Well, it being a few days into December, I finally feel like I have the time to discuss what happened or didn’t happen during my first National Novel Writing Month endeavor. It was a long month, especially with all of my schoolwork included in my workload, but at the same time it seemed to fly by so quickly, probably also due to the schoolwork that was taking up time, the holidays, and Harry Potter.
I can break down my month of writing into four different sections, based on how much I wrote, when I wrote it, and what else was happening at the time, as detailed below.
Week 1 – Sprint
Going into the month, I already knew I had two exams a week after the start, so I planned on writing as much as I could before the weekend, which would be spent studying, so that I wouldn’t fall far behind. And that’s exactly what I did, writing a little over 17,000–a third of the novel–in five days, with over 16,000 of that coming in the first four. I was well ahead of the curve at that point, and would be even after taking a few days to study, which was exactly what I wanted.
Week 2 – Slow and Steady
Once I got past those two exams, I did still have two more to worry about, but since they were spread out, I didn’t completely stop my writing as much as I had previously. This week started with the first write-in at Wanderer’s Teahouse, a nice little new place on Grand River, which was organized by our fearless Municipal Liason and attended by a fair number of local writers. I took a couple days off from writing, mostly because of work or doing homework, but tried to write in smaller chunks over longer periods of time. I had figured out what was going on in the story, and at that point the characters that I had created were really carrying the story, with me just there to move my fingers.
Weeks 3 and 4 – There’s other days besides Mondays?
Since my first write-in was so successful, I decided that I would continue to go back every week to work there for a few hours, knocking out at least 5k in each session. I did, however, get really caught up in schoolwork, since I had somewhat ben neglecting it over the past two weeks, plus I was sort of running out of things to write that fit with the story. Not that I didn’t know what would happen next, but that I was having serious doubts that the story would be finished short of the target 50k. So, I took it much more slowly, giving my mind time away from writing just to think (or not think) about the story. I only spent two days during these two weeks writing, both at write-ins, which caused me to encounter my first dip below the “suggested word count” line.
November 29-30 – I need to finish!
I entered the last two days about 11,000 short of the finish, which meant that I would need to average a higher word count than I had during my first week sprints to get that last punctuation mark down before midnight. I went to Wanderer’s on Monday for the last write-in (which had somewhat fallen apart due to lack of attendance and reserved space), sat down and wrote, then moved to Holmes to pick up some snacks and write some more. When I finished that first day’s writing (at around 0130 on Tuesday…), I had pecked out 8,500 words. Still, that meant that I had three thousand to go, and my fears set in: my story was more or less finished. So, on Tuesday, after teaching my lab, I stayed in Holmes and wrote out a few closing chapters, bringing the saga to an emotional end (both happy and somewhat depressing) for the main characters that had remained alive, and by 2030 I had passed the 50k mark with a few hours to spare!
First, what a rush! Looking back, I wrote a 50k-word novel in fourteen days (with some of my days spilling over into midnight on the next, but we’ll just count those as one), meaning I averaged around 3,500 per day. Of course, since I still took the full month to write it, the average is really half that, but that’s more a semantics argument than anything else. What this means is that, even with schoolwork, writing not every day, taking huge breaks, running out of story, and figuring it out as you go, you can still get a novel out of nothing, just with a few sore fingers, eyes, back, and a lack of sleep.
I met a few very interesting people while doing this, plus found out that two of my friends were doing the same thing at various points during the month (ignoring my roommate who I had started this journey with). Next year, if I plan on doing this around whatever I may be doing, my writing will definitely be a little more consistent, and I’ll probably spend October planning out what I’m writing (all I had done for this one was think, plus write down the names of two main characters, once of which was a computer), just so the end goes more smoothly and it feels like I’m taking things a little more seriously.
So, what next for the novel I named Evolution? Well, if I want to try to publish it, it will take a lot of work, especially in the closing quarter of it, the addition of a few scenes, and some more fleshing out of the characters. In other words, close to a full re-write, the plague of Moonshot and Moonshot: Origins (since I never really named that prequel officially…). I haven’t decided if that’s what I want to do, or scrap it and simply write a new story, so for now it will sit on my hard drive with those failed stories (totaling 101,000 words), right next to my only other finished work of longer fiction, No Exit (bring my total finished word count to 66,000), until I decide what to do.
But I’ll leave that decision for next year. For now, I’m taking a well-deserved break!