The Perils of NaNoWriMo

Every year since 2005, I have attempted the National Novel Writing Month challenge, or NaNoWriMo, as it is affectionately abbreviated. Writing 50,000 words in the 30 days of November may not sound like much of a task, but let me tell you, it ain’t no picnic. I managed to pound out the required word count in 2005 and 2006, but I have fallen short every year since.

2011 is different.

But it ain’t any easier.

Here I sit, on November 28th, with a 48,900 word novel in progress. There is no doubt that I will be able to write another 1,100 words before the 30th, but the novel is far from complete. So I’ll “win”, but it’s only the beginning of a long winter of writing the last half of the story and then editing, rewriting, and polishing. Right now the only thing I have to say about that is YUCK!

The advantage of NaNoWriMo is that you can give yourself permission to write with reckless abandon for one month. There is no time for proper grammar, brilliant sentence structure, or searching for the perfect word. You just write. The disadvantage is that your word dump will cause mayhem when it’s all said and done. Kind of like housecleaning. You hate doing it, but it has to be done.

On this, the third-to-the-last day of NaNo, my brain is mush. I know that what I’ve been writing for the past few days is very nearly unusable by anyone’s standards, but I also know there are nuggets of amazing stuff under the garbage. There is a light at the end of the tunnel. At midnight on Wednesday, I will breathe a sigh of relief (as will my family), and give the story a break for a few days. My poor characters are losing patience with me. I’ve been fairly demanding of them and I think I even yelled once. Or twice. Next week I will begin to weed out the junk and allow myself the time to think the scenes through instead of simply bashing out the first thing that pops into my head. I’ll make peace with the folks in my story and we’ll continue our journey together.

I will end with this: writing is one of the hardest things I have ever done. And I love it.

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2 Comments

Filed under Writing

2 responses to “The Perils of NaNoWriMo

  1. You amaze me & I really appreciate you sharing the joys & struggles you have gone through this past month. As always your an inspiration to the rest of us. Love ya lots,xoxoxoRebecca

  2. Wendy, a tingle ran up my spine as I read this post, first, because I'm so proud of you for having the moxie to compete in this challenge and succeed this year; and, second, because, although I haven't competed myself, I can well imagine what you went through over these past thirty days. I have no doubt getting out of your own way and bashing out the words (as you put it) is, in all likelihood, the very best way to write that first draft. There's simply no time for anything extra. It's survival. And, in the game of survival, you do what has to be done. Great, great job. I'm so proud of you. What an inspiration you are.

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