Several years ago, a friend told me about NaNoWriMo. I wasn’t ready for the challenge. I almost joined last year. There was a story that kept resurfacing in my consciousness. Again, I didn’t feel I was ready to work on a novel. Never mind that I already had a full-time job.
I’m new to novels, but not to writing. I’ve worked with one state writers group for years and I’m serving as a Board member on two groups this year. Most of my writing is poetry at the University, business writing, or features writing for a local community organization.
A friend told me about an online novel course she was teaching this past February. I decided to take it and see what would happen with the novel. By mid-April, I’d written 9,500 words of the story. I averaged 250-500 words a day, writing in 15-30 minute sessions during lunch. Although it wasn’t much, I was happy that I’d started on the project.
The next week, a close friend had a health scare and the wind went out of my sails. I couldn’t write. The next month, while traveling in Western Maryland, another idea came to me. I sat down and filled four regular sheets of paper in a very short time. The muse was not a steady worker.
Then everything changed. In July, I had a heart attack. At 48 years old. Once home, I was off for two months before I returned to work. I had all this time but the creative spark wasn’t there. I sat at the computer and tried to write. There was nothing. Yet, I could write emails to friends and family to share updates about my recuperation. In one night, through several messages, I wrote 3500 words to one person. Why? I was upset about something.
It was ironic. I couldn’t create, but I could write my story. I posted this on the Classic Romance Revival loop. I asked my e-friends to explain this to me. I said it was like trying to ride and rein in a wild horse. They all agreed that I should write whatever wanted to come out.
In mid-October, I was walking in the neighborhood and my muse whispered a “what if” about a car that drove by. I was thrilled. My spark was starting to flicker. I noticed a couple sparks in the days to follow. My writer friends on Facebook started asking each other if they were doing NaNo this year. This time, I went to the website and checked it out. After an hour of reading, I made my decision. Why not?
Why not try NaNo? I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I signed up on October 23 and waited. The muse decided to start early. Two days early. I woke up with a story in my head. By 9:15 that morning, I’d written 1,800 words on a new story. I was ecstatic. I decided that nobody would fault me for the early start.
I found that I have “writer’s A.D.D.”, at least that’s what I’m calling it. The muse is sending me ideas faster than I can get them written. I decided not to worry about working on a single story. It was more important to keep writing. On November 15, the halfway point, I’d hit the halfway mark – 25,000 words before I’d retired for the night. I was amazed.
Last week, I needed to concentrate on a personal project and didn’t spend much time writing. I was playing catch-up this weekend. As I write this, my total word count has reached 30,470. My total for the day – 4,464. It’s all because my muse and I are taking this ride together. Thanks to her cooperation, I have eleven stories and one non-fiction piece. The non-fiction piece is a Heart journal, addressing all the problems and changes the heart attack brought to my life. The fact that I’ve written this much, and have daily totals like this, is astounding to me. It’s a personal best.
What am I writing? Most of it is Romance. Some are Christian, some are dramatic. I was writing on Sunday and got caught up in one of the stories. Our heroine rescues a young girl and a handsome man from a car wreck caused by a drive-by shooting on a highway. They’ve been taken to the hospital. While there, the heroine finds out that the cop that’s questioning her isn’t a real cop. She has to protect herself and the child. If I told you the rest of the story, I’d have to shoot you.
How has this helped me? Aside from realizing that I can produce, I’ve learned to squeeze time for writing into my day. I bring my laptop to work, arriving early enough to write and using my lunch break to add more words. I take breaks from writing, not coffee breaks. I’ve taken a 90-minute hike at a local park, a two hour horseback trail ride, and attended a day-long writer’s conference. I’ll celebrate the holiday and watch a friend get married. After NaNo, I’ll set up a monthly word count that’s a little easier to manage.
I’m on vacation all this week and I’ll catch up to the daily cumulative count. I will finish with 50,000 words before November 30. Why? Why Not!
My NaNo page: http://www.nanowrimo.org/eng/user/690256
I’ll be setting up a blog by the end of the year.
~~~ ~~~ ~~~
Thank you, Ann! Best of luck with the rest of November and your future ventures!