This week has begun my maiden NaNoWriMo is a challenge: write a novel, consisting of at least 50,000 words, in 30 days. If you complete the challenge, you win...pride.
I've never written a novel. I've never written one piece that amounts to 50,000 words. It's pretty hard. But it's not the approximately 1,667 words I'll need to write per day, or the time I'll have to carve out of the day in order to write those words intelligibly, that make it so hard. It's that I have no story.
Now that I've written a few thousand words, I'm starting to have a story. But I made the mistake of not really sketching out my characters or outlining my plot before the month began, so I've started basically from scratch. Of course, there were ideas that had been floating around in my head for a while, but these were not full-fledged ideas--more like little kernels of ideas.
From elementary school, all the way through grad school, this is pretty much how I've always written. Take blank piece of paper (or blank screen), and a little piece of an idea, and start writing. When there was research involved, I usually did myself the favor of starting with a thesis and getting my research into some organized format, but even then, my general approach was still to just start writing.
What I'm driving at here is that I'm not sure I would have been able to create an outline or character sketches without beginning some full-fledged writing--and I'm afraid that wouldn't have upheld the spirit of the Nanowrimo rules.
Over the past of the week, I've found that I can only truly expect myself to write a few hundred words--maybe a thousand--per workday. But the weekends are where I make up for lost words. Yesterday I wrote over 4,000 words. If I can match that today, I'll be right around the 12,000 words I need to reach 50,000 by the end of the month.
Moreover, I'm finding that the more I write, the more I write. All week long, I struggled to write more than five hundred words a day. This weekend, I'm sitting down and knocking out 500 words in one brief sitting. The characters are starting to come alive, and I'm having to rely less on will power to tell their stories. I wrote a post last month, when I signed up for NaNoWriMo, called "To Write, Write". I'm beginning to feel that this is really the point of the NaNo project. I've always thought it would be fun, interesting, challenging, and rewarding to write a novel. I've also always thought that I would never have the time, inclination, or even a story good enough to write a novel. NaNoWriMo changed that for me.
It's early days. At time of writing, I'm not even 20% to my goal. But I've written enough now, that the novel is starting to truly unfold. For a long time, I've felt like a writer; but now, for the first time in my life, I feel like an author.