Wednesday, November 16, 2011

15 Days of NaNoWriMo

At the very outset, this post would not have seen the light of day if my NaNoWriMo track record were poor. Today, as the fifteenth day of NaNoWriMo comes to a close, my word count graph has kissed the day's target of 25,000 words.

I thought NaNoWriMo (or NaNo, as it is fondly called) was only about writing a novel in one month. I couldn't have been more wrong. It's a whole bunch of things altogether, and not all of them related to writing.

It's about getting obsessed with your story. It's about finding reasons not to do other things so that we can write. It's about connecting with other writers, hearing about their efforts and speaking about our own. It is about watching our story develop at a pace we would never achieve otherwise. It is about twitchy fingers and pounding hearts. It is about ignoring everyone and everything else. It is about thinking about your plot or fine-tuning dialogs, even when you are talking to others. It is about numbers - number of words per day, number of words to go, number of days to go.

Different people have different ways of NaNo-ing. Whether they are working on an already-begun novel, or writing a new one, or finishing a couple of novellas or short stories, it all boils down to one goal - 50K words in a month.

All the people who start NaNo do not necessarily complete it. The initial enthusiasm fades, or life intervenes in more ways than one, or ideas refuse to flow, or priorities change. If a day or two of writing is lost, especially when you are exactly on schedule as prescribed by NaNo, it becomes very difficult to catch up. But as NaNo-ers constantly comfort each other, whatever you achieve in this month is better than not writing at all !

Unless you do a complete and detailed planning (and in some cases even if you do it), the characters and the plot have a way of getting ahead of you, and totally surprising you. You follow right behind them, sometimes getting lost and sometimes finding your way.

The build-up to NaNoWriMo is exhausting. You suffer from trepidation, anxiety, and a very complicated sickness called struggling-to-contain-the-words. You are allowed to start writing only on Nov 1, so whatever comes to mind before that has to be safely stored in mind or jotted in vague terms, ready to be documented at the stroke of midnight.

Since so much is stored before it starts, the first week of 1667 words per day seems like a piece of cake. But by the second week, you begin to look up the word count every half-second and groan - "What?! Another 800 words before I can sleep??"

Having a group to share the joys and sorrows with is absolutely essential. No, it is not that we all are going to collaborate and write one novel together or anything. Most often we don't even know what the others are writing. But at some point we would need motivation, inspiration and encouragement from those who really understand our plight.

Fatigue sets in about ten days into dedicated NaNo. Wrists begin to complain, head begins to grumble and sometimes thoughts flow faster than we can type, vanishing before we grab them. The result? - a quickly-framed sentence with words missing in it. Unless we are ahead by a few thousand words, luxuries like films, friends, outing, parties et al are better avoided as they would eat into our precious writing time.

In a typical NaNo-er attitude, I look up at this blog and tell myself, "Wow, 500-odd words. I wish I could add this to my novel. Today's effort would have been partially done."

But no, I need to go and tackle the 1700 words for today...


  1. Jeena,your graph looks remarkably like mine, except I am just a few less than 1,000 words short of the 25k mark.
    It certainly is nice to be in touch with at least one other person who does not do incredible daily word-counts, and is not sitting comfortably days or even weeks ahead of schedule.
    Thanks for this post.

  2. I love the way you put this. I'm ahead of the game, technically, but that's because I am not allowed to participate in NaNo during the Wednesday through Sunday time of Thanksgiving (and in the case of this year, it'll be difficult to fit writing into my day starting as early as Monday of next week). Like, I am forbidden by my family, and in writing during those days, my husband will consider it grounds for divorce. words must be written in the rest of the time. Weekends are difficult, too. I calculated I would have seventeen (that's ONE SEVEN) days to write this month. Using that calculation, I'm way behind. :(

    Oh, and that looking at the word count every half second? I'm so there. Even when I start writing on a new day! Ah, the joys of speed writing. :D

  3. Phil: Thank you, and I feel the same relief when I read your progress. :)

    Noelle: Thanks for your comment! I'm struggling with the 1667 per day, I don't know how you manage! But please don't write during Thanksgiving if there is a threat of divorce looming! You can tackle NaNo next year! ;) LOL