Eight months on from NaNoWriMo, and I’m proud to report I wrote every day, and I completed a novel. An un-edited, first-draft mess of a novel, but I did it. More of that later…
At the time, I stated my main intention was to establish a daily writing habit. Habit being: a settled or regular tendency to practise, especially one that is hard to give up. I found daily writing hard, and that I did it best in the mornings. If I left it until later in the day, then there was a risk it wouldn’t happen. That pattern hasn’t changed and I confess I haven’t quite fixed daily writing as a habit. Life (and my brilliant ability at procrastination) sometimes gets in the way. But the best part about this definition is the last bit: hard to give up.
That’s certainly true. If I write nothing for a day, I miss it. Two days and I’m positively edgy; any longer and I feel like I’ll burst if I don’t write something. (Although, irritatingly, the longer I leave it the harder it is to get started again!) I can only return myself to a state nearing physical and mental comfort by writing. NaNoWriMo finally freed me me to write anywhere – on trains, in public places, in front of my family – and allowed me to understand I didn’t need a dedicated space with a special chair and my favourite pen. (That would be still be very nice though, if any of my family are reading this…) I completed NaNoWriMo entirely on my laptop, but have since returned to the pleasure of a smooth-rolling pen, or pencil, and my favourite lined notebooks, for first drafts, at least.
I’d promised myself I wouldn’t re-read my efforts for several months. After all, I’ve never written anything longer than a 5000 word story or 45 minute radio drama in the past. I couldn’t quite leave my NaNo characters alone, however and wrote a few short stories playing around with their lives prior to when my ‘novel’ started. Finally, I printed out my mountain of words and read them in three sessions. Mostly, I cringed at the awful writing and the telling not showing, but I also remembered things I’d forgotten, and loved being back with these people in my mind. I made some notes on the sheets, but realised the need for better structure, always a weakness in my writing.
I read KM Weiland’s unlikely-sounding 5 Secrets of Story Structure – it’s great! I have now worked out a much stronger arc to my novel, and re-ordered some of the events and thought more about themes. It was as if I had to write it first, to see what it was going to be about, and now I know that, I can write it properly. So the rewriting proper will start in the Autumn, and in the meantime I’ll try to fix that daily writing habit good and proper!