Well, that was probably the most demanding project I have ever taken on. When I passed the 50,000 word mark I could have stopped, but the whole idea about writing a novel in 30 days is to complete a novel. You know, beginning, middle and end. I would have felt like I cheated if I stopped right when I hit 50k.
I am exhausted, but I feel great. Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. I’d say by the time I was nineteen I started telling myself “I’ll write a book someday.” There were a few attempts too, but I never made it past more than a few chapters. That is what made participating in Nanowrimo so great. The deadline. Without one you really have no incentive. And with a very limited time, thirty days, you are forced to focus. Even if you don’t like the particular part of your book you’re working on you just don’t have time to delete and think of a new idea. You just get those words down and see what happens. Sometimes it turns out better than you expected. Sometimes not, but that’s ok. The idea is that you have the rough draft of a novel by the end of the month. In most cases, it’s safe to say, very rough. If I wasn’t forced to focus I’d still be hovering around the 20,000 word mark.
As you can see from the chart above, I was slightly behind almost the whole month. I did have a system though. To get 1,667 words a day I would sometimes end the day in the 800-1000 range. In the morning I’d catch up. Then, late at night when the rest of my family went to bed I’d get down another 800 words. And catch up again the next morning. I knew this would be a tough project, but I really should have tried it years ago when I first heard about it. In other words, when I lived alone. It’s hard enough reading a book uninterrupted when you have an 11 year old, a 9 nine year old and a 5 month old, but writing one is a whole different story. In fact, “uninterrupted reading” shouldn’t even be in my vocabulary at this point. That term has no business being in my vocabulary because all it does is offer hope for something that doesn’t exist. And that’s just the kids. Nevermind the fact that I have my lovely lady to spend time with and a business to run. I finished though, so it’s totally possible.
A lot of us have demanding lives. I’m not saying mine is more demanding by any means. One thing I learned during this adventure is that no matter how demanding our life might be we still manage to waste a lot of time. We just don’t realize we’re wasting it. To pull off a 50,000 word novel in thirty days I cut out a lot of stuff I normally waste my time with. I stopped looking at twitter and facebook. I posted a few things, but not nearly as much as I normally do. I also, sad to say because I really like it, stopped posting photos on instagram and cut back on my regular blogging. Now that I haven’t been doing those things I’ve actually sort of lost interest in them. Except the blogging. I did miss that. I’ll probably get back into instagram because it is a creative outlet, but I’ll keep my distance with the twitter and facebook. I knew there were better ways to spend my time, but now with a 50k word book under my belt I have the proof.
Now that the book is done what am I going to do with it? Well, it needs some serious cleaning up. There were times where I was in such a hurry I would just write “ADJECTIVE” instead of taking the time to think of something clever. There is also a lot of things I need to do some research on. At one point the main character is in Paris, so I need to find the name of a fancy hotel for him to stay at and what street it’s on and what things are close by. With limited time to write there is no way I’d even be halfway done right now if I researched every little detail. You know, you can’t just write “Then Jeff went to a coffee shop to get cocoa.” You have to do something a little more specific. Something like, “Then Jeff took a leisurely walk down (STREET NAME) where he found (NAME OF COFFEE SHOP), a favorite among locals for their Mexican hot cocoa and yadda yadda yadda.” You get the idea. So, I have a lot to add to the novel and probably a lot to take out as well.
All in all, as demanding as it was I had a lot of fun and I am super happy that I did it. When I decided to go for it I kept telling myself, “I can do this” and when it came time to submit my word count and see the little “winner” banner show up under my profile picture I couldn’t help but tell myself “I can’t believe I did it” over and over again. Even if nothing ever comes of the book I wrote I’ll always know that I wrote one. I think I speak for every Nanowrimo winner when I say that what we did feels a bit like Hans Meyer climbing Mt. Kilamanjaro. We wrote a 50,000 word novel and no matter what happens, nobody can ever take that away from us.
Now that it’s all said and done I’d like to make a BIG public thank you to my wonderful lady, Coral. She took on extra house and kid duties so I could write and also sacrificed lots of time we would normally spend together so I could accomplish this crazy goal. Thanks, honey!