Technically, I won NaNoWriMo today.
The challenge for National Novel Writing Month is to produce a 50,000-word novel (or 50,000 words toward a novel) during the 30 days of November. Anyone who does that is considered a winner.
The first time I participated in NaNoWriMo, three years ago, I hit my 50,000 words at 11:35 p.m. on November 30 in a McDonald’s just off I-15. I really took it down to the wire, but I won.
During my second year at NaNo I raised my personal bar to 60,000 words. I didn’t quite get there (I “only” wrote 55,380 during the month) but I still won because I hit the 50,000-word goal. Last year I sailed to success with 59,935 words at the end of the month. I put away that book to focus on a full revision of my first, so that particular draft still sits on my hard drive, unfinished at just over 120,000 words.
This year, I’m not capping my goal. I’m just going to try to write as many words as I can and not stop on November 30. I also have to finish the last three or four chapters of the book I started last year, so December will continue to be a busy writing month for me.
That said, tonight I sat down and cranked out some words. I learned some new things about my characters, and had a couple of great brainstorms about where this particular story is headed. I new McGuffin cropped up, and I trusted the story enough to write it in and figure out the details later. The details actually came to me on the drive home, so now I have a whole new idea to explore with this story, and will go back to my previous book and weave a few hints and rumors into it so everything works.
Most importantly, I crossed the critical 50,000-word barrier and “won” the challenge:
So … yay.
I still have seven writing days left in November. If I continue with my daily goal of between 2,000 and 2,500 words per day, I should easily end the month with 65,000 words toward this book. I might hit 70K, but that’s not the point. As I always say, they’re not perfect words. They’re not all amazing, and lots of them will be cut or replaced. The true magic in writing doesn’t happen when you’re drafting, but during the editing, polishing, and perfecting that comes after. But you can’t polish and perfect unless you have a pile of words to start with, and NaNoWriMo has taught me how to turn off my inner critic and crank out the raw material of writing.
To anyone still plugging away at NaNoWriMo … fight the good fight. You can win. It can be done.
After that, the real fun begins….