It’s been a few days since I won Nanowrimo this year (my second year participating, and my second year winning) and the experience this year was quite different than the first.
Last year, I was convinced to do it by a friend on the evening of October 31st. All I had was a very loose idea for a story that was better suited to a rom-com screenplay than a novel. It didn’t matter; I had an idea and I could easily work off that idea. So my first day of Nanowrimo was spent researching character names till 3am. My fifteenth day was spent wondering what happened to the original story I “planned” and by the thirtieth day I had a completed a novel that changed so drastically somewhere in the middle that I’d spend the better half of the following year trying to figure out how to make it work. I mean, I had a more detailed backstory for the main character than I did an actual story for the novel. It was ridiculous. I only won out of pure stubbornness.
Fast forward to this year. I was not about to go into it with an unplanned, vague idea for a novel. I started planning it in September. I had most of the names picked out (which is the absolute worst kind of research) and started plotting out scenes and doing character charts. This year I was excited to get started because I had this plan. This novel wasn’t going to take over this time; it wasn’t going to turn left and surprise me with what I found around the corner. No, this time I was in charge. I WAS IN CONTROL DAMMIT! Or so I thought.
I followed my outline at first, but, as I began to write things started to change on their own. I’d get an idea I didn’t think of during my planning sessions and I’d run with it. I didn’t have a very strict outline for this novel, mostly a lot of general ideas that I would fill in along the way. Little did I know that along the way the story started to morph into something I hadn’t planned on in the beginning. It was 2012 all over again.
Compounded with some real-life stuff I was dealing with and responsibilities and all those things you can’t escape for 30 days, there were a string of days where I didn’t write. I watched as my word count to complete on time rose while the days in which to do it dwindled. Soon I was almost 20,000 words behind and had a week to finish. On November 1st, writing a little over 1,600 words a day didn’t seem like such a big deal and then all of a sudden things seemed so overwhelming I contemplated just giving up and calling it a day. But, with the way things in my life were going, the idea of failing at this was a little more than I could bare. So, I sucked it up and just started writing again, forcing myself to stay up till the wee hours of the morning until I hit that day’s word count (I write best at night).
During running errands on the 28th and 29th I was typing away on my phone trying to squeeze out every spare second of writing time. Visiting my aunt on the night second to last night of November I only put my phone down to eat a donut and cuddle with the cat (I do have my priorities, after all).
On November 30th I had 3,000 words left to win. 3,000! 6 days earlier I couldn’t have imagined being that close to finishing. The following is an accurate depiction of my last few hours of nanowrimo 2013:
At 48,526 words I’d pretty much finished my novel but I couldn’t not leave it 14,000 ish words short. After realizing that hitting my head on my keyboard would up my word count, but not with actual words, I just started to write what turned into a new chapter that sets up a potential sequel. And then, finally, at 3:00 pm I verified my novel and with 50,019 words I won nanowrimo for the second year in a row.
I celebrated with some leftover pizza and a nap and then decided not to look at my novel for a week.
And now that week is almost up so it’s time to start editing and rewriting and maybe start thinking of an idea for next year.