Saturday was officially a good day.
Not only did I complete Couch to 5K (finally) but I also filed my 50K to become a NaNoWriMo2015 winner. I was (and still am if the truth be told) unashamedly proud of myself for both, which I know is a bit uncool.
There is no way I could have written 50k if fate hadn’t played a hand though, there simply wouldn’t have been enough hours or energy in the day otherwise. When my wart turned out not to be a wart I decided, with encouragement from Mark, not to accept any more freelance work for November. The last thing I wanted to do was take a job and then have to cancel it because the consultant appointment or operation date had come through. It meant that when my mum and dad visited twice a week (barring my dad being poorly, a visit to the dentist, a hospital appointment and train disruption) and for an hour or so at night I was mostly able to write for fun.
That doesn’t mean it was all plain sailing. A couple of days into week three and I was ready to give up, sure that I would never make it. Freya had been up in the night even more than usual and the last thing I wanted to do when she went to bed (for a couple of hours) was sit down and write.
With the deadline looming though the journalist in me kicked in. MUST NOT MISS A DEADLINE. So I ploughed on. I was still unsure right up to Saturday whether I would be able to do it or not but running the 5K with ease (a post on that coming up) gave me a much-needed boost of confidence.
I thought it would be fun if I did a Q&A with myself about the experience.
So, Tara, this is your first NaNoWriMo. What are some of the key things you have learned?
- Planning is a must – I would certainly have more of a plan for my story if I did it again. This time I took two characters who had been sitting around in my head for a while and a basic plot and just let them go for it. I really enjoyed this at the start but I was about four chapters in when the story took a turn which really needed me to rewrite parts but, of course, there isn’t really time to rewrite.
- It was never going to be a complete novel – I started off thinking I would write it in order but that just wasn’t possible. As well as six pretty solid chapters at the start and two at the end I spent the rest of the time writing scenes, which may or may not make the final cut but were really useful in getting to know my characters better.
- New software love – Scrivener is now my software of choice. I joined a NaNo Norfolk Facebook group and some of those taking part mentioned they used it so I took a look about a week into writing. I’m really only using the basics, which was all I had time to learn, and I already find it so useful. I was enjoying the free 30 day trial and was about to buy it when I got an email saying because I had completed NaNo I had a nice discount available. I would have paid full price.
- I can do it – I suppose that’s the biggest lesson. The most I’ve ever written is three chapters. Then all the doubts about not being a very good creative writer, about my plot being weak and my characters not believable bubble up to the surface and I stop. A few days or weeks later the need returns and I start a new story (and repeat). Now I know if I set my mind to it and ignore all the negative voices, I have a book in me. Whether it’s a book anyone will want to read is another matter but I think I need to write for me first.
What were the hardest things?
Finding time. Even with my mum and dad looking after Freya for (roughly) two days a week I still struggled to meet the target every day. When I got behind it would feel like the mountain was too high to climb but it helped that I was enjoying seeing where my story was going (and that I’m paranoid about deadlines). Clearly I was lucky to be able to take a month off (part time) work but it did feel a bit self-indulgent even though I did it for reasons other than NaNo.
What about the book then?
As I said, it’s not quite there yet. Some rewriting is needed and then I need to finish the middle. My plan is to let it sit for a while because the strange thing is it’s made me more focussed on the previous story I was working on.
Would I do it again?
Hell yeah (providing I have the time).