Well, this is awkward.
Technically, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write at least 50,000 words during the month of November. Well, I just typed THE END on the first draft of my book. A first draft which is 40,861 words in length. So, technically speaking, I have not won NaNoWriMo.
Go on. Ask me if I care.
Over the course of 25 days, I produced a complete first draft of a middle grade fantasy novel. Like most of my first drafts, this one is an utter mess. (My son is disappointed I won’t read this version to him, and he has to wait until at least draft two.) But it has a lot of fun ideas, and is just begging to be rewritten and cleaned up into what I hope will be a publishable novel.
I’m thrilled. This is exactly what I hoped I’d be able to accomplish. There were several days I wasn’t sure I’d make it. We had some family issues, and I had to scramble to get the page proofs done and turned back on Revisionary. There were also times I think I might have pushed myself a little too hard. I felt myself skirting depression once or twice as I struggled to get things done in the real world while also chiseling away at the word count.
- I’m not the 25-year-old kid with no life who can do 80,000 words in a month. But I can do 40,000 in just under a month, and that’s pretty damn sweet.
- First drafts are allowed to be broken. Stop beating yourself up for not being perfect the first time. (I have to relearn this one with every book, but I had to learn it harder this time.)
- Have fun.
- Goblins make everything better. So do chainsaws.
- Concrete wordcount goals and public accountability (like the word count meter) work really well for me, but also increase stress.
- Don’t neglect self-care.
- First drafts, for me, are about throwing in every idea you can. Revision is for pruning some of those ideas and developing the ones you keep.
- Next book: chainsaw-wielding goblins…
For my fellow NaNo writers, whatever your goals this month, whatever your triumphs and setbacks, whether you “won” or not, I hope you had fun. I hope you discovered something new. I hope you grew as a writer, and I hope you feel good about the work you’ve done.
And now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go print out a manuscript.