Shelley Widhalm

Archive for November, 2013|Monthly archive page

Loving, Hating NaNoWriMo

In 52: A Writer's Life, NaNoWriMo, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on November 10, 2013 at 11:00 am

I’m having a love-hate relationship with NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month.

Initially, I wasn’t sure I wanted to participate in the annual novel writing challenge during the month of November to write 50,000 words in 30 days, or an average of 1,666 words a day.

The love part is I’m doing it, while the hate part is I have to do it. I told my family and friends about my challenge goal, plus announced it on Facebook and in my blog. I don’t want to report at the end of the month that “Oh yeah, I just didn’t feel like writing after all.”

On the first day of the challenge on Friday, Nov. 1, I had a bit of a head start with a 3,250-word short story that I plan to expand into a 60,000- to 70,000-word young adult novel, a genre I haven’t tried before.

The first three days went perfectly, when I wrote 1,300 words the first day and another 1,300 words the second day, followed by 2,500 on day 3.

I turned off the self-editor and simply wrote, knowing I had a goal of 1,666 words, even if I didn’t reach it initially. I got absorbed in telling the story, developing my characters and carrying along the plot I briefly had sketched out, thinking, “This is a really good book that I’m writing.”

On Day 4 I had excuses for not writing: 1 million errands to do, a day with my mom and a birthday dinner with my brother; plus, I felt too tired to open up my laptop after a dozen hours of constant moving.

Day 5 was better. I wrote 1,800 words, feeling the vibe of my continual writing flow. There wasn’t any time lapse between writing episodes (like a few days or weeks filled with excuses, as is my normal routine), so I had my plot, characters and setting forefront in my mind. I wrote fast in two hours and felt quite proud.

And then on Day 6, I wondered if what I was writing actually was crap. Did I really understand how a 15-year-old thinks, and did I know how being a teenager has changed over the years? Why was I working in a genre I hadn’t studied seriously enough, only reading a few young adult books and being a reporter in schools, but only occasionally?

I still wrote anyway, because I had 1,666 words to write. I wrote 1,800 because I wanted to finish the scene I somehow had developed. I closed my computer, hoping that what I wrote wasn’t really awful.

I kept on writing through the rest of the week, logging in a total of 17,348 words for days 1-9. I figured I had started, so I wasn’t going to stop because of a few insecurities.

After one week and a couple of days, I get the purpose of NaNoWriMo. It’s about discipline and just doing it, not worrying about the final draft when it’s a rough draft with lots of potential. Writing daily, or nearly every day, allows the story to unfold more organically, one scene leading to the next as you let the subconscious and your speedy fingers take over.

Because it’s all about the numbers after all. And, of course, the words.


The NaNoWriMo Challenge

In 52: A Writer's Life, NaNoWriMo, Shelley Widhalm, Writing on November 3, 2013 at 11:00 am

For the first time, I am taking on the NaNoWriMo challenge.

Every year I come up with multiple reasons why I don’t want to participate, such as: I work; I’m tired; I’m not disciplined enough to write daily; and, best of all, I’m already in the middle of a novel.

This year I am not writing a novel, because of the pleasure of procrastination and the excuse that I’m editing another novel. I’ve convinced myself that I can only work on one major writing project at a time.

Hardly true, considering that as a reporter, I don’t write one article, then go onto the next, but write several articles at once – otherwise, I’d be given one of those pretty pink slips.

Throwing all excuses and insecurities aside, I am committed to write by the end of this month a young adult, coming-of-age novel that I’ve been pondering for months.

I’m participating in the annual novel writing project that brings together writers worldwide who aim to write 50,000 words in 30 days. That is 1,666 words a day, totally doable, because when I write I aim for 1,000 to 2,000 words.

The goal of NaNoWriMo is to do fast writing, not actually to write something perfect. You can write a crappy first draft and just let go, expelling the cranky editor, procrastinator and creative excuse maker.

So far, I’ve written 6,017 words, but 3,249 words were from an outline and short story starter I wrote last month.

Each Sunday, I will check in and let you know about the process of daily writing, as well as give tips on daily dedication, motivation and inspiration.

So, here’s to NaNoWriMo!