NaNoWriMo – Done but not Dusted

In October I sensed much excitement in writer’s circles about the approaching National Novel Writing Month. I felt it was way out of my league. I even expressed my respect for anyone game enough to attempt it. It seemed a mammoth task to me. Congratulations to anyone who attempted it and to those who finished. You are all brilliantly dedicated.

I think it was October 29 when I still had no intention of doing it but wondered, just briefly, was it possible for me to get anywhere near 50,000 in 30 days given my tendency to procrastinate, allow myself to be distracted, find excuses, and generally do other stuff that might not even interest me? Maybe. If I whipped myself into gear and focussed on the goal and actually committed to getting at least 1667 words out each evening after the kids go to bed.

Winner-180x180The following night I signed up with no idea, no plot and no expectations.

On the 31st I developed an idea for a plot then on 1/11 got down an dirty. (I must apologise now to everyone for not reading their excellent blogs and adding my 1/2 a cent worth of baloney to their comments section.) I quickly realised that waiting for the kids to go to bed was not going to leave me enough time without hallucinating from sleep deprivation so I tried to do some Nano work before bedtime.

After the first week one of my fears was realised. Came home from work to find both computers being used by both kids at the same time. The 8 year oId desktop and the 5 year old laptop with the 5 minute battery. Really need to get another laptop, I thought. Got one with Windows 8, stuck LibreOffice on it and panicked at the word count issue which I described here. There’s a corresponding small trough at about day 8 on my stats page showing this.

For nearly two weeks I surprised myself with my progress, amazed at what a little commitment can do. Then I allowed myself to slack off a bit. Scary thoughts. I was dropping below the par line. But not too much. I can recover from this. Except I knew we had some family events the coming weekend which set me back further, to the point where I wondered if I could recover at all.

Desperate times call for desperate measures. I usually find the daily train trip very distracting. And I’m not usually comfortable writing on a train where people beside me or standing over me in the aisle, could potentially read my raw, unedited work. I may as well be naked. But if I sat in the single special needs seat at the back of the last carriage, which no one uses, I can work in relative privacy. And boy was that productive! 1200 words in one hour the first day I did that. Then every other time gave me 1000+ consistently. Very happy. There were nights I’d go easy at home and others where I’d go all out to catch up, touching the par line once before dropping back again. I really needed a catch up day.

Last Monday my daughter had her braces out. I wrote 1000 words before I collected her from school, another  500  in the orthodontists surgery while she had them out, and 4K over the rest of the day. And all of this was possible because I “forgot” my remote access password for working from home! Such a shame. 😉

This last few days have been the steady marathon of train-writing and easy top-ups at home to reach the goal of 50K on Wednesday. There were mixed feelings. It was fantastic to have reached the 50K but the story wasn’t anywhere near finished. I hadn’t reached the end chronologically, and there were characters who hadn’t even developed fully. Even partially in some cases. I changed my mind about things part way through so to read it from start to finish would reveal contradictions galore.

But i can say it was a eye-opening experience. I’ve never had a tight deadline with such a large workload tied to it. It was enlightening to find that, when I applied myself, I could actually achieve it. As for the quality of the writing, lets just say, editing is welcome, desired, essential. Rewriting will get a look-in too, I think.

Will I see the story through to full maturity? Maybe. Will I do NaNo again next year? Maybe. We’ll see. In the meantime I have a month of blogs to read! 😉

4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo – Done but not Dusted

    1. Richard Leonard Post author

      Thanks! Blogging might not happen this weekend. Coming up to fire season here. hot dry summer expected. I better clean my gutters… Then again I have lots of blogs to read… and leaf litter to clean up… and a novel to finish… actually 3…. Arrgghh!!

  1. Maddie Cochere

    Congratulations, Richard. It took me four hours just to catch up on a week of blog reading, but it was fun. I’m not doing NaNo next year. I think once was enough for me. And even though your book isn’t “anywhere near finished,” what a great start you have on taking your time now to develop it at your leisure.

    1. Richard Leonard Post author

      Thanks Maddie! Given that the first novel I attempted still isn’t finished (because there was no-one behind me with a whip), I’m guessing this one won’t be finished before next year’s NaNo starts! If I do it again then I’ll have 4 unfinished novel queuing up! Nothing ever gets finished. Story of my life – hey, maybe that can be my first completed novel! 😉


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