I chose to do NaNoWriMo a bit differently this time around. I felt a little funny being a NaNo Rebel, after a few years of pumping out a full first draft in a month.
You see, NaNoWriMo started something a couple years back for writers who couldn’t quite wait a whole year to do it again. They created Camp NaNoWriMo, where you pick a month in the summer to do your writing. It differs from the November challenge in that you can set your word-count goal yourself, rather than the usual 50K word goal.
So last July I set myself a goal of 15K words to write a short story. I made my word count goal easily, but ran into a problem: It wasn’t a short story.
My narrator wasn’t content with a short “Tell, Don’t Show” approach to her story. She felt strongly that it was her life we were talking about and it deserved better. Who was I to argue?
Then I discovered something kind of weird. I missed the 50K goal of a normal NaNo. I didn’t feel the pressure to finish.
And so I didn’t.
Oh, I kept writing for a while, a few weeks into August. Then I sort of petered out. I went into Fall with an unfinished work behind me and no idea for a novel for November. After a few weeks of guilt – for not finishing my July project, for not being at all prepared to move on – I decided I had to be a Rebel in 2013.
So instead of starting a new novel and having a goal of 50K words, my goal was simple. Finish The Spell Builders. I told myself I had to follow the rule of “at least 1667 words a day” until I finished. I didn’t exactly succeed on that, but I never do. Some days I can only get out 800 words, other days I can crank out 3K. But overall, I called it a success.
I didn’t get the winner’s goodies, or that purple bar below my name on the NaNo website, but I achieved the goal I set for myself. I wrapped up the story in mid-November with 65457 words.
I’ve always looked at NaNoWriMo as a tool. I use the strong motivation of my peers on the forums, as well at that progress bar as the month goes on, to just get that first draft written. I set myself up for failure in July, but November saved me. The Spell Builders is a very different Daganu novel, and I love it even if I don’t know that my readers will. I wouldn’t be an author now without NaNoWriMo, and I’m very grateful it exists.