Last year I took part in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) but didn’t finish the story that I started. There were many reasons for me not reaching the 50,000 word target; a big part of it is deadlines. We don’t get along, deadlines and I. Especially when it comes to creative projects.
Another thing was that I was basing my story on an already existing one by a different author. Not only that, but it was an extremely long one. The story was Varney the Vampire and if you’ve ever read the entire thing, congratulate yourself on finishing what it possibly the longest book ever written. Reading the whole 3,000 page story and trying to write 50,000 words in a month proved to be a little too much for me.
The daily quota of writing 1,600 words was okay at first, but after about a week of that I found myself struggling to create content. I had no idea where the story was going and I need a clearer sense of direction when I’m writing. As a result of this lack of direction, I was changing story elements constantly. I changed character names 3 or 4 times and it became difficult to keep track of all the changes I was making. I also wasn’t satisfied with the story that I was coming up with. Most of it was filler; stuff that I was throwing in just to try and meet the daily quote. That’s not my kind of writing at all. Not only in terms of the structure, but the style. This story really didn’t feel like me.
I can write 1,600 words a day but it’s not going to make a lot of sense. The mandate of the NaNoWriMo project is just to write, it doesn’t have to be a finished piece at the end but that’s not the way I write. Once I write something, I generally don’t make a lot of changes to it later. I write sequentially and when I’m writing part of a story, it’s nearly fully finished soon after I start it. That doesn’t really work for the type of writing required to complete a 50,000 word draft in a month.
There was also the fact that it needed to be an original story, not one that I had already worked on. I have dozens of story ideas, many of which I’ve already started on and some that I’m almost finished. I’d much rather try and finish a project that I started than try to come up with another new idea that ultimately goes nowhere.
It has literally gone nowhere. When December 1st came around, I stopped working on the story and haven’t touched it since. Someday I plan on re-writing and trying to salvage it, but for the time being I have my eye on other writing projects. Maybe I’ll finish it someday, maybe I won’t.
For these reasons, I’ll be participating in NaNoWriMo again this year… sort of. I’m going to do it on my terms.
First: it’s going to be a story that I started brainstorming a couple of years ago and actually did start writing. Not much was completed, basically half a page or so already existed.
Second: I started re-writing it a couple of weeks ago. I didn’t wait until November 1st to start. Right now I’m about 3 chapters and 800 words into it.
Third: I’m not going to set any word total or daily quota. Whatever I end up with is whatever I end up with. Basically, I’m starting it off as a short story. If it gets to be longer, it’ll become a novella. If I do get up to the 50,000 word range then it will become a novel.
Fourth: I’m not giving myself until the end of November. If I’m still writing it into the new year, so be it. It’ll get done when it gets done.
I really think this is the way to go for me. Do it on my own terms and at my own pace. If I go a few days or weeks without writing anything, that’s fine by me. I’m busy with work and other things in my life, I really don’t have a lot of time to spare and I’m not going to go out of my way to make time for this. Whenever I feel like writing, I’ll write. I have no expectations right now and I’ll wait to see where it takes me.
In my next post I’ll present the first chapter as a sneak preview. This is going to be much more my style of writing and I’m looking forward to finishing it, whenever that may be.