How do you write 50,000 words in a month? You sit down at your computer and you begin with ten minutes on the clock. And then, you write.
At least, that's how it was for me this NaNoWriMo. In case you missed some of my previous NaNoWriMo posts NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It occurs each November and is hosted by a non-profit organization that challenges writers across the globe to write 50,000 words of their novel in just one month. The organization themselves hosts write-ins (where writers come together to write at the same time) and people across the globe volunteer their time to be "municipal liaisons" for different regions. These people also host write-ins and other events which challenge the writers in regions to get to know one another while coming together to write.
This month, I started The Beauty which is the second book of the Once Upon a Tome series. The book is a twist on, you guessed it, Beauty and the Beast. The Beauty follows two timelines (just like The Criminal). In the present, we follow Annabelle Aimé, a young adult with undiagnosed chronic regional pain syndrome and asthma. She has never been out of her town before because of her medical conditions but when her father goes missing, she takes the challenge to go after him and doesn't regret it. In the past, a woman with a deadly curse she can't seem to rid herself of is followed through town after town, victims left in her wake. What will happen next and can she ever undo the pain she's caused?
I mentioned in my most recent NaNo post that this NaNo was the first time I have ever started on day one with a blank slate. This was my third NaNoWriMo win but in previous years, I have begun with multiple thousands of words before November began. In November of 2018, I began with over 40,000 words and quickly passed the 50,000-word mark. I did write over 50,000 words within the month (I ended with over 90,000 words) but I had started the novel before reaching the starting line.
This was a very different experience for me and it was a lot harder than I expected. Starting the novel required a lot of effort in part because I had to leave the characters I knew behind and start anew. The process of starting not only an entirely new book but a sequel was incredibly difficult and left me struggling to stay afloat the first couple of days of November especially as I dealt with jetlag and medical issues. I had flown across the country on October 30th arrived in Cincinnati at 2am on November 1st, and woken up at 7am November 1st to begin medical treatment. To say I was tired the first week or so of NaNo would be a huge understatement. That first day I got 156 words done and the first week I got a total of 8,295 words done (I should have been at 11,669).
After that first few days, I began to pick up a faster and more steady pace of about 1,500 words a day. I enjoyed writing in sprints of about 10 minutes. If you don't know what writing sprints are, essentially, the idea of writing sprints is to set a timer, pull up your document, and then write for the entire time you set the timer for. No correcting. No researching. No nothing. Researching, correcting, and other touches are for the editing or other times but during sprints you just let your fingers fly. When I do 10minute sprints, I can usually get about 450-500 words done in ten minutes. If I do not do sprints or do a different amount of time, I find that the word count per minute shifts downward. Without sprints, it can take me 30-45 minutes to write the same 500 words.
Around halfway through November, I realized I was well behind where I needed to be to finish on time. While I had kept a consistent pace for most of the month, I was not at my goal. I increased the pace and began writing more like 2,000-2,500 words a day. From the 21st of November to the 25th, I was within a few hundred words of the NaNoWriMo plotted goal (if not on the dot, above or slighty below).
Unfortunately, black Friday did not yield a high word count. I shopped all morning and worked all afternoon. When I got home, I had the energy to write less than 200 words only to make sure I was able to update my word count every single day. The following day, I was busy decorating, working on an important homework assignment, and wrapping. I got almost 600 words but still missed the bar. By the 28th, I had 8,000 words to go and 3 days to write them in. It was a final push to get it all done but I did it.
I finished with 50,191 words. I plan my books out in plot points (short paragraphs describing the general scene/s that will happen) as opposed to chapters but I do like to estimate how many chapters I think a plot point will take. Of 53 estimated chapters I have completed 25 and have four that I have begun (that are incomplete). These make up 14 completed plot points and five incomplete plot points (of 32).
That means I am about halfway through my twisted tale of Beauty and the Beast. I am incredibly excited to keep working away on it throughout this year and hope to have it finished by the end of December so that I can begin work on editing next year (after a break). Have a look at my color-coded representation of my daily word counts below. Each box represents roughly a hundred words.
Let me know: how did you do in this year's NaNoWriMo. What tools worked to keep you motivated? How do you plan to keep working towards the completion of your novel?