Shelley Widhalm

Gearing up for NaNoWriMo (with some hesitation)

In NaNoWriMo, Shelley Widhalm on November 1, 2015 at 11:00 am

Welcome National Novel Writing Month, when first-time and seasoned writers write 50,000 words in 30 days, which equals to about 1,667 words a day.

I debated whether or not to do NaNoWriMo again this year and hesitated doing so, because I’m in the middle of a project and have to get surgery on my hands in December. But then I decided to do what I can—50,000 words or half that, as long as I keep plugging away at my literary, character-driven novel, “The Heat of Trouble.” It’s about a waitress who can’t play her music because of underlying trauma.

As of mid-October, the last time I worked on my novel, I was at 34,302 words (plus another 820 words of planning, though this is a pantser novel despite my tendency to plot). I worked steadily on the project since I began in June, putting in one to three writing sessions a week, but in October, I began editing my young adult novel, “In the Grace of Beautiful Stars,” for about the 12th edit, though I’ve lost count.

I became focused on the editing and just wanted to finish, so I put my writing on hold. I completed the nearly month-long project on Oct. 28, three days shy of two years when I started writing the young adult novel about a 15-year-old girl who relies on money finding to solve her family crisis. I wrote the novel, which I originally called “The Money Finder” and later realized the title didn’t quite fit, during NaNoWriMo 2013, plus another two weeks in December, finishing the first draft in six weeks. I worked on editing over the next 22 months.

In 2014, I decided not to do NaNoWriMo, berating myself a little for not participating, but I didn’t have an idea for a new project, though I do plan to write a sequel to my YA novel and redo my memoir about growing up shy and awkward. Instead, I did more editing.

By 2015, I felt like something was missing—that was writing—and so I returned to my love of writing (editing is fun for the first couple of drafts, but after that, it feels like more work and less play). Being in the middle of a writing project, I can’t start a new one (with a full-time job, I need to focus the few free hours I have each week on one project, or I feel distracted, scattered and unfocused). Hence, my goal is to reach 84,302 words by Nov. 30. (Or at least 59,302 words.)

Why? Because the novel will be done, or close to it.

And then it will be back to editing. And more editing.

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