How are all the other NaNoWriMo-ers out there doing? 2014 is my first attempt at the novel writing challenge, and so far I’m loving it, in an exhausted, semi-hysterical sort of way.
As of last night, my word count stands at 31,135, which I find genuinely quite amazing – my university dissertation was only 10k and that seemed huge (and also took considerably longer than a week to write). I’ve now set myself a new challenge, which is to reach the target of 50k by this Friday evening (14th). This is mostly because there’s going to be a big fireworks display near my house, and if I’ve hit my goal by then, I can have a drink and pretend they’re for me.
Yes, I’m a loser. No, I don’t care.
So why is NaNoWriMo working where lots of other incentives have failed? Well, mostly it’s because I’ve told literally everyone I know that I’m doing it. My friends and colleagues are cheering me on, asking me daily for my new word count and bombarding me with lots of questions about my plot and characters. Each time this happens, I get a new burst of enthusiasm – particularly useful earlier in the week when I had a ‘why would anyone want to read this rubbish?’ moment on the way to work. After chatting it through with various colleagues – including my boss, of all people – I got my bing back and haven’t looked back since.
Also, there are the badges. I’ve always loved a good badge. On the NaNo website, you update your word count each day and you get a nice little graph of your progress, and badges when you hit certain targets – 5k, 10k, 25k. My next badge will be the winner’s badge at 50k, and I really, really want it. (Again – I’m a loser and I don’t care.) But the best thing about NaNoWriMo is that it just makes you start writing. I’ve always thought that when I wrote a novel, I’d have plans all over the house, with each incident meticulously plotted in advance. Not true at all. I started with some characters and a main plot, and from there, the book has taken on a life of its own. I’ve written about stuff I never would have dreamed of – some of it frankly quite disturbing – and, weirdly, I feel like those unplanned sections are the best bits. Apparently I do most of my thinking on the way to and from work, because on Friday morning I randomly decided that the book was getting too dark and I needed to throw in a wedding to lighten it up a bit. I definitely didn’t see that coming before I started writing.
Of course, like anything, there are drawbacks. One is that it’s very hard not to compare your word count with other people’s. I’m doing quite well, but there are lots of people who’ve written more than me. This is good because it drives me to keep going, but I’m also aware that I shouldn’t care what other people have done – I’m only meant to be competing with myself.
Another is that I’m eating far too much chocolate, drinking countless cups of tea, and occasionally turning to the rum to get me through. Hang on, what am I saying – that’s not a drawback… Good luck to everyone else taking part, I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am!