Yup – that’s precisely what we decided to do. After Creative Writing classes ended, Yawatta and I decided to become writing buddies as a means to help us maintain writing goals. She suggested that we start with a NaNoWriMo project.
NaNoWriMo is short for: National Novel Writing Month and occurs from November 1 – November 30th, each year. It’s quite the online phenomenon. You can find more information by following this link http://www.nanowrimo.org/ .
I had never before attempted the NaNoWriMo challenge, so I thought it was a pretty nifty idea – 50,000 words in 30 days? Oh yeah, I quickly agreed to the plan. Shortly thereafter, we gladly welcomed one of my classmates, Melissa, into joining our madness.
So – the three of us met, twice weekly, at the crack of dawn thanks to Yawatta’s work schedule. Well, not really; but it seemed like that to me. I was only 6+ months into my “day job sabbatical”. Anything prior to 9:00am was way too early to have to arrive anywhere past my own front porch, coffee mug in hand. However, our chosen location was the local coffee shop only a few miles from my house – that made things infinitely easier, especially after my first few sips of strong coffee.
After completing the NaNoWriMo challenge, here are a few things I learned:
- Consistent writing really does make words flow easier.
- Writing 1,666 words every day became increasingly difficult to fulfill. Why? No outline.
- Time on plot outlines, character sketches, and theme – before starting the story – is time well spent.
- If I stopped writing before reaching the end of a scene, I picked up the momentum faster on my next day of writing.
- Having goals and deadlines to complete specific milestones makes it harder to “ignore” a writing routine.
- Fellowship from writing buddies, provides encouragement to keep going.
- It’s really hard to “turn off” my inner editor. Yet, I now understand the value from that exericse – get the story down on paper.
- A writing journal is a wonderful tool to keep track of characters, timelines, names and other facts, sudden ideas, and more.
I bet you’re wondering – did I make it to 50,000 words at the end of 30 days? Mmmm, almost. I finished at 45,010 words – and am far from holding a completed first draft manuscript. However, that wasn’t really the point of this exercise…
Yet I did end up with a large body of work that could either be edited into a first draft – or tossed aside as a learning experience. Either way, it’s a win.