Happy Writing Wednesday! It’s the first one of November, aka National Novel Writing Month, so I wanted to share my successes so far! For those of you who aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo, the challenge is to write 50,000 words which in a lot of cases is novel length. It’s a big task and many people take lots of time to gear themselves up to it. Hence my Preptober posts last month. So we’re almost a whole week in, only three and a half more to go! Here are my successes from the first week.
1. I haven’t edited at all!
The biggest challenge I face in writing is the urge to edit. I am a perfectionist at heart and doubt that will ever change. So when it came to NaNo I knew the only way I could proceed was by going cold turkey – no edits or rewrites! I’ve genuinely been editing and then avoiding the opening chapters of my novel for years. If I’m ever going to finish it, I need to write it!
So I’m super proud of myself for being able to write without looking back or making changes. I’m just getting words down on paper and it feels really good. As they always say; you can’t edit a blank page.
2. I’ve written nearly 7,000 words!
Even though I’m technically under the recommended word count, I’m really pleased with my work so far. Considering how I didn’t actually write anything on days 1 and 2 because of travel exhaustion and generally feeling under the weather, I’m impressed that I’ve got back on track so easily. I’m hoping to write around 3000 words tonight and be back on target for week 2.
A lot of people are strict with the word count and will follow the recommendation of 1667 words a day to the letter. That would mean that by tonight I’d need a word count of 10,002. I’m currently sitting at 6859 so it isn’t impossible but I’m still not feeling well so we shall see. I’m not overly concerned because my novel is a fantasy novel so my genre is typically around the 80-120,000 word mark. This means that NaNo would barely scratch the surface if completed or ‘won’ in the traditional sense. I might need to keep up my daily writing habit a bit longer!
3. I haven’t given up
This might sound a little odd to put as a success but I’m honestly impressed that I haven’t thrown the towel in. I’ve completed Camp NaNo once before in April 2018 and that was a self-determined goal of 25,000 words. Since then I failed to get into the swing of Camp in July 2018 and April and July this year. In August I decided I was doing NaNo because so help me if this novel isn’t written by Christmas I will be very angry with myself!
It’s a huge task and I’ve never tried to do something to this scale before. Managing to write habitually even for one week is a huge improvement since I hadn’t actually written anything for my novel since February this year, and that was likely a paragraph at best.
4. I’m still working full time
Many of you will know that my day job is as a therapist and that takes a lot out of me physically and emotionally, as well as being time consuming. I was on holiday at the start of NaNo so days 4, 5 and 6 have been working days. I am out of the house from 8-6 and actually have some sessions planned in coming weeks which mean I won’t be home until gone 9pm. I desperately wish that I lived in a world where I could take the whole month off as paid leave but alas I don’t, and my NHS service wouldn’t bear the burden of my absence.
So I am very pleased with myself for maintaining a full time job with its own personal and professional demands. I’m also keeping up my blog and I’ll admit that I have been asked to post two book reviews and finding the time to finish the books and write the posts has been taxing alongside everything else. Add in Fashion Fridays and NaNo blog posts and to say I’m grateful I’ve pre-written and scheduled all my Mental Health Monday blog posts is an understatement!
5. I haven’t hit any blocks or bumps yet!
Writers’ block was initially something I was all too familiar with and it drove me up the wall. It wasn’t long before I realised what was causing it was a lack of writing. It sounds ridiculous but as a perfectionist I have this unrealistic expectation that I can’t possibly put anything down on paper that is less than, well, perfect. So then I don’t write, and then I call it writers’ block. When in actual fact if I just wrote what I wanted to and let the ink flow I would realise that there’s a huge difference between not being able to write and preventing yourself from writing.
It’s been a huge relief to have not hit any roadblocks or absolute confusion thus far. I’m happy to say that I’ve found a way around any difficult parts and have fought my perfectionist nature and won. Even though I will probably absolutely destroy my work in edits, it’s a huge success to not be doing that every step of the way instead of writing. Accepting that the first draft is meant to be awful was so important for me to be able to do this.
6. I fell back in love with writing
My relationship with writing has definitely been a love-hate one. Either I’m obsessed and infatuated with my story and can’t get enough of putting it down on paper, or I hate it and think I’m awful and never want to write again (see above). By accepting that this draft won’t be the last and certainly won’t be perfect, I’ve given myself the space to just write. The process that I have loved so much for so long came back so easily that I knew I had been the only thing in my way. By getting out of my bead and onto paper I stopped blocking myself and am now actually enjoying the process.
Even more than that, I am back in love with my story. It is one that has been with me forever and I feel like I grew up writing it. My emotional maturity was there at its conception but now my life experiences and my heartbreaks are fuelling the literary maturity. From being 18 and conceiving this idea to now being 23 with a lot more to offer and learn from, I can only see the story growing and being more fulfilling.
The only downside is now I’m absolutely furious that I can’t quit my day job and be a full time writer. Unfortunately NaNoWriMo doesn’t pay very well (or at all) so its even more of an incentive to get it done. Maybe then I can live my dreams.
I hope those of you doing NaNo are loving it and please feel free to share your progress with me here or on social media!