Monday 7 January 2008

How Many Words?!

The February issue of Writers' News magazine arrived this weekend and I was interested to see that it included a short article about NaNoWriMo and its various spin-offs. Now, as we’ve already established, I tend to lag a little behind everyone else in all things technological or particularly 'online-centric'. (See? I even have to make up my own hyphenated words to compensate for my ignorance of the proper technical terms...) And this is why, despite first hearing about NaNoWriMo in November 2005, it was 2007 before I finally decided to throw my lot in with the other 100,000+ writers/madmen/masochists (delete as you consider applicable) around the globe and give the whole '50,000 words of a new novel in a single month' thing a try.

I'm not entirely certain what I was expecting. I think I just wanted to see if I was up to the challenge, while quietly acknowledging to myself that I probably wasn't, but even if I didn't make it through the whole 50k in time, every word written would be one more word than I'd had to my credit at the beginning of the month.

Why didn't I believe, deep in the secret recesses of my soul, that I would make it? Because I’m the type of writer who has to write a thing and then rewrite it. And then change things about a bit and do a little tweaking. And then sand it down, polish it, and finally give it a quick spritz of finishing spray, before I can at last move on without discomfort. (If you bear in mind that I'm not just talking about chapters here, I'm talking about paragraphs, and even, far more frequently than can actually be healthy, mere sentences, then you can doubtless understand why I foresaw a number of problems.) Much to my surprise, however, rather than this borderline obsessive-compulsive behaviour putting an end to my NaNoWriMo efforts, as I had feared it might, the opposite happened. NaNoWriMo put an end (albeit probably only temporarily) to my compulsive editing-in-action and, despite a dodgy mid-November week or so when I fell alarmingly behind, I had my word count verified at 50,212 words on November 29th – hooray!

The novel itself was not completed – I am hoping to finish the first draft this month – but the challenge was. I had started November with just two particular characters in mind, a single scene that I knew would involve them both (along with some other - at the time unspecified - people), and a vague inkling that this might be a 'world in peril' sort of story. I finished the month with over 50,000 words of a completely new idea set down on the page, a proper plot to go with that idea, the experience of a whole new way of working, and a major feeling of achievement. And that seems now, just as it did then, a pretty good way to end any month.


Anne Brooke said...

That's hugely good!!! Well done, you!



Emma K-F said...

Thanks muchly, Anne - I highly recommend the whole experience! Now, if I can just get the novel finished... ;-)

Emma xx

Nik Perring said...

Yes well done. A very good way to end a month!


Emma K-F said...

Thanks, Nik! And here's to some equally good - if not even better - months for all of us this year, eh? :-)

Emma xx