I decided it would be "fun" to participate in Nanowrimo again this year. It was the second time I've done it - I "won" back in 2005.
What inspired me this time was not only that I had a new idea for a story and wanted to kick out a first draft, but also the program that I'd pined for was FINALLY being released in a Windows version. You could download a trial, and then if you won, you'd get 50% - $20 - off at the end of November. Wouldn't it be fun, I reasoned, to earn the program I so badly wanted? And then every time I opened it, I could think, I got this because I wrote a novel.
I finished yesterday - 8 days early. It. was. hard. The writing isn't hard. The not knowing is hard. The doubt that you can easily spread out with any other project is all smooshed together in one intense 30 day (or in my case 22 day) period. It's all the usual stuff - Can I do it? Is this the right direction? Do I have enough story? Do I have enough time? But writing is always easier when you just shut up and do it. The last several days were the easiest because I let myself do just that.
So anyway. Here's how I did it:
- I wrote by hand then typed it up in Scrivener each day.
- I had already done several months of pre-writing. The only way I know how to get a story down is to just start talking to myself. You might call it outlining, you might call it thinking, whatever. I get stories by putting a pen in my hand and words on the page.
- BUT - when I started on the story, I put my notes away and told it from scratch and watched things bloom that I hadn't even realized I'd planted.
- I wrote my beginning and my ending on the first day.
- I averaged 2,300 words a day, 7 days a week. I had one day of 800 words and several days of 4 and 5,000 words.
- I did all of my Novel writing on top of my normal daily writing - which is 500-1,000 words a day, 7 days a week.
- My Halloween decorations are still up.
- We ate a lot of frozen pizzas.
And I learned again the same lesson I have to keep learning over and over.
You don't need the perfect writing program, the perfect computer, pen, paper, supplies to get your writing done. This year I wrote while talking to people, while movies I really wanted to watch played in the background, on I-35, in a tire store somewhere in Oklahoma (due to a minor tire emergency), in a hotel room with loud teenage girls, in a hotel lobby with loud dance moms. And SpongeBob. I probably wrote to the sound of SpongeBob more than anything else.
You don't need perfect surroundings. You don't need inspiration. You don't need to know what you are doing. You just need to want it bad enough that nothing else (Facebook, blogging, taking down Halloween decorations, lunch with friends, reading, watching movies, watching TV shows, walking the dog) matters. It's not forever. It's just for now. And everything that wasn't an emergency got told to wait. That's how I got it done.
And I already know that what feels like a bad day doesn't necessarily mean the words are bad. Bad writing can happen on good days. Good writing can happen on bad days. How you feel about something rarely reflects how it really is. So in many ways, you're like a pirate burying treasure for later.
But I digress.
So anyway. For 22 days I lived in an old manor with a creepy gray girl lurking in the shadows and portraits on the wall that seemed to be alive. And I earned my $20 off.
It was so worth it.