I’ve been pretty quiet on my blog about National Novel Writing Month this year. This wasn’t by design. I’ve just been very busy. When I went into the challenge I wasn’t feeling confident about ‘winning’. I’ve only lost NaNo once, in 2006. What went wrong in 2006, you may well ask. University went wrong. As an Open University student, most of the time I had the wonderful good fortune of an academic year that started in January and finished in October, just in time to completely devote myself to NaNoWriMo. Except for 2006, when the course started in October instead. That year I wrote only 5,000 words.
So let’ s just say I didn’t have very high expectations going into this year. Not only was I only 1 month into a Masters degree, I have the added distraction of two children who weren’t around in 2006, and still work 4 days a week. I planned to fail. I decided that rather than end up with 5000 words of a beginning to abandon I might as well add to one that I still needed to finish. That way even if I only wrote a tiny bit it would at least be a little bit I needed.
At first things did not go well. For the first couple of days getting back into the swing of continuing a story I started six years ago was hard going. Even after spending a couple of months rereading and plotting I didn’t feel very well acquainted with my book. I think my book and I sat together in awkward silence for the first hour of November while I tried to come up with valid reasons to ditch it and wing it on a new one instead. Fortunately the only reason I could come up with was ‘finishing my old book is too hard and I don’t wanna write it’. So since that was a stupid reason, I persevered. I wrote 50,000 words. I finished my book.
So how on Earth did I manage it, with two kids and a job and university, when I failed so badly the last time? I think there are two main factors:
Having a supportive spouse was key! Mark always does NaNoWriMo with me, but after realising he just wasn’t going to be able to make 50,000 words himself this month he’s gone above and beyond the call of duty to make sure I had enough time to do it. Thank you, Markie! I would not have finished the first draft of my book this month without you.
2006 was my 2nd NaNoWriMo attempt. I won the first year, with a story I had planned quite well in advance. I had successfully completed one other novel prior to that and it took me about 7 years to finish that one. I was inexperienced.
This year marked my 10th anniversary of taking part in NaNoWriMo. I’ve also spent much more time outside NaNo editing, done Script Frenzy a couple of times, and done my daily writing challenge. I’ve developed good writing habits in that time, and I think it’s likely that my typing speed has improved. I have got better at doing NaNo :).
What have I learned this year? I’ve learned that if I get up at 6am I can fit a lot of writing in before breakfast, and that’s something I’m going to try and do for the rest of the year as I go through the editing process with this book. I also learned that I can do this with University. I can make a little time for writing every day. And next year I can work on something new because I don’t have to plan to fail next time. I can plan to win 🙂