Reader, NaNoWriMo has been a really hard slog for me this year.
After returning from our wonderful trip to the UK, a month away from the pressures of my day job, where my focus was almost totally on my writing, I came back to a back log of work plus a few horrid surprises.
I won’t belabour the pity party I indulged in, suffice to say I got stuck in and caught up during October and did a fair amount of research and preparation to begin the umpteenth rewrite of my first YA novel, “Castle Quest” book 1. I was hanging to start, could not wait for the freedom of November. I had managed to get myself sorted to be able to nano without too much in the way of distractions.
Or so I thought.
Our business has an accreditation that requires an audit every 2 years, but it isn’t due until February, so it wasn’t likely to interfere with nano. Right? Wrong. The auditor paid us a nice little introductory visit to say hi and have a quick look at where we are at. And proceeded to tear my little complacent world down around my ears. Suddenly I had a work load that I couldn’t jump over and the audit was booked for the 18th of December not in February as I’d expected. So instead of having a month cleared for writing, I now had a six week to write policies and procedures and implement a million additional processes to our accreditation model. To say I wasn’t happy was a bit of an understatement.
Stubborn thing that I am, I thought I could still write. After all, I write early in the morning, so I’d write creatively in the early morning, and write business policies after that.
Now this is where things started going awry. I have a bit of trouble jumping from one to the other. So when I had time to write, I found myself thinking about the “verification of on board air scales for individual axle groupings”. When I was supposed to be writing the procedure for fault reporting and subsequent closing out of the fault, I was imagining walking along the Scottish coast, high on the sloping cliff tops, with the water oozing from the earth with each step.
It has been an enlightening time. I’ve learned a great deal about myself. One of these is that I can write rather good business documents, the second and most important is that I struggle to stay in the “stream of consciousness” that I need to be in to write. When I am constantly pulled out of my story I find it really hard to remember what was happening prior to the interruption. That’s ok, I can reread the previous scene and get back up to speed. Well most of the time I can. But as I became more stressed I found it progressively harder to find my characters motivation for their actions. So I’d read back over something and feel as if it was written in a foreign language and that it had little to nothing to do with me.
It is a hard thing to explain, but to lose that fragile gossamer thread can be soul destroying for me. I need to keep momentum up when I write a first draft, that’s why I nano. Not for a 50K word count, but for the motivation and momentum. To keep myself heading down the same path as my characters and to keep everyone heading in the same direction. That’s why, when I am pulled away and distracted, I come back wondering who is who and why they are doing what they are doing.
And so NaNoWriMo is finished. It’s the first day of December, I have made the 50K, some of which needs a major fix up, but I made it. The story is not done, the first draft isn’t even finished, but thank heavens Nano is.
So did you attempt NaNoWriMo? Do you like or loathe the 50K in 30 days concept? Did you win? Is it worth it? I know for me, the time set to get the first draft done is as important as a motivator as it is a generator of the actual words, but when life has it’s way, NaNoWriMo, can be totally ugly. Will I do it again? Yep, I think I probably will.