National Novel Writing Month occurs annually in November, giving writers a goal to write at least 50,000 words, or to meet another number of their choice. I first heard about it sometime after November of 2012, and by October of the next year, I was ready to go.
At the time I had a full schedule, with English 11, Math 1060, Biology 1010, and three other classes. I would wake up at 5:30 or 6:00 every morning, be out the door no later than 7:00 or 7:30 (depending on TR and MWF), and get home at 5 or 6pm. I’d then have anywhere from fifteen minutes to two hours of homework.
The daily writing quota was approximately 1,666 words, which I did not always meet. I had come up with my entire plot just in the week before November 1, and though I was eager to write it, sitting down at the computer didn’t always work for me. Writing was a struggle at first. While procrastinating by looking around nanowrimo.org and checking different emails on various servers, I found a Utah Wrimo chat room. In this chat room were people to talk to, an amusing robot who would respond to certain commands, and an option for starting a series of timed wars, which they call wordwars. Read that again. It says word wars, not world wars. I made the same mistake.
With everything that chat room had to waste time, I did waste it. But eventually someone would start a series of wordwars, often in increments of ten, and I found myself very motivated to go write as fast as I could and come back with a number of words a few minutes later. I didn’t always win against the other Wrimos, but thanks to that, I won NaNoWriMo. I found I could sit down and write a thousand words in an hour, if not more.
On November 12, I reached 43,571. I was cruising far above my friends, and although almost all if not all of them had done NaNo before, I was the only one to win. On November 12, though, I had high expectations. I was thrilled to think that I could just keep up the normal daily quota and I would reach 50,000 words on November 15, halfway through the month. But after that day, I hit my low spot.
I struggled with my story for a few days. For the first time that month, I didn’t have hours to sit down after school. I wasn’t willing to throw away my precious hours of sleep to stay up all night, distracted and trying to write. My word count didn’t move at all until the 15th. Finally I had time to write that day, but not time for the 6,439 words it would take me to hit the goal exactly halfway through the month. I wrote no more than 1,700 words that day.
Either way, I was close enough to winning my first NaNoWriMo that it didn’t bug me.
I wrote the remaining six thousand words the very must day (the 16th must have been a Saturday). It was thrilling, to reach that 50,069 words! But I wasn’t sure I was even halfway through the book yet.
Of course, I didn’t write much more than three thousand words in the next week after that. The plot was troubling me, I probably had homework, and my chore was probably to clean the kitchen that week.
I wrote another three thousand words between the 24th and the 29th. That took me to 60,325. I was amazed to have written so much in a month! Even if it wasn’t the 100,000 words I had envisioned myself getting two weeks before.
Of course, I wrote six thousand more words the very next day. I took advantage of Thanksgiving break. On midnight of November 30, my novel had been validated with 66,009 words. That was almost double of what I had written in the entire year.
I didn’t count NaNoWriMo as done, though. The very name is National Novel Writing Month, after all. It may have been over a month at that point, but the title states to write a novel, and write a novel I would. Fortunately for me, the Utah Wrimo chat room was still open after November. It turns out it’s open year round, though I’ve since learned to write without it.
On December 6, 2013, I finished the first draft of my first novel, with a total of 78,122 words and 36 chapter, plus a prologue.
Thanks to a diligence of occasional free periods and hours holed up in my room at home, I completed my first novel!
This very same novel is To Be Queen, Book 1 of Sorcerers of Papridia. Parts of the plot have changed significantly since December 2013 (one month ago), I love it even more. I expect to have it published by May of this year.