In my last blog post, which was ages ago, I boldly stated I was not going to do NaNoWriMo, citing very valid reasons such as work, study, kids and general lack of time to do this challenge. Of course, as some of you who read my comments or follow me on Twitter already know, I since changed my mind and decided to participate anyhow. So now that we are almost at the halfway mark, let’s take stock.
Because I decided so very late to write a book, I had limited time to plot and plan. Last year I planned my book down to the last chapter, laying out the path my main character would take. I had read a lot about writing, and took note of how a book is supposed to be structured. Based on that I developed a dilemma that my character had to solve, obstacles that would be put in her way and the final outcome of the whole mess. While this made my NaNoWriMo experience very smooth, as I always knew what I was going to write next, I think it took some of the spontaneity out of my writing. It was structured, planned out and too organised. It didn’t leave room for any surprises, although of course there still were some there. I still really enjoyed writing it and I am pleased with the end product, but I did not develop a deep passion for it, which I think is the reason why I have been so reluctant to edit it.
So, this year everything is different. I had hardly any plan when I started. I had a very vague idea of what I wanted to write about, I had a beginning, a vague middle and barely an end. The only notes I had about my novel before I started was a list of characters with first names only. I still don’t have last names for some of my characters who have already made an appearance. I am also handwriting my novel this year. Last year I used yWriter, but this year I wanted to have something portable that I could use anywhere I went. So I chose a Moleskine notebook and a Lamy Safari fountain pen. The Moleskine was a notebook I had won in an online draw and the Lamy Safari was recommended to me by someone on the NaNoWriMo forums and I have to say it’s the best fountain pen I’ve ever owned. Both fountain pen and notebook are pictured above, you can see that the fountain pen is not much to look at, but it allows me to write big swathes of text without cramping up.
I am happy to report that I am on track with my NaNoWriMo word count. The first day I was able to build up a bit of a buffer, which I definitely needed as I got sick a few days ago and was not able to write that day. I wrote almost 3000 words yesterday, which is quite a feast when you’re handwriting. I am really enjoying my novel, the story is coming together nicely and although I am still fuzzy on certain things that are still going to happen, I find that as I draw closer to an unknown part in my novel, the ideas just start to flow and I can write the part without trouble. I also find that being forced to write slower helps me think more about what I am writing, and helps me experience the story better. Last year I had times where I typed so fast I barely remembered what I wrote afterwards. That can have its benefits too, but I am enjoying the slower pace right now. It will mean I will take longer to actually finish my novel (it’s going to be longer than 50,000 words), but that’s all right.
What surprises me this time around is that I can write a story without plotting everything out in detail. And not only that, but this way of writing is fun and has unexpected results. It does help that I do have a rough idea where everything is headed, but there is the flexibility of changing certain future events based on a surprise turn the plot has taken. Of course you should be flexible even when you have an outline, but I am always very reluctant to stray off the beaten track so I will stick to an outline no matter what. I am not going to say that this book writes itself, it doesn’t. I still have to take time to ponder my next move and sometimes the writing is slow going and painful. But I like the way the story is shaping up. It really feels like a story I wanted to tell rather than something I think other people would want to read (hopefully they still want to read what I want to tell though!). And a few days ago I wrote an absolutely fantastic scene that almost made me cry and that opened up a number of new possibilities within my story.
So in conclusion: I am very happy I decided to do NaNoWriMo again this year. It’s rewarding and creating and fun and worth the time I devote to it. And it’s fun to do it with my sisters too. And now I have written almost 900 words, so I better go write my daily NaNo words for today. Blogging will be light during NaNoWriMo, but I will keep you posted of my progress.