Time to Let the Plot Bunnies Out of the Hutch.

Posted on 22nd October, 2014

Here we are again in October. The internet is awash with autumn blogs and NaNoWriMo writers all over the world are getting ready for the annual madness.


This will be my fourth November Nano. I've also done three Camps, but for me the November event is the real thing, probably because that target of 50,000 words isn't negotiable, whereas in Camp, you can set your own target.


50,000 words in a month – it's a considerable undertaking. I remember, at the end of October 2011, agonising over whether to take part. Could I really make that commitment alongside everything else I had to do? I thought about it for a whole weekend, then signed up – and immediately panicked. What had I let myself in for?


On November 1st, I spent the day at work, then came home and wrote 1,200 words, which on any other day I would have been delighted with; but in NaNo terms, the average you need to write each day is 1,667, so there I was with my 1,200 and it wasn't enough.


That pretty well summed up the Nano experience for me. Some people surge ahead; the age group that is the most successful is the over 55s – the retired. As for me, I worked hard; I wrote every day; the days I wasn't at work, I tried to do at least 2,000 words – and usually succeeded.


The day I specially remember was the day I wrote a particular scene. The writing swam along and finishing the scene felt like a real achievement. Even though it was “only” 1,000 words, I remember the satisfaction I felt.


Did I hit the 50,000 target? No, I didn't. I fell into the editing trap. The one thing they warn you against again and again in NaNo is Don't Stop. Don't look back; don't think about what you've written. Just slap it down on paper. The editing comes later.


I wrote 32,000 words. Plenty of writers wrote twice that amount. But I was pleased with myself. I had written every day for a month. I had worked hard and my average word count was over 1,000 a day, which in the context of writing alongside going out to work felt rather splendid.


The following November, I used NaNo to do the edit/rewrite of a finished first draft and I stormed through the month to a glorious 55,000 words. But you know what? It felt like cheating. I am proud of my 32,000, but I don't feel like about about my 55,000.


Having said that, there's nothing wrong with using NaNo to work on a rewrite. In fact, any writing counts towards your goal, so my November blogs will be contributing to the word count. But I'll be working on something new, because that's the way NaNo works for me.



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Comments (3)

I've never done NaNo - I agree with you that it would take any pleasure out of less words that had more quality.
Good luck from me too! I've never tried NaNo (too scared!). 32,000 words in a month sounds like a brilliant achievement. I do like the idea of having a driving force to spur me on, so I must pick up the gauntlet one year!
I enjoyed hearing about how NaNoWriMo works for you. Wishing you much luck with the 'plot bunnies' (love that!) this year. I'll be cheering you on! xx