In April I took part in National Novel Writing month – a challenge to write 50,000 words in a month. If you saw my April Review post last month, you’ll notice that I failed this goal. I only made it to 44,029, unfortunately, but I’m still incredibly proud of myself for getting that far.
When I started the challenge, I thought I’d do it for a few days then just give up. I’ve attempted NaNoWriMo once before and that’s exactly what I did. For some reason, as soon as I missed a couple of goals I didn’t see the point anymore. I’m putting it down to the fact that the goal seemed less attainable then. So, basically, I’d give up and pretend that I’d tried. When I hadn’t really “tried” very hard at all.
This time, however, it was different. I’ve wanted to write a novel for years, and this year I was damn well determined to do it. I’d been thinking about the idea for my novel for months, jotting down anything that popped into my head. If written snippets of conversations, bullet points of things that could possibly happen, and information about the characters. I was actually really excited about getting to write it, which I think really helped a lot.
So, with all of that in mind, here’s what I learned from taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo:
You can get a lot done on a bus journey
I wrote the majority of my 44,000 on the journey to and from work. I averaged about 1000 words a day through this alone, which was really great. It just goes to show how much I could do if I utilised this time properly, rather than just getting annoyed at traffic and strangers who like to sit on the edge of my thighs…
You should probably plot a novel before writing it
So, I went into NaNoWriMo with the bullet-pointed list and the basic ideas that I talked about, but I never wrote a full plot. This was mainly because I wasn’t sure how I wanted it to go, but also because I didn’t want to restrict my freedom when writing. However, this made things more difficult. I had to spend ages thinking about where to go with each chapter, how characters would react, and how the plot should progress. It also caused me to give-up on a few chapters partway through, because I didn’t know or didn’t like what was happening.
If you power through the shit days you’ll end up with something
A major problem for me when I’m writing is self-editing. If something doesn’t work instantly I get very annoyed, and it just makes me want to give up. During this challenge, I forced myself to keep going with things, even if they were making me want to set my laptop and my characters on fire. When I re-read what I’d written later on, I realised that it wasn’t actually that bad at all.
There’s always editing
Drafting and redrafting is part of the process. Not everything goes well the first time. You wouldn’t expect to be able to drive a car perfectly on the first try, so why should writing a novel be any different?
It’s worth it
When you look back at anything, whether a novel that you’ve written or a cake you’ve laboured over, it’s amazing to see the results. I have 44,000 words that I loved writing, and I can’t wait to continue. If you want to do something, do it. It’s better to regret doing it than not try at all. (But I definitely DON’T regret this!)
In July, I’m taking part in Camp NaNoWriMo again. I’ll be rewriting the same novel, from the beginning, but this time with a real plot. I’m ridiculously excited about this. By the end of this year, I WILL have written a full novel, no matter what my procrastinating brain wants to do.