This is the very first guest post which I am posting on this blog, and I am honoured that one of my longest and bestest friends is the first to be featured in this series! So, without further ado, here are Nina’s thoughts regarding this year’s NaNoWriMo and her experiences with it!
NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is always an exercise I look forward to. Write a 50,000 word novel in the month of November. Featured heavily in this venture are: caffeine, insomnia, camaraderie, self-doubt, and whining. Challenge, accepted.
Approximately one week into this venture, it never fails that I question my sanity for doing this. Luckily, I’m stubborn. I have done NaNoWriMo successfully several times, but this year was different for two reasons.
- I didn’t write a plot outline before starting.
- I decided to write my heart’s novel.
Want to take an already arduous, not quite sane task, and turn it into an even more difficult undertaking? Find the pieces inside you that are tender to the touch, dig them out, and put them on paper. Now add a deadline.
I knew it was going to be hard. I knew I was setting myself up for failure. I’ve been trying to get these words out of my head for years and years and have never succeeded beyond a few paragraphs.
But you know what?
I did it.
It was hard. It was scary. It was emotionally exhausting. It hurt like hell.
I had to take a week off in the middle because I needed some breathing space from it, at which point I was positive I wouldn’t finish.
I learned a lot in the process of writing this year’s novel.
First and foremost, that any words are better than no words. I chose subject matter that I’ve never felt that I’ve been able to get quite right on paper. I still don’t think I’ve gotten it right, but at least now I have something to work with. A first draft never comes out perfect, it’s meant to be disjointed and confused and full of holes. To put it bluntly, it’s meant to be shit. But if you reach the end and you feel like you have a big, huge, jumbled, awful mess that just maybe, you might be able to polish into something worthwhile, then you, my friend, have written a successful first draft.
I also learned that writing the things that hurt you help the hurt heal, little by little, piece by piece. Did you cry while you were writing? Good. Did your heart hurt? Good. Did you question whether or not you’d make it through with your emotional health intact? Good. That’s where the good writing comes from.
I learned that I am made of stronger stuff than I thought. Writing this novel scared me, I can’t stress it enough. I wasn’t sure if it was wise to go poking my clumsy thumbs into the parts of me that are only half healed. I thought maybe it was better to leave well enough alone, and that’s why it’s taken me this long to write this damn novel. I would only work on it when I was already in such shambles that it didn’t matter if I poured a little salt in the wounds. The thing is, those part of me were only half healed, and they weren’t getting any better by just being left alone. I realized that I had more to gain than I had to lose.
It turned out that NaNoWriMo was just the push I needed to finish this novel, and now I have it down on paper. It is easily the best – and the worst – first draft I have ever written.
But you know what? It’s also the first first draft I’ve ever written that I’ve actually thought might be worth editing. So in short, my friends, find the things that scare you, the things you don’t want to put on paper because you think you might bleed a little, and write those.
I promise you won’t regret it.
Nina is an aspiring novelist who is really good at starting ideas but not so great at finishing them. She is owned by two cats and is the “auntie” to several horses. She has been an avid reader and writer since grade school, but has always lacked the follow through to publish anything. She reads and writes contemporary fiction, high fantasy, and poetry. You can find her on Twitter at @ninyanovelist