This year was my first year to participate in National Novel Writing Month, and I won! The goal is to write 50,000 words in thirty days. I reached the 50k word goal today, but my novel isn’t done. I’m close to the end but still have a couple thousand more words to write before I can type “The End.”
Not actually being done with this manuscript and the fact that I can’t validate my novel on NaNoWriMo’s website until November 20th to earn the trophy badge makes today’s progress feel like less of a ‘win.’ I unlocked so many badges early on that I thought orange was the normal color on this progress graph (brown is normal):
Now, this little chart is taunting me, reminding me constantly that I can’t claim that final badge!
I’m glad to have succeeded at getting 50k words. I’m more glad that I got back into first-drafting again. After writing (drafting) for a year, I spent three and half months editing and revising one of my manuscripts. THREE AND A HALF MONTHS. Needless to say, I was thorough: I revised it twice, editing along the way, added 20k words, cut 15k words, made a few more revisions, sent it to beta readers, added four new chapters based on their input, and am still finding ways to tweak it as I read through it again.
The revision project took me to a very analytical place as a writer. It helped me understand how to be improve my writing and taught me the importance of mapping out story arcs and plot points. Part of me was worried that I had gone too far in the direction of being precise and analytical though. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to really write anymore.
Writing is an art form. You can calculate the plot meticulously, spell and grammar check to precision, but in the end, the way you string words together and the story you tell is a form of art.
I had an outline of my fairy tale plot when I started NaNoWriMo. It wasn’t until I was about 3000 words into the manuscript that I felt the creative side of me returning. My excitement and enthusiasm for the story returned, and my imagination went wild coming up with new scenes that somehow became essential to the plot.
I’m excited to finish this manuscript and read some books over the remaining half of this month. After that, I’m not sure what I’ll do. December is wide open. Should I draft a brand new story that has been patiently waiting to be written, edit and revise one of the manuscripts I’ve already drafted, or focus on organizing and re-writing book two of my mental breakdown?