I had a hard time getting to sleep last night. Hubby and I watched the 2016 Ghostbusters that evening and the movie romped about my head, along with all the jokes, the characters, and the plot points that rattled like loose change if you shook them too hard. Ghostbusters, however, was only background noise. NaNoWriMo was really what kept me up. In only a few hours I would join thousands in the great migration from November 1st + 0 words, to November 30th + 50,000 words.
If you aren’t familiar with NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) the goal is to write 50,000 words, which comes down to an average of 1,667 words per day. If you’ve got 12 pt Times New Roman font and 1.5 spacing like me, that’s about 4 pages.
The month is full of people complaining, chugging coffee, writing crap, and loving every minute.
I prepped like crazy for this writing marathon. The first draft of my outline poured out of my head in April. I let it rest over the summer and reworked it in October. Now I have a 28 page outline that is laid out scene by scene. I have mapped my plot threads, my visual themes, my character arcs, my beats, and I am ready to go.
But still. Last night I worried. As I readjusted my pillow for the millionth time, I asked myself: Will these bullet point scenes survive the process? Do I have the skill to make it not only to 50k, but to the end of the story? Will I need to rewrite a lot later, or will all of this material be worthwhile?
I have analyzed my craft enough to know that it is technically possible to write a worthwhile 50k in 30 days, but the unmeasurable part of storytelling bothers me. I can’t quantify the heart of the story. Character psychology doesn’t fit into a chart; it needs to be set free. My story needs to unfold with the crackling of an old map. I can’t treat it like a graph on a scientific calculator. I need to let loose.
As I wrote this morning, on day 1 of NaNoWriMo, I turned 200 words of outline into 1690 words of manuscript. It is full of exposition, awkward transitions, ugly sentences, and notes-to-self (in parentheses). But it is written. And that is good. I’m hoping that NaNoWriMo’s whirlwind nature will save me from my perfectionism. I need to accept the gross first draft and learn to love the process. It’s go time and I am up for the challenge.
Fellow WriMos! How is Day 1 treating you?