Welcome back! As much as I miss everyone and wish this quarantine would be over already, staying safe indoors and social distancing when outside will really get COVID-19 under control. Like many people, I do not have work for the time being. I challenged myself to expand my writing portfolio by participating in something called NaNoWriMo.
What is NaNoWriMo?
It is a virtual writing camp that encourages writers to write everyday for a month towards a completed draft of 50,000 words. The goal is not to write a perfect piece ready to be published. It is to establish the daily habit of writing with the end goal of a first, or rather a rough, draft of a novel. With that, your daily goal is to write 1,667 words a day. Seems like a big number to reach every single day of the month, but it is possible with enough preparation.
My friend, who was the first person to tell me about NaNoWriMo, shared their experience participating a few years back. After listening to their experience, I was hooked into doing the challenge.
Honestly, I never felt this invigorated about a writing project ever. I attribute my energy to the Pre-Writing work that nanowrimo.org provides. They give you a downloadable PDF that forces you to get thinking with cool prompts. I did not start my month of writing with a concrete idea, which is perfectly fine. The Pre-Writing work stimulates you to get thinking of an idea that you will passionate about! It did for me. Once I finished the prompt section, the Pre-Writing dives into character development and outlining the events taking place.
Preparing character sheets and a beat sheet really motivated me to keep going with the challenge. If I was unprepared and started free writing a novel, I definitely would lose motivation thus leading to giving up on the challenge. What really helped me keep up was knowing how I want to start and end the novel. Knowing your ending drives you to get there, not matter what. Once I finished developing, it was time to start writing.
In the Pre-Writing outline, NaNoWriMo gives you suggests on how to incorporate time in your schedule to write. I chose to use the Pomodoro method every day. The Pomodoro method is working for 25 minutes then taking a 5 minute break four times. Essentially, using Pomodoro method means I was writing for two hours a day. I went from barely reaching an hour of writing to two uninterrupted hours of blissful writing. Not having concrete work schedule allows me to write as long as I want without having to worry about obligations.
Writing the first half of my novel up to the midpoint felt like a breeze. I was surpassing my daily word goal of 1,667 words easily. The ladder half of writing my novel was more of an uphill battle. I would reach between 1250-1500 words opposed to my daily goal. As much as I wanted to beat myself up for not reaching the goal by a small margin, I chose to keep going. To keep getting up and writing first thing in the morning. My future edit could also be the blame for lacking some momentum, but I challenged that thinking with “Well, there won’t be a future edit until you finish this draft first.”
Finally, I finished the novel by reaching 50,000 words. Is the ending written the way I want it to end? Not exactly. Do I need to go back to write more in-depth character backgrounds for some major players in my story? Definitely. Was I exhausted from writing? Yes and no. The catharsis from spilling on the page can be exhausting in the best way possible. I can best compare it to exercising. While you are exercising, you might feel tired or down, but you always feel great when you complete your workout. It was important that I take a few days of rest from this intense writing before I dived back into my work. Currently waiting for two people to give me notes on the draft before I go back to edit the crap out of the novel. My plan is to adapt the novel into a feature length screenplay. I cannot speak on when or how I plan to release the novel, but it will be accessible one day.
I am extremely grateful for this experience, because it made me fall in love with writing, again. Highly encourage anyone with a story on their mind, in need of a writing habit, or need something to do to participate in NaNoWriMo! Usually, the month to write your novel is November, but you can participate anytime at your speed.
Thank you all for reading! What kind of creative endeavors have you dived into during quarantine? I would like to hear about some of the stuff my readers are working on, especially if it is just for your enjoyment.