NaNoWriMo Update #4–The End of the Challenge

NaNoWriMo Final Update

My final chart for NaNoWriMo 2013. I will definitely participate next year.

I know NaNoWriMo officially ended two days ago, but it was a holiday weekend here in the U.S. and I was busy celebrating Thanksgiving. Plus, it’s a tradition in my family to put up our Christmas decorations during Thanksgiving weekend.

You may have noticed my fancy-schmancy NaNoWriMo winners widget to the right over there. I finished four days early at 58,550 words. Pretty darn cool if I do say so myself. I even bought myself a winners t-shirt. When I get it I’ll take a “selfie” (apparently that’s a real word now) so everyone can see.

I’m glad I took the NaNoWriMo challenge for the first time. I had always thought that I needed a lot of time to work through a draft. “My brain doesn’t work that fast,” I’d say, or “Writing needs to happen in its own time.” Writing for NaNoWriMo showed me that I can complete a draft in 30 days and it doesn’t have to take three or four months. Sure, there was a Pavlov’s dog-type reward for adding my word count into the NaNoWriMo widget and watching the numbers go up (I won’t admit whether I salivated or not). I was able to achieve both tasks I set out for myself—first, to hit the 50,000 word mark and second, to write a complete draft from beginning to end. Done and done.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I wasn’t working with an idea off the top of my head as a lot of writers do when they begin NaNoWriMo. I had been kicking the idea for That You Are Here around for about a year, and I had a halfway decent outline to work with. True, the outline was better for the later chapters, but at least I had something to work with in the beginning when the writing is hardest (at least for me). I’m sure I wouldn’t have done nearly as well if I hadn’t started with a clear idea of the story I wanted to tell.

I also contribute my success, at least partially, to my OCD. I have never been officially diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but I’m sure I have it—not to such a debilitating degree as others, but I must have some minor form of it. I will check five times to see that the garage door is closed, you know, oddities like that. During November I was Rain Man wringing his hands in the airport: “I have to hit 50,000 words. I have to hit 50,000 words. That’s 1666 words per day. How many words did I do today? Not enough words? How many words do I have to do tomorrow? I have to hit 50,000 words…” I said in my first NaNoWriMo update that it didn’t matter if I hit the word count or not, and in theory I meant it. But I know me, and when I have something hanging over me like a due date, I will get it done or else Rain Man starts nagging again.

I’m glad I met my goals, and yet I’m glad November is over. The draft of the novel is complete—it has a beginning, a middle, and an end—but it still needs a lot of work. I’m going to do what I usually do when I finish a draft of a novel—set it aside for a couple of weeks so I can go back to it with fresh eyes. I need a brain break after pushing so hard for 30 days. Still, I learned something—I can work quickly and efficiently if I set my mind to it. For someone like me who has a lot of stories to tell, that’s an important lesson.

I think that if November is National Novel Writing Month, then December should be National Novel Editing Month. Just an idea.

I got an e-mail from the NaNoWriMo people talking about the December hangover, and I understand. But I still have a lot to do to make That You Are Here the novel I want it to be. So there’s plenty of work to keep me busy in December and beyond.

4 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo Update #4–The End of the Challenge

  1. I’m so glad to hear that you use the “My brain doesn’t work that fast” excuse too. I’m not the only one! Thank you for your congratulations. I think people are going to be surprised by the new novel. It’s very different from anything I’ve written before.

  2. The most helpful part of your comments for me were, “My brain doesn’t work that fast.” That’s an excuse I give myself, too. Anyway, congratulations! Now you know we are going to be waiting for that next novel to appear in print (or in digital.)
    Good luck!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.