NaNoWriMo 2022 – Past the Halfway Point

November 18, 2022 Quotes, writing 0

Quote graphic: "Exercise the writing muscle every day, even if it is just a letter, notes, a title list, a character sketch, a journal entry. Writers are like dancers, like athletes. Without that exercise, the muscles seize up." -- Jane Yolen

We’re past the halfway point of NaNoWriMo 2022

And I’m not where I wanted to be. A deadline on another, unrelated project left me with little writing time for several days, and none at all on the day before the deadline. Then I got my Covid booster and lost a few more days to post-booster exhaustion, both physical and mental. (My brain felt like mush. And the first of those days, I slept most of the day.)

BUT… I am back to writing every day, exercising those writing muscles. I’m still aiming for 50,000 words by midnight on November 30 (even if I probably won’t make it.) And I’m ready to commit to making time to write regularly for the foreseeable future — even though it will cut down on my available time for other hobbies, like blogging and fiber arts.

I’m not sure what “regularly” will look like yet, but I hope it will be a certain amount of time every day, even if that’s only half an hour. I would like to make it 500 words per day, but I know there will be days I just can’t manage that (I’m not a fast writer), so a minimum amount of time seems like a better goal.

Where I am

Total words written as of Thursday, 11/17: 18,809. Where I should be: 28,339.

Not all of those words are keepers; in fact, a lot of them will end up in the deleted-scenes file, or are snippets that I won’t end up using. I’m still coming to grips with the “don’t edit as you write” idea, and I had to totally rethink the initial two chapters in order to know how to proceed. I ended up sketching out what I want to do in chapter one (to be rewritten in draft 2), and I’m rewriting chapter two now, because it just seemed impossible to continue without coming to grips with the major revelation the main character has to deal with in that chapter. (It’s sort of a “Yer a wizard, Harry” moment — that moment when the character’s entire understanding of the world changes.) Without that foundational scene, I couldn’t move forward, so I’m writing it. Originally, I had planned for it to happen several chapters later, but that just wasn’t working in terms of the flow and pacing. I needed to introduce the fantasy elements sooner.

All of which is to say that even if I make it to 50K words, I won’t actually have a completed first draft. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have anyway. I’m pretty sure this book will end up somewhere between 75K and 200K, and I’m fine with that.

I’m also OK with the idea of not “winning” NaNoWriMo. In my mind, I’ve already won. My goal may be 50K words in a month, but my whole reason for doing NaNoWriMo in the first place was to get over my inertia and actually start writing the book that’s been lurking in my head for 8 years or more. So from that point of view, I have already succeeded. And I have discovered that I’m not quite as bad at plotting as I thought I was, and that I really like writing, at least when the words are flowing.

Is it any good? Some of it is awful, and some of it is OK, and there are bits here and there that might turn out to be good. But it’s a first draft, and I’m just starting to learn how to write fiction, so that seems like a reasonable ratio to me. I subscribe to the Shannon Hale school of thought: in the first draft, you’re just shoveling sand into the sandbox. It’s in subsequent drafts that you really build the sandcastle.

Will this book ever be published? Honestly, it probably won’t, and that’s fine too. Most first books go through multiple rewrites before they are published — if they ever get published at all. (Maggie Stiefvater’s first book, Ballad, went through something like 8 versions.) Most writers write several books before they have one that’s good enough to be published. And a lot of writers never get published at all. I want to finish this draft, because I want to find out where the story goes. After that, we’ll see. Stay tuned!

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