I had toyed with the idea for a few years but had never made the commitment. The idea behind National Novel Writing Month (or NaNoWriMo) is to encourage writers to spend the month of November penning a novel from start to finish. Many people spend all of October preparing. I decided to do it on November 1. Here’s a summary of my log entries since I stopped writing them online on Day 2:
Day 3: I discovered that on my NaNoWriMo page, all the calculations are done for me: how many words I have to go, how many words per day I’ll need to write in order to catch up, and even the date I would reach 50,000 at my current rate, which is in May of 2014. None of this makes me feel better, but at least I no longer have to do the math myself…
Day 5: I’m up to 3112 words. If I continue at this rate, I can finish my novel some time in January instead of May. Progress!
Day 6: I still haven’t gotten the hang of 1667 words a day, but I do have a total of 4072.
Day 8: Today is complicated by the fact that I have to write an entire play in four days, which is likely to put my novel on the back burner…
Day 9: I join fellow NaNoWriMo folks at a write-a-thon at a bakery, having ducked out of my Weight Watchers meeting to make time. So it’s likely that I’ll gain weight over this novel business. But it’s all worth it because I get my 5K sticker for passing 5000 words. I proudly affix the sticker to my laptop.
Day ?: Perhaps it’s what they call the second week doldrums or perhaps I realize that I still have a job that requires me to do something other than write a novel, but I lose track of time and words.
Day 15: How did that happen? The month is half over! I’ve only reached 7207. The good news is that I find out that my play is being staged at Berkeley Rep, which means I spend the rest of the morning emailing everyone I know and promoting the play on Facebook instead of writing my novel.
Day 18: I’m up to 8095, but I don’t go to my NaNoWriMo page because it would be too depressing to see how far behind I am.
Day 19: Tomorrow I should reach 10,000, which is only a fifth of the way there but is still 10,000 more than if I hadn’t attempted NaNoWriMo at all!
Day 20: Enough with the hopeful self-talk. I’m not going to reach 50,000 words. But I’m determined to make this experience worthwhile. I’m just going to focus on writing every day and learn from this, so that I can be ready next year.
Day 23: I peek at my stats. I’ve written 10,245 words. I get a pirate sticker for passing 10,000. To achieve my goal, I would need to write 39,755 words in the next eight days, which would require me to crank out 4,970 words per day.
Thanksgiving: I may not have made much progress in my novel, but I am thankful for other writing I’ve done this week—two articles for my club newsletter, eight critiques on fellow playwrights’ ten-minute plays, two blog posts, and a long poem. (Do to-do lists count?)
Day 30: I go to Berkeley’s main library where nine others are still trying to reach 50,000 in a last-day NaNoWriMo write-a-thon. No prizes for me, but there’s cider and brownies!
Okay, so I didn’t write a novel in a month, but I now have several chapters of a novel. And that’s 13,011 more words than I’d have written had I not taken up the challenge. Plus, I got this blog post out of it.