NaNoWriMo Update: Week One

godzilla1954cIt’s officially been one week since I started the NaNoWriMo challenge. I’ve always been very snobby about the idea of writing 50,000 words in a month. Would such an exercise be worth my time? I even began to waffle in the days before November 1st, sure I was about to commit myself to tossing one month of writing time down the drain. Not to mention, reading Maggie Stiefvater’s open letter to NaNo, which reinforced all of my fears. I considered not even starting.

But I did start.

Prepared with with half the novel outlined, and scene cards in hand, I stared down the blank page. It was a rocky start, I’ll admit. My editor brain went into hyperdrive, roaring her evil head like Godzilla trashing a city. She kept screaming: “Slow down! This sucks! You’re going to have to rewrite every single word of this.” And she isn’t wrong. I haven’t wrote anything this poorly in a long time.

But…

Ben crazy on swingThere was a point (maybe around day 3), where that repetitive growl of my editor brain started to dull. I gave in to the fact that this was bad writing. I decided to accept that I was spewing out large chunks of exposition, ignoring plot holes, allowing pause button violations, and not deeply exploring all of my character’s emotions. Anything goes! And as I started to free myself of the need to analyze every decision – something magical happened.

I started to enjoy writing.

Not just enjoy it, but love it, like a giddy child on a playground. Suddenly, I was allowed to be self-indulgent. Allowed to no worry if every decision was the best one. Allowed to make things up, explore, and have fun!

I didn’t realize how much of my past writing process has been about editing and nit-picking as I go. I’m not saying these aren’t important tools. I’ll need them in revision. But I had forgotten how much FUN writing a first draft can be.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m writing crap. I have no delusions about this. There’s no fancy MFA crafting going into this draft. But there is excitement. There is joy. And that is something I didn’t expect.

So, here I am at the end of week one. My current tally is:

  • Word count: 16,031
  • Pages: 53
  • Average words per day: 2,003

If you’re attempting NaNo this month too, I give you permission to be self indulgent! Remember what it’s like to be a kid and just play. Embrace the fun!

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6 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Update: Week One

  1. I have had the opposite happen to me this NaNo. I have always written free flow and then spent time editing. Surprisingly, this time I made up a time line, plot structure etc. and what was the result? Stalling and not really enjoying the process at all. It is the last time I pre-plan!

  2. I was so glad to read your post because I am having a nearly identical experience. I’m not worrying about sticking to my storyline. Instead I’m writing from a deeper, more serene, zen kind of place in my head. I know that sounds all New Age-y, but I’ve never in my life felt so much peace as I write or, more commonly for me, think about writing. I sit down each day to write 2000 words. I don’t read what I’ve already written, I just use my vague idea about where I’m going as a writing prompt and write 2000 words. Some of it is quite beautiful even if not in the right place in the story. I stop at 2000 words and don’t worry about it any more, knowing that my subconscious mind is working on it while I’m not paying attention. No doubt this manuscript will be a ginormous mess when I’m done, but that is what first drafts are about, and why the gods created revision. I’m having such a good feeling about this process.

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