We are now four days into November, so it's time to check in and see how all you WriMoers are doing. This is my first year doing NaNo, and I did cheat and start writing in October. So my current word count of 35k words is serious false advertising. But I am definately hoping to finish my rough draft by November 30th. And I wanted to give a little encouragement to all the other writers out there trying to complete a draft this month.
Technically, this is my first time doing NaNo, but last winter I wrote a book in seven weeks. I didn’t outline. I didn’t strategize for months. I just wrote it. And I revised as I was going. That book earned me an agent in less than 24 hours, and is now out on sub, so I guess that means it's pretty good. I wrote it in Jan/Feb/Mar not in November, but I sort of felt like it was NaNo as I was writing it. So for all of you WriMoers I’m going to tell you what I did.
I got the idea for the story on Jan 20th. The idea was pretty coherent when it formed in my mind. I didn’t know all the details, but I understood the main character and I had a very general sense of the beginning middle and end. When I was hit with the idea, I wrote down a short story summary to cement my idea (about two pages). Then I just started typing.
January 20th was a Thursday. And I didn’t do anything but write that entire next weekend. By the following Monday, January 24th, I had 30k words. Then my life crept back up on me and I slowed down a bit. I was still writing every minute I could, but I was also spending more time thinking about what I was writing. I hadn’t done any planning, so I had to stop and figure out what the book I was writing was really going to be about. I wrote another 4k words during the next week and then on Jan 29th I began revising the 34k words I had.
After cutting a few characters, reworking some scenes, and doing a bit more outlining to plan what I was writing towards, I dove in and finished the book. I hit the 50k word mark on February 13th (three and a half weeks after I started writing). So by NaNo rules, I totally won. But the story wasn’t done yet. It took me another full month to complete my 64k word first draft. This is because I didn’t just sit down and write the last 15k words and call it good. I re-wrote a lot of those first 30k words that I banged out in 4 days. I did what it took to make my beginning middle and end all jell together into a coherent story.
Seven weeks to write a clean first draft is still pretty fabulous. And I hope I’ll be able to repeat that magic again this month. Because writing like that really is magic. It's the most amazing feeling in the world. And I'm so excited for all of the people who are trying to create their own magic this month. If I could do it, there is no reason why you can't do it too.
Oh, and just to infuse a bit of reality into this post. Please note that even that “good first draft” that I wrote in seven weeks wasn’t that good. I gave my manuscript to six different beta readers and spent three more months doing a lot more revising before I had the polished manuscript that landed me my fabulous agent. So if you were thinking about querying on December 1st, think again.
But good luck. I wrote 50k words in less than 30 days last winter. Heck, I wrote 30k words in 4 days. It is possible. And it is really really fun. So enjoy yourself. And stop procrastinating by reading blogs. And go write something.