I’ve been waiting all month to post on this. This year I decided at the last minute to participate in NaNoWriMo, the worldwide challenge to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. I declined to participate last year, oddly enough, because I wasn’t busy enough. This year, I had so much on my plate at the beginning of November that I felt I would have the proper motivation to write consistently.
However, I didn’t want to say much about it, since I wasn’t sure I could actually finish. After all, I had done no planning at all. I would be starting from absolute ground zero. The last time I participated, in 2003, I had done about two months of outlining chapters, writing character bios, and generally getting plot ideas down on paper so that when I actually started writing, I would have a distinct path to follow. Not so this year. So it was with some trepidation that I decided to enter.
Some might say the fear of failure is the motivation for success. In my case, that was partially true. Still, I wasn’t confident enough in myself or my ability to complete the challenge to let many people know what I was doing. A few friends knew, but that’s it.
After a week in, I only had about 8,000 words and I was ready to quit. I had no story, no sense of purpose, and I was already running out of meaningful things to say. The next week I wrote nothing at all, so that by the time the third week rolled around, I was about 15,000 in the hole. But for some reason, I kept dogging it, coming back and filling out the characters and adding what little I could think of to the plot. Elements grew and evolved, shaping into connections that I could begin to see if I squinted, like gossamer threads of spider silk.
Week Three took a turn for the better. Suddenly, I could see more of the story unfolding. I wrote roughly 20,000 words that week, and even though I struggled with some parts, for the most part it flowed effortlessly. I took some time off for Thanksgiving, and then this week made the final push.
Tomorrow is the last day of the NaNoWriMo challenge. But today I surpassed the mark, writing almost 4,000 words to reach 50,600 total. The story is still going. But it’s nearly done. I’ve reset my personal goal to 60,000 by Friday. The story should be wrapped up by then. I know a few people who want to read the manuscript when it’s done. If you would care to be in that group of first readers, email me at jeremiah.lewis @ gmail.com and I’ll send you a copy.
In the meantime, I’m going to revel the rest of this week in my small victory. Man, it feels good to be a winner.