So I’ve managed to stick with NaNoWriMo for the first week. I’ve managed to find time to write every day, much to my surprise – but thought it would be a good idea to detail my writing journey through this month. When I completed my other first draft back in June, it took a while for the idea to sink in. I’d written a novel. That was such an alien concept to me: something I’d always aspired to but thought I’d never achieve because something else always came up, or I got bored of the idea, and to write something that long was far too much of a commitment anyway – I would never find the time. But I did it – and when November came around this year I was determined to prove to myself that I could do it again.

A brief synopsis of my novel, so I don’t sound too cray cray: Project Fear (working title) was inspired by the Brexit campaign and result – politicians saying that a situation is going to be far worse than it is if we stay or if we leave and both sides accusing the other of fear mongering. Project Fear is based in an underground bunker where a society has been living for centuries after a nuclear war, for the protagonist to find out via an accidental meeting of a stranger that in fact – plot twist! – there was no nuclear war.

Day one went really well. I clocked in way over my daily aimed word count (1,667), and managed to describe a lot of world building stuff that’s going to be crucial to understanding the setting.

Day two was a different story. I opened up my notebook and stared at where I’d left the story yesterday, and froze. What to write next? Where did I need to go? I was filled with a sense of dread that I didn’t have enough to say about my story, despite feeling so positive about it the day before. I was terrified that the details were all wrong, and it wasn’t coming across exactly how I wanted it to. If I was so unsure about what to write next when I was only just starting, would I really be able to carry on writing for a whole month? I was feeling overwhelmed with failure, and it was only the second of November. One comforting thought was this was the same feeling of terror I had when writing my dissertation novel. This is what first drafts are for – to get your creativity down on paper, go over things you’re unsure of and to let you work through your ideas. I kept clinging to this thought when what I’d written down made me cringe – I could work over it later. It was much more important to write something down, rather than edit and end up with a perfect paragraph, but not much else.

Despite the despair of day two, I managed to pull out a phenomenal writing day on day three. I sat writing for most of the day, and plodded out a solid 5,440 words, further detailing world building and finally got in one of the major plot points – most of this admittedly exposition that will probably be cut when I get around the editing it, but I found it best to let go of my inner editor or I wouldn’t have gotten any words on to the page. I’d like to think these are just the bare bones of my new story, and when I come back to it after November I can clean it up and make it far more appealing to readers. At the moment I’m still figuring out this new world I’ve created, and I need this exposition to understand my characters and the world they’re in. Bad habits die hard. This good writing day made me feel way more positive than the day before had, even though I still managed to pass the daily word aim with 2,400 then anyway.

Day four had a rocky start, but turned out to be another brilliant writing day. I manage to clock in another decent 4,000ish words, bringing my total up to near 17,000. I started to believe I could do this – maybe I am capable of writing a novel in a month. Despite there having been only four days so far, I had way exceeded my expectations. I’d expected to get maybe a decent first day, then slowly start to slack off until my writing dries up and all of a sudden it’s the end of the month and I haven’t managed to prove to myself what I can do. Even more surprisingly, I’ve been struck with a bout of creativity for my first novel. This was something I definitely didn’t expect, and couldn’t believe it when at 11pm I was furiously scribbling down plot points to add to my first draft when I get around to editing it; stuff that seems so obvious and simple which I hadn’t even thought of before. I also now feel way more confident with where I want to take this particular NaNo piece. After one page in particular, I could see it so clearly in my mind’s eye that I knew I was onto the right track. After day four, I definitely felt more confident that I could do this.

Saturday was a more relaxed writing day – because I was busy all day, I only managed to squeeze in another 1,000 words before midnight. Seeing as this brings my total up to 18,000ish, and I’ve been way more productive this week than I thought I would be, I didn’t think it mattered too much. I’m starting to get more of a feel for the characters and who they are as people, especially more of how they interact with one another. I’m feeling way more confident with my story than when I started.

Sunday was a bit of a soul crusher – I spent most of my free time trying to type up what I’d written. I got to about a third through and had only typed up 6,000 words – which meant that I’d overestimated my word counts for the first two days. Luckily, thinking of there being an average of 150 words per page multiplied by how many pages I’d written, it seems my word count is at around 16,000ish words. It was disheartening to see I hadn’t written as much as I thought I had, but I’m way ahead of where I should be with writing 1,667 words a day, so hopefully I can stick to my novel until the end of November. Bring on week two!

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