Today is the beginning of week four of NaNoWriMo. Up until last night, I firmly believed that I wouldn’t make 50k words by next Tuesday. That was because for about three days, I couldn’t manage to write more than a few hundred words a day. Yesterday I cranked out over 5200 words. Now, I’m pretty sure that if I can manage 5k words a day for only six days, I’ll more than make it. So I can do this!
I’m getting excited again. Not the same excited from the beginning, though. This excitement comes from the realization that I can accomplish this task. No matter how many late, late nights where my brain gets extra crispy, I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Everyone starts off totally hyped during week one. By week two you’re pulling your hair out and running around the house screaming at the top of your lungs. By week three, you settle into a sort of acceptance. Either you will finish or you won’t. You just choose to plug along and see what happens.
Once I hit the midway point I felt like celebrating. I looked back over the previous weeks and 25k words and thought, that wasn’t so tough. Then I laughed at myself for that thought. It was tough. Even though I had an outline that was about 3/4 of the way completed, I found myself adding several chapters to make the story flow better. I’ve also created about 8 new minor characters, all of whom I’m keeping track of on 3×5 cards.
Now that the finish line is in sight, I am pumped up again. I’m pushing myself to get 5k words a day and rising to the challenge. I’m also learning more about me as a writer. I’m seeing that I am capable of planning as I go (don’t worry, I’m not turning into a Pantser), and my imagination is wilder than I ever thought it was. I’m also able to see holes and issues that I know I will have to go back and fix later. But that’s ok. The first draft isn’t supposed to be pretty. It’s supposed to be a work in progress.
For me, learning how to write on the fly is a big deal. I’ve always been the planner. I had to have everything planned down to the nth degree. However, I’m finding that with age and writing come wisdom. Sometimes it’s ok just to let the story take you where it wants to go. It does know better than you after all, where it’s supposed to logically end up.
I’m watching my characters and planets come alive. I can actually hear their voices as I write their dialogue. And even as I try to sleep, they are talking to me; telling me where they want the story to go. I’m growing the more I write and it’s a beautiful thing.
Once NaNoWriMo is over, I plan to keep up the pace. After all, the book isn’t going to stop at 50k words so why should I? It’s going to be amazing to finally type “The End”. This will be the first book in which I will complete the entire first draft. Then, I’ll take about a month-long break, work on short stories, and come back to it with fresh eyes. I’m getting excited again just thinking about the rewrite stage!
There are a few people who I know who have already completed the 50k mark and are heading into upwards of 60-110k words. I’d like to give a huge shout of KUDOS to Patricia Markham Woodside and Stan Field. You’ve made it. Keep going. Who knows, you may actually complete the entire first draft of your manuscript by next Wednesday at the rate you’re going.
So to all of you out there sprinting in on the last leg, keep at it. You can do it. As the venerable Yoda once said, “Do or do not, there is not try!”