Last week I did something a bit crazy. I had a week off. And it’s NaNoWriMo, so I decided to catch up. I did my very best to try and write 50k words in a week (7 days), and I did it – or well kind of. I managed 43,900 in 6 days, which is when I decided that draft 1 was finished.
If you want to read more about the process and everything before hand, you can find that here. This post will serve kind of has a conclusion, I suppose – summarizing how it felt, how it went, and what I learned.
I’ll give you some short practical background: I had the entire week off and I don’t have any kids. I literally did nothing but write, eat, and go to the gym in the evenings. I even slept in late almost every morning, because I’m a fucking slob. Also, I got quite ill toward the weekend, but even then, I managed. (This is not supposed to show how great I am – more how surprisingly well this went).
How it went: I’m a pantser, not a plotter, which means I just sit down and write. I feel like it made this kind of easy to me. I think my “outline” (if I can even call it that), was 150 words or something. Just some very basic ideas about what the story was about, but before I started I didn’t have a single character name, hardly any idea what was going to happen, and no clue how it would end. The majority of my outline was where the plot happened and the role of my protagonist.
To make 50k in a week I had to do 7142 words minimum every day. I started the first day off with doing more than, and I managed to maintain the extra words until the sixth day (when I was 10k words short, instead of 14k). I ended up only writing about 3,5k on the sixth day, which is when I realized that the book was done. Or at least the first draft was.
It was surprisingly easy to write 7-8k words a day (remember, I had nothing else to do). To be honest, I didn’t think I’d be able to make it, I thought I’d be stuck, become unfocused (which I was at times), but most of all I expected myself to quit.
But I didn’t. As soon as I learned to just let go of my thoughts and write, it went super fast. That was the only thing really slowing me down – thinking. I noticed as soon as I started to think about what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it, I came to an abrupt halt. When I didn’t think of it, I could do 1500-1800 words an hour.
On top of all of that, I was also surprised at how well the story came out. I actually really like it, I think it’s clever, unique, something I might actually put out there at some point. It’s just a first draft, of course, but it’s a very strong foundation for a story. That surprised me a lot, I was very afraid it would be useless garbage that wouldn’t make sense, but each day it kept getting better and better.
This was all an experiment, to begin with. I’ve never done NaNoWriMo properly, and I asked around on Twitter why people did it (personally I don’t see the appeal because it takes time away from my regular writing). But people said they liked the challenge, so that’s what I did – made it a real challenge.
Even though I didn’t make 50k, I’d say I succeeded. Now, am I going to write future novels in a week? Or should you? I don’t think I’d recommend it, unless you’re already a full-time writer, and have the opportunity to sit and write ALL day (which is awesome by the way, I loved being at home writing).
But it’s very exhausting. As I neared the weekend I looked forward to getting it done, but then again, maybe if I did this all the time, every week, I’d treat it differently.
One thing that I’m happy I learned though, was to draft faster. That ability to just let go of your thoughts and make words appear is amazing – and it’s not as bad as you think! I feel like I’ve come away with a very useful skill in that sense, so maybe you should try it, just to see if it can help you in a similar way? Not that there’s a need to write super fast, but it’s more the ability to free myself, to stop hindering myself that appeals to me.