Nanowrimo 2021 starts tomorrow. As of this writing, a whole bunch of word-psychos are stocking up on coffee and snacks, writing notes in regards to where they are leaving off in life, kissing their loved ones good-bye, and are about to declare war on writing apps. Sounds normal.
I’m sitting here writing this on October 31st. When I started this post, I was going to clearly declare that I’m not doing Nanowrimo this year. I have a full time job and enough extracurricular activities that even putting aside expendable activity like television, video games, and reading, would net me a small amount of time for writing.
For me it seems that signing up for Nanowrimo this time would be setting myself up for failure. I felt this way early on. Not signing up for Nano was the safe and easy choice to make. As I read and deleted emails from Nanowrimo, I felt good with my decision. It was liberating.
This morning, October 31st, I began to have a change of heart while checking my emails. I felt compelled to log into the Nanowrimo website. I started looking around. I saw my old projects. The wins and the losses. The enticement of pounding out words and hitting that lofty 1667 daily word goal. That feeling I had when I won Nano back in 2018. The ideal achievement of writing a first draft. Which in actuality is getting a pile of meat to pick at and eventually sculpt into something coherent. Who doesn’t like meat sculpting? Gross!
I’ve done more than a few Nanos. Failing at more than I’ve won, but typically enjoying the time either way. It does feel great to hit that goal. In general it feels good to write. I guess I’m going to need to think on this a bit more. Hmmm.
Are you taking part in Nanowrimo 2021?
I participated in Camp NaNo April 2021 and won! Granted I was editing my book, so the word count bar was set below sea level. Set up for success, there was really no way for me to lose unless I just didn’t do any writing at all. Looking back I should have used hours instead of words. Either way I read my book several times and changed a lot of things. While I had fun, I missed the frenetic pace of a usual NaNo.
There was a different feeling to this one than previous NaNo’s I’ve taken part in. Typically it’s just spewing words from my finger tips as consistently as I can. Just keep writing. Run into a section that isn’t working or causing a blockage of some sort? Move on to something else! Did I just write the same sentence twice? Did I leave out a word or obviously misspell something? I’ll fix it in post! That’s editing for another time! Just do not stop writing! Ever! Get the words out and deal with the mess later.
That’s the advice of every single author I’ve listened to on the matter. First drafts are meant to be absolutely messy and look like you don’t have a clue what is going on. So, I guess I did the first draft correctly.
However, I think I may have to tighten that up a bit after doing some editing. Reading pages and wondering what the heck I meant wasn’t much fun. Though there is a catharsis to deleting entire swaths of text. The kind of sensation that makes one wish that getting rid of other issues in life was just as easy.
With April and another NaNo behind me, I continue to move toward a completed manuscript. There’s still more editing to do, but I’m feeling incredibly excited about finishing it up.
Did anyone else take part in NaNoWriMo? Have you taken part in any previous one? What was your experience like?
I’ve been writing a middle grade book since the July 2020 Camp NaNoWriMo. Well, there was plenty of prep work before then. I remember that I wrote the outline on a ferry ride from Vancouver Island in February of 2020. Prior to that there was the project that this one spun off of. That original project is still being worked on and would be the perfect companion for this book. Though I spectacularly failed Camp NaNo it was where I really started writing the first draft.
The story is a departure from anything else I’ve ever written and is my second middle grade effort. To be perfectly honest, this book has been exactly what I needed to work on in the spare moments of 2020 and 2021. Something that is hopeful, kind, and full of love. Celebrating everyday life and giving respect to the challenges and trials folks face on a day to day basis. Plus, I find the characters are wonderful to spend time with.
My writing time for the last three quarters of 2020 was completely decimated. Almost to the point of non-existence. In addition to the failed Camp NaNo I found time to make some notes here an there, but not much else was done. During the first three months of 2021, I dusted off the project and started adding to it. Fleshing out some parts and bridging any gaps that had been left. Within a few weeks I had a complete rough draft. Once April rolled around I started revising and editing, using Camp NaNoWriMo as motivation. Not that I necessarily need external motivation. I’m already feeling motivated on my own account. The feeling of wanting to finish has now turned into the feeling of needing to finish.
For many years writing a book to completion has been something I’ve wanted to accomplish. It would be absolutely incredible to be able to say, “I wrote book.” Being able to get it in front of readers would be a dream come true.
I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself though. Each day I do some editing and each day I find more I want to change or add. I’m thinking by the fall, I can get a few people to begin beta reading.
What have you been working on? Did 2020 give you the time you needed to write or did it take it take it all away? Did you learn a new skill during 2020?