We’re officially halfway through November, which means we’re halfway through NaNoWriMo. And ooh boy, it’s been a roller coaster so far. If you only looked at my word count, you’d probably think NaNo was going amazingly for me this year. And you would be very wrong. I’ve been consistently ahead since day one and haven’t missed a single day of writing yet. On paper, this is my most successful NaNo ever. In terms of word count. But in terms of my story and what it took to get to that word count? Oooh boy, that’s a horse of an entirely different color.
November started off with a resounding whomp when I got hit with a nasty cold literally on day one. It didn’t stop me from writing, but it definitely made it harder. Through the first week, I was fighting for every single word against brain fog and sniffles. I didn’t like what I was writing, but dammit it was NaNo, so I kept at it. And then week two hit.
My cold lifted and I dove into Double Up Donation Day with renewed energy. I attempted a 10k writing day, which ended up only being a 4k writing day but that’s still about double what I write on a normal day so I celebrated. Except that I still didn’t like what I was writing. And not in the normal NaNoWriMo, fast-drafting, wow every single word of this is crap kind of way. I mean I didn’t like my story. The one I’d been so excited to get started on in October that I considered rebelling by starting early. The one that I had plotted and planned but not over-plotted because I knew that would take away some of the magic. That one? Yeah, I hated it.
Every NaNo, every writing project really, I learn something about myself as a writer. And the biggest lesson from the first half of NaNo 2019 is that just because I like to read a certain type of story, doesn’t mean I’ll enjoy writing it. I’ve been devouring mysteries in the last couple of years and was super excited to put my own spin on one for this year’s project. But here’s the thing: while I’m delightfully entertained by the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Hercule Poirot, writing my own mystery was boring as hell. Somehow, I’d forgotten the major lesson that I learned from last year’s NaNo project and the revisions I spent most of the year doing: I am a character writer. They are what get me through the boring or hard parts of writing. If I don’t love them, if they’re not evolving and growing through the story and the occasionally evil crap I throw their way, there’s no reason for me to write the story.
Fortunately, or unfortunately, for me I realized all of this while I was already ahead of my word count, sitting at exactly 25k for the month a few days ago. Which begs the question: now what? Do I throw out all of those words and attempt a mad dash toward 50k in the last two weeks of the month? Do I keep the word count and just write 25k of a new story? Do I say fuck it and write 25k of whatever I damn well please with the characters I’ve already created? I haven’t actually decided yet. But there’s one thing I know I will not be doing: giving up. This NaNo might not be exactly what I expected it to be, but as always, it’s been a learning experience.
How’s your NaNoWriMo 2019 going so far? If you’re in the same boat as I am, check out this video from the NaNoWriMo YouTube channel featuring Kevin from Kevlandia: