Writing a Novel in a Month – Yes Really

KindleWell no, actually. I had every intention of taking part in NaNoWriMo and writing 50,000 words of Time Shifters – A Long Way From Home in November, which would have meant having almost a first draft completed by yesterday. All I needed to do was write 1,675 words every day between the 1st and the 30th November and ta da! 50,000 words would have miraculously appeared. Easy right? Well, for the first five days it was – I nailed my daily quota of 1,675 words and saw my word count grow on my NaNo stats page. And then on day six, other stuff took over.

There was cleaning and sorting in our house to be done whilst both Nik and I were off; appointments to go to and friends to see (despite the fact that I’d tried to keep November as free as possible it didn’t work out that way). The other – and probably main issue – was not having a detailed enough plot written out before starting NaNo to enable me to keep the flow of writing going. Despite this being the second book of a trilogy and already knowing the characters, plus having an idea of what would happen next, I’d only really plotted the beginning of the novel. I usually write like this and just have a vague idea of certain scenes and where the story is going to go but for NaNo this approach certainly slowed the word count progress down.

My total word count in November was a not-too-shabby (in my mind anyway) 20,117 words. Okay, it’s a good way off 50,000 words but I have managed to kick-start book two, discovered new characters I wasn’t expecting, and am pretty much one-third of the way through the book. Not bad really for one month’s writing. If I carry on like this I could have a first draft written by the end of January. (Watch this space but please don’t hold your breath…)

Taking part in NaNo has also made me aware of the way in which I write. Usually when I write something whether it’s a paragraph, a whole chapter or a couple of thousand words in one go, the next day I’ll go back to it, read through and edit it before writing anything new. With NaNo that way of working isn’t really possible, you just have to keep writing. In many ways that was quite refreshing to lock away the editor in me and simply keep putting words down. Even if they’re the wrong words and will need to be edited at some point in the future, what taking part in NaNo has successfully achieved is the sense of a story and in which direction book two will go in – even if it is unbelievably rough.

Whether you took part in NaNo or not I hope you had a productive writing month.

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13 Comments

  1. Congrats on the 20k at least. You’re right, it’s a great kickstart. I write more like you do and like to polish up as I go. I may have tried NaNo if my wrists were up to it, but I’m not sure it’s really for me. Good luck as you keep working on book 2!

    • Thanks Alana. I’d never have written that much in a month if it hadn’t been for NaNo so it was definitely worth taking part even if I didn’t ‘win’. I just hope I can keep the momentum going now!

  2. Congratulations on a very respectable word count! I love that NaNo is a great excuse to really immerse yourself in your writing. Whether it’s productive or not, like you I’ve found it’s helped me really appreciate my own writing processes.

  3. 20,000 is fantastic! I say anything above what you’d normally write is a win. And I do love the NaNo method of locking that inner editor away during the first draft. Before NaNo, I never finished anything in a longer format because I never stopped editing first chapters. It’s not for everyone, but it does for me! You can’t edit what you haven’t written… :)

    • Cheers Kate! It was very liberating to just simply write and not worry about how good (or bad) it was. The editing can come later and at least, as you said, I have something to edit now. :-)

  4. You did better than me!!

  5. Well done Kate, that’s a great achievement. You should be proud. Like you say it’s hard to keep the momentum going when you’ve got all sorts of distractions. I think I should focus more on the actual writing when I’m working on my WIP rather than go back a few (or more) pages and edit things. That way you achieve more. :)

    • Ah thank you Elaine. I think both ways of working on a WIP have their benefits. I may have written a lot more words than I would have done if I’d edited as I went along but there will be a lot more work to do once the first draft is finished!

  6. You wrote over 20,000 words. That’s great!!! I set a semi-NaNo goal and reached it too. 😀

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