When I first planned on publishing a new NaNoWriMo Inspiration post for you every day in November, I had plenty of time to get them ready and to get my own novel ready to write. With all that preparation completed, I therefore had grand expectations about how my NaNoWriMo 2014 experience would start.
I fully expected that I would wake up on the morning of November 1st 2014 to sunshine filling my bedroom and the strong urge to write for hours on end making my jump out of bed. It would, after all, be a Saturday and for some reason, in this equation I also saw myself dressed in a Victorian style nightgown and for a pair of singing birds to pull my curtains back as the sun flooded into my bedroom.
If you haven't already guessed, I'm about to tell you that this was NOT how my third NaNoWriMo began.
It began by waking up late, hungover and with last night's clothes in a puddle by my bed. My pink pyjama bottoms were back to front and I'd overslept by several more hours than I would have liked.
However, after a cup of tea and a shower, I got writing. It was a Saturday and I was in the UK and had plans to spend the weekend at my friend's house up near Cambrudge, a two hour drive away - but only after I'd finished my word count. Work emails were quiet, I switched the Internet off and I told myself I wasn't allowed to leave for my road trip until I had written 2500 words. (I was setting myself higher than necessary word counts as I had a busy work week ahead of me, plus I find the pace easier to maintain when I'm ahead - as I discussed in this post.)
There followed just under three hours of stop-start writing. Some of it was good, most of it was average and more than I would have liked was poor. But that is what NaNoWriMo is all about - shitty first draft material. I was following the scene by scene structure I'd planned, but as helpful as it was, it also quickly felt rudimentary, like my creativity and imagination was being muted. I think this is because when I wrote my short stories all I had for each was a 2-3 sentence outline of what I wanted to roughly happen in a story, or what the starting scenario was. The rest and indeed many twists and turns evolved organically.
But I know that I cannot write a novel like this. I have to have a direction, a step-by-step idea of what happens and when, or I will get lost.
In many ways this little introduction to Day One of my NaNoWriMo experience goes some way to sum up what the whole of this week has been like; it has not been as pleasant or as perfect as I would have hoped, But this is mostly because I was at a trade show and conference from Monday to Thursday and seeing friends in the evening for much of the week, so I've been overdoing it and "fresh" is something I haven't felt in a long time. I did my best to grab ten or twenty minute writing sessions in between meetings and appointments (in coffee shops, pubs, train station waiting rooms - anywhere!) and to my surprise at 8957 words in 6 days, I have only fallen slightly behind on the word count, and I've blocked off Saturday morning to catch up.
You may be now questioning why I didn't follow my own advice and not cancel all of my social and work appointments to give me the best chance of winning NaNoWriMo? Well, this year seeing friends, family and attending the work event in London was non-negotiable and had been booked for some time.
It was also intentional. If I'm going to be a "serious" writer and maintain a pace of publishing books that hopefully grows my business as a professional, independent author, I have to learn to weave writing into my daily life no matter where that takes me or what my other commitments are. While I'm not ahead (as I normally like to be at this stage) I have written something every single day. Knowing that this was going to be my busiest week of the month, by far, this is something I'm proud of.
Furthermore, it's important to remember this is what NaNoWriMo is like for most people. It's an important personal challenge that is squeezed in between the realities of daily life. It is a quick 300 words on your phone as you wait for the bus, it's a blurry 500 words before you go to bed and it's a brave attempt at 1000 words after setting your morning alarm for an hour earlier than it's usual time.
That's what makes NaNoWriMo a challenge.
And it's what will make the victory come 30th November - whatever that looks like - all the sweeter.
What did your first week look like? I'd love to hear all about it.
Now, I'm off to squeeze in another few hundred words...
Frances M. Thompson
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