Is there anything more daunting than a blank page to a writer?
I could argue that there is, especially if the writer has a life outside of sitting hunched over their keyboard, but it depends on the writer. My personal motto: too much of anything is bad. Too many blank pages. Too much time spent at a keyboard.
So it surprised the heck out of me when I decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month, affectionately known as NaNoWriMo, for the first time ever. The name kind if says it all, but the objective is to write fifty thousand words in the month of November.
Quick, how many days in November again? Thirty.
Quick, what’s the math like on that? It’s about 1,667 words a day to reach a goal of 50k, give or take a few chapter headings, in thirty days time.
Quick, back to the calendar. Is Thanksgiving still a thing? It is. Even in the middle of a pandemic? Apparently so.
I never would have agreed to attempt this without support from the writing community. I count myself lucky to have fallen in with a diverse group of women. We have at least one grizzled NaNoWriMo veteran, two screenwriters adapting their work to novel form, another working on a sequel to her self-published novel, and at least two of us working on first drafts of long-fiction fantasy pieces that include time travel. We didn’t plan it that way, it just kind of worked out. Yep, I’m in the last group, but even one of the screenwriter’s work includes time travel.
I am not entirely a pantser or a plotter, but a hybrid of the two. I’ll make an outline and go from there. If something drastic happens, I scrap the outline, start a new one, and continue on. But 1,667 words every day has been a stretch for me. If the first of November hadn’t been on a Sunday, I might have been doomed from the beginning. As I type this (which I’m not adding to my total for the day, thank you) I still have about 600 words to go to make my goal for today. I’m not worried. Much.
As a result, I’ve made some changes to my writing routine. Meet the newest member of the 5 a.m. writer’s club. *Waves* This necessitates my being in bed at a decent time, so as to have enough shut-eye to function, which helps line the rest of the day up accordingly. When your goal is to be in bed by ten, so you can be up at five for some uninterrupted writing time you’ve got to have a plan. But life continues. Elections happen. Presidents get elected and the same people who told everyone to get over their loss four years ago now can’t seem to get over their own. Add to that anxiety over the overwhelming increases in COVID cases and I’m really not sure why I decided to do this.
But I’m happy I did. The story I chose to write, with different locations and times has kept me engaged and I’m excited to get a first draft down on the page. And a first draft it is. I’m not sure what the final word count will be when it’s over, but I think it will be longer than 50k.
This year has been one for the history books, but I know I’ve still got a lot to be thankful for. I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and hope that you find a way to connect with loved ones over the holiday even if it has to be over the telephone or computer.
Be safe and well!