Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Saturday, November 29, 2014

NaNoWriMo and My Heart's Desire . . .

These last few days have been crowded with family and friends, a new baby just three weeks old, and so much to be very thankful for. 

Writers face a special challenge in November IF we take on the commitment to write 1,667 words a day for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). The overall goal? 50,000 words by the end of November.

For as long as I can remember, I've wanted to write stories. This challenge, this commitment to NaNoWriMo this year, despite all else, has brought 46,814 new words to my current writing project with two days left before the end of the month. (Thank goodness for automatic word counts, for I'm not counting them myself!).

Can I write nearly 3,000 words in these last two days? Maybe, but this is the closest I've ever come to meeting that 50,000 word goal. 

On December 1, the real fun will begin. I'll start moving blocks of text and scenes into five different sections that make up the structure of Rivers of Stone. And I will have met my personal challenge to write "to my heart's desire."

15th Century tapestries: "The Lady and the Unicorn"
"To My Heart's Desire"
Cluny Museum, Paris (Camp 2004)
Writers may wonder what I gained from participating in NaNoWriMo, and, perhaps more importantly, how I achieved this goal. 

First:  What would a writer gain from this kind of writing streak?

Immersion writing for an entire month brought me closer to the story. My characters are staying with me in a deeper way, wedging into my subconscious, bringing new insights into who they really are, what they do and why.

Generating so many words has freed me up to 'kill the darlings,' cutting those scenes I might like but that don't advance the story. 

Practically, though, how on earth did I actually write this many words each day (when my usual output is 250 words a day)? What advice would I give to someone else wishing to NaNo?

1. Make a commitment. Believe in yourself. Sounds funny to say this, but start the month with a commitment to get those words on paper.
2. Tell your family and friends so they'll maybe understand your craziness (the house and all else will suffer).
3. Write 'to your heart's desire.'

I write very early and have a chunk of time of two to three hours before the rest of the family wakes. That is gold. This time, I learned to sprint, seizing those 20 minute intervals at odd moments  to just capture the story, sometimes with Twitter sprints, sometimes on my own.

Know that you will get stuck. Fine. Accept this as part of the writing process. Go for a walk, read some research. Do an info search on the internet. Talk to a writing buddy. All may help you get back into your story. But know that moment will come when you simply plop down in front of your computer, mug of coffee nearby, and you will write.

May you write to your heart's desire!