I will admit, I have a problem. There are some parts of autumn I can’t escape. I’m not talking about a pumpkin spice latte – which honestly I can’t escape, but strangely lost my taste for it – but about National Novel Writing Month.
I’ve blogged about NaNoWriMo several times, and I’ll blog about it several times more. I love it that much. It’s like a month long adrenaline rush with a support group built in. The rush to keep writing means that no matter how much planning you do before (and I’ve realized I’m more plotter than pantser) you will be surprised by what turns your writing will take. No doubt about it, I would not still be writing today without that initial push from NaNoWriMo.
I’ve been a participant since 2008, when I was juggling my senior year of high school in the IB program. The first time I didn’t “win,” but I had a hell of a lot of fun trying and hammered out about 22,000 words. My novel was called Hotel Satoro, a pseudo-fantasy piece about a group of milennials who stumbled across a parallel universe with limited technology and a civil war. It was more words than I’d ever written for any one project, let alone a work of fiction, in my life. That said, the work was a mess and I abandoned it for bigger and better things. It will never become a finished novel, but it was good practice for world and character building.
By 2009 I’d graduated, had a semester to myself before I ran off to culinary school, and wasn’t working. I had a month to myself and no excuse not to improve on last year’s progress. I began a crime novel called Poplar and Peppermint, later shortened to Poplar and Mint. It was my first “win” as I ended the month with a word count of 52,505. I later finished the story and began editing it, but have yet to finish.
2010 was my first attempt at science fiction. Machmen focused on robots and imposing Asimov’s Three Laws on humans. Lunacy was a downy soft sci-fi novel inspired by a dream and set in space. I was a few quarters into school, taking on more serious classes and I had a job. I also met up with some other writers in the school and got the idea to form a writing club on campus. Something must have possessed me at the time, because this was also my attempt to tackle writing two novels at once for a goal of 100K words. How hard could it be? How foolish I was. After one all-nighter spent writing like crazy led to me oversleeping and being late to work, I decided to tone it down a notch and work toward the more “reasonable” goal of 50K like “normal” participants. Technically this was my first year as a “wrimo rebel.” I did reach that goal, averaging 25K for each project, but neither novel is finished. What’s more, the writing club was a flop.
In 2011, I first began working on the novel Jasper. It had a somewhat different premise then, and after three years and many rounds of edits I’d like to think I’ve since improved on it. For 2012, I rebelled again and continued with Jasper, deciding not to abandon this novel like I had previous projects.
Last year I did need a break from that project, and admittedly due to some inspiration from a certain popular fantasy series and another certain series of dark fantasy video games I began work on Ascended, the start of my own fantasy series. It too is on the backburner now that I’ve returned to Jasper, but I do have plans to finish that as well.
This year I am rebelling for a third time, and editing Jasper rather than starting a new project or continuing to write the first draft. I’m now in draft 6, and I’ve gone too far in this novel not to finish. I don’t want to start something new or work on something else, but I also miss the rush and sense of community that NaNo provides. And there’s nothing wrong with rebelling, many participants do the same.
My plan is for 1 hour of edits to equal 1K words. My speed when writing new drafts was 1K in 30 minutes at my best, so I don’t think I have an unfair advantage this time around. It’ll also encourage me to spend my time doing actual edits as opposed to making progress as quickly as possible. It will also be harder to cram at the end of the month, as there are only so many hours in the day, meaning I will have to pace myself accordingly if I wish to “win.”
My goal? I’m on draft 6. I want to get to draft 8, or ideally be confident enough in the manuscript to be DONE, by November 30.
On the NaNo site, I am B Rhodes. Feel free to add me as a buddy or prod me mid-month when I inevitably lag behind.