Yesterday I did something I wasn’t quite sure I’d do. I hit 40,860 words on the National Novel Writing Challenge I undertook at the beginning of the month. For someone who has never even attempted a novel before it seemed daunting at first. I only had two days notice of the challenge, even though I had a friend & improv teammate who swore by it & has been doing it for years. I can clearly see why.
I am typically someone who has a game plan for everything. I didn’t have time for one here though. I had to totally fly by the seat of my pants for this. I have written it entirely in a free flowing style whatever came to mind, came out & on to the page. I write what comes until it is tapped out, won’t come out anymore. I think that’s an accomplishment in itself, as spontaneity is not typically in my usual “wheelhouse”.
I had no outline, no plot. The idea for the novel came to me at 3am the day the challenge started. I was nervous as hell. Interesting premise but I had no idea if it would last the duration. If anyone else would want to read it.
It appears to be going the distance. Guess what, I’m also having fun. Not hating it or feeling like it’s drudgery. I only was stuck about one or two days. When that happened, I took that time to review & flesh out some more things in what I had already written because that seemed to get things going. It also seemed to make sense. Then, it all came back & moved forward again.
I even had a time where I lost my first chapter & it couldn’t be recovered. I panicked since I hadn’t really backed it up. There was a reference I needed in there. I remembered that reference but had to start back at the beginning after being 4-5 chapters in when this “snafu” hit. I managed to work through it, recreating that lost chapter. I kept the rest moving forward in the process, despite the panicky feeling. Despite the little bit of anger & frustration. Good lessons in that too. But even that wasn’t enough to stop me.
Now, I need less than a full 10,000 words to make the 50,000 “winning” mark. It’s within reach, definitely.
Yet, I didn’t come this far alone. I’ve had the encouragement of so many friends both online & off. I’ve had the encouragement of writing buddies of all ages & interests I’ve met through blogging & Twitter.
I’ve had the support of local people who have set up a plethora of write-ins to change up the environment. I’ve met new people in my own backyard who are fun & supportive. We cheer each other on.
I’ve also had people from my hometown (who had encouraged my writing poetry from an early age) also cheering me on from afar. Tweet chat buddies, other Facebook & Twitter friends have all made a point to acknowledge this milestone when it hit it yesterday in their own ways. Even other NanoWriMo participants I don’t know are getting behind me. What a breath of fresh air!
A novel writing program I’ve been using for this challenge offered a free trial to participants. Their tech support did their best to try & recover my lost chapter after I asked them for help.
Yet, since this is a program for writers by writers, they care enough about their users to engage with them. They gift cool things to us like this hand-drawn dinosaur for our accomplishments.
The few buddies I’ve circulated my 25K draft to for a quick peek, have all been supportive but offered useful & constructive feedback to make it even better. I’ll take under advisement when I revise & edit after the new year. (Guess what! I didn’t put them to sleep either.)
What a crazy journey, but a worthwhile one. (Such parallels to my transplant journey, honestly. The same can be said for that at times as well.)
Sometimes, it really is worth it to do things outside your comfort zone. Some beautiful things can come out of it. One of my LAM sisters always shares this quote, “Dwell in possibility” often. I see what she means & why she does.
~ Always do what you are afraid to do. — Ralph Waldo Emerson