I feel like I’ve been talking about NaNoWriMo all year – with doing writing challenges every other month to ‘train’ for the 50,000 word challenge in November. But it didn’t go quite as expected…
My intention was to write the final draft of the novel I started eight years ago in my first (and only ‘winning’) NaNo – but then I ended up using the story of my novel for my masters dissertation project and the thought of having anything to do with it so soon after handing in was too much for my little anxious brain to handle.
I decided very early on that I was going to write some fun fanfiction instead – I’ve been watching a lot of Harry Potter cosplay tiktok and I was super inspired to write something, so I took that inspiration and went with it.
The other barrier I faced was again my dissertation project – I got a one week extension due to my mental health so my deadline wasn’t until November 5th, thus meaning I couldn’t think about anything else until it was done (still SO PROUD that I did it!). I didn’t start writing until the 7th of November and I calculated that I only needed to write just over 2000 words a day to finish on time, as opposed to the usual 1667 words.
I started writing and as my days were significantly emptier without a big uni project, I managed to catch up relatively quickly. At my most productive, I wrote 4000 words in a day but I was feeling really good – I was writing about characters I already knew and loved without the pressure of writing something good, original and ‘final’ in my own novel project.
I enjoyed writing again! With my fiancé still being away with work 3-5 nights a week (despite a national lockdown, because watching a bunch of grown men play rugby is so important…), I could really focus on writing and I got into a good routine. Not a healthy routine, as most of my writing was done between 10pm-1am from the comfort of my bed, but I was writing and that was the important bit.
In the last week or so, momentum tailed off – I don’t think I’d really given myself the time to mentally recover from my dissertation hand in but I’d been preparing for NaNoWriMo all year and I really wanted to do it. Thousands of words a day turned to hundreds of words a day and staring at a screen for hours whilst I felt like my original characters were sticking their tongues out at me.
In the end, I made it so-close-but-not-close-enough at just over 47,000 words between the 7th and 30th of November. If I’d even written a few words in the days I was finishing my dissertation, I’m sure I would have been able to do it, but we can’t change the past, we can only learn! And I still wrote forty seven thousand bloody words!
NaNoWriMo this year was a real experience for everyone participating – it was unusual circumstances, motivation and inspiration are running at an all time low and though in theory people have ‘more time’ because we’re staying home more, it doesn’t mean there was enough mental brain space to really write like life is normal.
I do feel more motivated than ever to really ‘win’ next year – I’ve got my monthly training challenges all planned out, I’ll probably stick with writing fanfiction because it’s fun to experiment and control characters I love (though that makes it sound much more sinister than it is) and NaNoWrimo 2021 is going to be my year – my first win since 2012!
Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!