That’s how many words I’ve written so far, in the space of thirteen days. Nice big, odd number, that. Three words over the half way point. Can’t help but feel just a little bit of pride at getting this far with my first NaNoWriMo, and that’s perfectly okay (and encouraged!) because anyone who’s written any number of words this month deserves to feel proud of their achievement. For most of us, it’s more than we would ordinarily write, myself included. Hell, it’s more than many published authors write in that amount of time.
Tell you what, though: this experience has been pretty damn interesting. The week before NaNoWriMo started, I did a fair amount of planning. Outlines, character sheets, bits and pieces and scraps of notes, ideas that I thought I could use. I put them all down in my Scrivener document, ready and waiting for D-day. About ten days into it, I changed everything.
I hear that’s considered a bit of a no-no for NaNoWriMo, that you should just stick at it, persevere, keep going, just keep writing. But I felt like I was writing a sequel. I wanted to know what happened to my main character before all of this stuff, the stuff I was writing about, happened. I wanted to know the events leading up to the events that were unfolding on my screen. My mind kept drifting to an earlier point in the timeline of my story, and figured I’d have to write at least something about it if I wanted to be able to focus again. As it turned out, I’m still writing this “prequel” (I suppose that’s the best way to describe it) because it mostly seems to be writing itself.
Everything that I’d previously written isn’t suddenly irrelevant. It still fits into the grand scheme of my story, will still count towards my NaNoWriMo word count, and may appear as a story all of its own some day, possibly as a sequel. But what I do know for sure is that those 18,000-odd words definitely weren’t wasted. With every paragraph, my writing skills have improved, I’ve gotten back into the swing of things, started to challenge myself more, gained the ability to weave a mean sentence better than I could before. To witness that in the space of thirteen days is a pretty damn awesome experience, if you ask me.
I guess the point I’m making is that I now realise what’s so special about NaNoWriMo. It encourages people to start something, even if that something seems hard to reach. It gets us challenging ourselves, settings goals for ourselves, becoming motivated and disciplined. It encourages us to share and discuss and be creative ’til our heads are close to exploding. Yeah, it’s about writing, but I think it’s about more than that. I’ve learnt some things about myself during November that apply to me as a person, not just as a writer. I bet many others participating in NaNoWriMo have, too. That’s got to be considered a win.