learned more about my writing style and abilities. I don’t know if I will ever do NaNoWriMo again, as I’m planning on finishing my first novel before the end of next year, 2017, but it’s not completely off the list of possible ways to complete a novel!
To those who are celebrating Christmas or December celebrations, I want to say Happy Holiday to you and your families. For those who are on break from school, I hope you have a relaxing and stress-free holiday! Take care.