Long time, no see! It’s been over a month since I last posted because I’ve been dedicating every second I have to NaNoWriMo, and now here I am again to tell you how it all went. So, how did things go during NaNoWriMo 2021? Well, things went phenomenally well because my final word count is 82,773. I’ll be brutally honest and say I thought it’d be a mad dash towards the end because work takes up an incredible amount of time and makes days off a necessity for recuperation, sometimes meaning I’m too exhausted to focus on creating words and concepts out of thin air.
I certainly did not expect to complete the 50,000 word goal on the 18th of November. I’m actually incredibly proud of myself and the work I was able to put in, the commitment I was able to offer to this manuscript. Usually, I have about a hundred ideas going on at once that I focus down to a few, alternating projects, cycling them around because I really loathe being stagnant, I’m always creating and conjuring stories.
But to see that, for 30 entire days, I was able to focus on just one project and write 82,773 words of that single manuscript, I was impressed with myself, and it taught me how disciplined I can be (although I already knew this from my years of being a student who learns best independently). I think that’s a major part of why NaNoWriMo is so good; it can teach you a lot about who you are as a writer, how disciplined you are or how disciplined you need to be, what works best for you, how your muse is trained or might still need some training. I think we, as writers, are constantly discovering who we are, learning every day about our process and what makes us tick, and NaNoWriMo, because of the necessary dedication and concentration, is a really great way to teach you about yourself as you give your unadulterated attention to just one idea. During other months, there’s more room to wander and hide, more room to escape from what issues you might have with a story or your muse, but if you have to devote all your time to just one story, there’s nowhere else to go and that’s a brilliant way for you to give your attention to yourself to explore who you are as a writer.
Another thing the month reassured me about was that, boy, I really can write. If I ever doubted that about myself, all I need to do is look at this month of writing to remind myself that, when I’ve got the time and the concentration, I can whip up thousands of words. I’ve always said it, they might not necessarily be thousands of stellar words, but they are thousands of words that can be improved, and it’s always much easier to improve poor words than to improve upon nothing at all. I almost completed this manuscript in a month, and if I ever doubt my abilities again, I can tell myself I’m being ridiculous and that I’ve got proof that I sure can just write and write and write.
That graph there is my daily word count, and, as you can see, it fluctuates, kind of a lot. That’s down to a lot of different factors; time, energy, other tasks at hand, just to name a few. I’ve already built a habit of writing pretty much every single day, and I think that’s one of the reasons I was so successful. Yes, my muse could be hard to wrangle some days, but I was always committed to writing at least something, even a few hundred words is better than zero. I know that is likely a struggle for some writers and it’s nothing to feel badly about, it’s just something to work on. As writers, we’re always improving, and knowing what you need to improve is the first, enormous step towards success.
Self-congratulations over (though I must emphasise how important it is to boost yourself up and to congratulate yourself for all your work because a lot of the writing process is done alone with only your company and you might not get more congratulations until the book is published, so being your own source of congratulations is crucial), what comes next?
If you’re following this blog, like I said in my last post, I’ve got Project #1 which is shortly out of its first draft, and I’ve also got Project #2 which is in its second draft (and has been for a while now because of my attention being pulled elsewhere). Project #2 is of a much larger scale than both Project #1 and Project #3 or OFBB which I worked on for NaNoWriMo, both of the others being standalone novels whereas Project #2 is a series, potentially quite a sizeable series. So how do I fit all three of these projects together in a reasonable and sensical way?
What I think is for the best is keeping Project #2 to weekends like I was doing before whilst continuing with Project #3 until it’s in a completed draft stage, which won’t be that long. From then on, I think it’d be for the best for Project #1 to take a backseat. It certainly wasn’t what I envisioned, I named it #1 because I thought it would be my first manuscript but, at this stage, things have changed. It isn’t smart to spread yourself over hundreds of projects and I am always in such danger of doing that. I know I will return to Project #1 in the future, but we’ve got some great momentum on Project #3. Arguably, momentum is vital for stories, and so I want to keep it going.
For anyone else who was participating this year, I hope your NaNoWriMo project was successful and completed! And, if perhaps it wasn’t, I think it’s important to find successes even if you didn’t complete your goal. Whether you wrote 50,000 words, 15,000, 5,000 or even 500, you still tried to partake in this marathon and you still wrote something that can be used in the future. Even if you didn’t manage to write a single word, I would just say, ask yourself what stopped you, and then work on it and start afresh next year. There’s nothing wrong with failure, it shouldn’t be this abhorrent, weighted word, it should be an acknowledgment that the goals that were set weren’t reached, and you can use failure to see what you can do better next time.
I’m sure there are so many beautiful stories and concepts out there now that didn’t exist 30 days ago, and I can’t wait to see my own story evolve as I refine it, and I look forward to the day where I can share it with you.