Nobody talked me into joining the yearly 30-day long challenge called NaNoWriMo, where one tries to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. But I decided to try it this year because it seemed like one way to jump start a middle-grade novel I’ve been trying to start since 2004 or thereabouts. I had no plans to write much more than 30,000 words, so I decided not to follow the rules. I would make the commitment to write every day for a month.
I took advantage of the forums, though I noticed that the only forum for children’s book writers is pretty much about YA, and most who post are YAs. I did not allow myself to feel out of place because my MC was not a changeling or a vampire and had fun commiserating with the young folk. I also took advantage of the Facebook page, posting progress once in a while, relishing cheers from friends and commenting on other posts from complete strangers who were taking the challenge. I also tried out my character names on a message board and got some feedback on their possible connotations, something I’d never considered. I found out that everyone loves the name Wiley. Yay!
So yeah, now I’m a believer in NaNoWriMo. I got all my other work done during the day and just raked out some more time to write this book, usually while dinner was burning. The goal was small, just 1,000 words a day. Most days I’ve written more than that, but have not skipped a day, because others have mentioned that skipping a day causes stress and guilt. So today, with a goal of 30,000 words, I’m about 1,000 words away from the finish line. But the story isn’t done yet, go figure. When it’s finished, I’ll start revising, a little each day.
To my dear friend who actually suffered nerve damage in her arm from struggling with this challenge for the third year in a row, padding sentences with extra adjectives and adverbs in a mad dash to reach the magic 50K, and to everyone else who stresses through the journey, reaching for what may be an impossible or unrealistic goal, I say whoa! Think about an exercise like this as an opportunity to figure out how to make a little time to do what you wish you had time to do. I don’t think it should be a grueling task, because we have enough grueling tasks! For me, taking the idea and retrofitting it a little to suit what I could manage, and enjoy, is working.