NaNoWriMo: How I (almost) Wrote A Novel

This year, I took place in Nanowrimo, the month-long writing contest that doesn’t fail to turn November into an even more interesting month than usual.  The objective is to write a 50,000 word novel from scratch (outlining and planning are allowed, however) in a month.

Early on this past Thursday afternoon (Thanksgiving) I cashed in my chips verified my word count, because I started to get anxiety that if I didn’t do it right then I would either forget to do it over the weekend, or the file would get corrupted, or my laptop would die or any other unlikely – though possible (and unfortunately, some even repeatable from the past) – scenarios that would result in me not winning or, more importantly, losing the work that I have become so close and attached to over the last 20-something days. Yeah, I have come to regard the novel as something tangible, something I can get attached to. Weird…

My downloadable winner's certificate

My downloadable winner’s certificate. Boyfriend spelled “unnamed” wrong, LOL

So I verified it and was declared a winner. Now, the reason I hadn’t verified it sooner – and would have continued to delay, were it not for the previously mentioned anxiety – is that though I have crossed the 50,000 word threshold, it doesn’t feel complete.

Besides the obvious editing for both grammar and continuity issues, there is so much more description that I would like to get into that I feel I have barely scratched the surface of. Off the top of my head I can think of at least three scenes that I would have liked to include. Some are so specific, right down to what sign was on the wall, the expression of a character’s face, but I figured that to delve so deep into one scene when I had a whole plot to unfold would just – I don’t know – slow me down.

It’s hard to explain; on the one hand, I knew that I preferably wanted to write the 50,000 words, just to prove to myself I could, but on the other hand I wanted to make sure the story in my head was told.  And deep down I realize that for the tale to truly be told, if I want to do my characters justice – not to mention my parallel universe – it would take at least double that many words (who am I kidding; probably even more than that.).  The thing is, I’m not willing to make that commitment, at least at the moment.  I have too many other interests and/or responsibilities.  And it’s not just that; I can’t focus on just one project,  I just get bored or something like that that is so hard to articulate.

It’s not the writing itself either. I celebrated when I first hit 50,000 words by taking a break from the novel and …writing, and it felt so incredibly good to be writing about something because wanted to, not had to.  I even came up with numerous ideas for short stories and novels.  I love writing, I was just so over dedicating all of my writing time and effort to that novel.

Perhaps I lack maturity; perhaps I’m commitment-phobic. I still would like to see the novel completed. But since I technically verified the word count and won’t I feel like I have no deadline. So I may just procrastinate as I tend to do. That’s the reason I decided to even enter in the first place; with a deadline I thought surely I would complete the novel. And I did, a very bare-bones at times and detailed at others version of it.

When I first started writing the novel, I did so in a goal-oriented frenzy (some days writing 6 or 7,000 words) that can only mean one thing: there will be a burnout period. And yes,predictably, the day after I hit 50,000 I did not write a single word for the novel for several days. I even started to fear that I would not return to it ever and I don’t know what made me return to it at all: the desire to bring my story to life or the fear that it was either now or never. At the same time, I’ve grown to care about what happens to my characters, and the world I’ve created. Such an odd last few weeks…

When I had a clear defined goal, it was easier to just make myself get it done.  Afterwards, I just felt overwhelmed. It’s like there’s so much potential but I just can’t make myself focus and channel all my energy in only one direction.  And deep down, I worry that I may prefer unfinished projects; after all, every story I have ever created has not had an ending, just an endless combination of convoluted plot lines and complex characters.

My novel doesn’t even have a freaking title! That’s how indecisive (or whatever word is more appropriate) I am.

Ragardless, though, I won! That’s so cool. I do feel like I accomplished something, though not necessarily all I had set out to do. Unfortunately, I can tend towards an overachieving perfectionism at times, which causes me more frustration than anything else. Still working on it…

10 thoughts on “NaNoWriMo: How I (almost) Wrote A Novel

  1. kanundra

    Hey there, I feel your pain,

    50k isn’t really a novel, and we all know it… it’s longer than a novella and most agents won’t look at it. Nano is about writing, every day. Now carry on that writing and you’ll get that novel finished. 🙂 and if you need a hand with editing, there are plenty of us still around nano chat, you just need to look. hehe Congrats though, you did it, that is totally awesome!

    1. flowergirlkit Post author

      Thanks! Writing every single day is something I love to do, Nano or not.
      To be fair, as this is my first novel attempt, I had no idea what 50k words even feels like. For a story as involved as what I had in mind, I should have realized that 50k words would barely scratch the surface.
      Lurking on the Nano boards has been inspiring for sure…

  2. Paulina

    At least you made and effort and wrote something. I had a novel sitting somewhere at the back of my brain, but it would not come out this month. Perhaps I’ll try again later, just for fun. I have a feeling it is going to be a short story.

  3. kitteacat

    Congrats! I only made it to about halfway this year (~24,500 words), but that’s more than I ahd at the month’s beginning! This year was about actually committing to doing it – Next year is the winning year for me! =)

  4. iamcayenne

    …writing, and it felt so incredibly good to be writing about something because wanted to, not had to; I feel you……………….my half- written novel is still waiting for me. Fortunately I emailed it to myself before my laptop broke down😃. Hmmm……..I still wanna be an author of a book. Would try to get back to it😊. And you should….coz I wanna read yours😊

    1. flowergirlkit Post author

      Emailing it to yourself, that’s smart. Unfortunately my laptop doesn’t go online so it won’t distract me when I’m writing.
      My book (in progess) is not too bad, I feel like even I want to read it when it’s done. Sometimes when reading through it I feel impressed, like, I wrote that! At random throughout the day I find myself making up parts of the story that need to be filled in. But then I get home and my motivation for working on that particular project just flies out the window. I’m sure once I catch up on all the other stuff I put on hold for NaNoWriMo – and get out of school for the winter – I’ll feel like working on it some more.
      Did you write your half-novel this year?


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