November’s End: The NaNo update

December 15, 2015

I have a pretty big announcement to make. On the 30th of November, after a month of illness and grouchiness filled with days (and sleepless nights) where I had literally nothing to do except write, I won NaNoWriMo for the first time since I first attempted the challenge way back in 2008. It’s kind of a big deal for me, because it’s the first time (and I know, this sounds pretty bad) that I committed to writing every single day and actually managed to stick to that commitment.

So anyway, it’s now the 15th of December and I haven’t ‘written’ a single thing since the 1st. Now I have my excuses – I’ve been busy with work, I’ve been healthy enough to seek out activities outside of my snot-stained bedsheets, and my brain is slowly becoming filled with glittery, jingling alarm bells as Christmas draws closer and I realise that I haven’t even begun shopping yet.

So I haven’t really been writing. What I have been doing is planning. I’ll be honest with you – I wasn’t happy with the way my NaNo novel turned out. For one thing, it’s nowhere close to finished – 50,000 words has only carried my beloved protagonists through a single plot point, and they’re not a whole lot closer to uncovering the mystery that has haunted all of their lives for more than ten years, defeating the darkness that destroyed their childhoods, or avenging the friend they didn’t have the strength to save. Part of the problem (most of the problem) is that I just didn’t know any of that stuff was on the agenda until I’d spent 30,000 words aimlessly shuffling those protagonists around in the hope that a plot would leap out at me.

So now I’m thinking things through. Who are my protagonists? Who are they really? What do they want? Why do they want it? Where are they going? There’s a lot of ‘W’-words in italics involved. It’s tricky stuff.

The short version is, I’m not writing. At this rate, I might not be writing for a while. But when I do start writing, I’ll be writing more carefully, more confidently than I’ve ever written before, because I won’t be churning out words without purpose to meet an arbitrary deadline – I’ll be churning out words with a plan. And thanks to NaNoWriMo, I have a solid foundation of words on which to build this novel, brick by brick.