It’s a week into NaNo, and I’m feeling pretty good! I’m at 19,173 words, and, despite having a rough day today due to illness and general motivation, I’m pretty comfortable with where I’m at. I’m excited for the writing marathon tomorrow and am aiming to have at least 6,000 words by the end of the day. I’d love 10,000!
I’m truly surprised at what I’ve been learning through this process. I entered into it with the attitude that it would be an exercise for me, but it’s been much more than that already. I’m shocked at how supportive the noveling community is! I’m used to pretentious, condescending writers who love being better than you. I never felt comfortable in the film world, even though I love it more than anything. On set and in discussing screenwriting, I always felt pushed aside. The most fun I have when talking about movies is discussing them with fans and people not in the industry. I’ve only had a handful of people (if that) treat my scripts respectfully when giving me notes, and because of that it’s been really difficult to have confidence or faith in myself.
That is not the case here. Writing a novel is so freeing for me. I know what is coming out of me right now is crap, and that’s fine. I’m a huge fan of horrible first drafts (or draft .5 as I call it). I like to write it all out and revise it later to make a slightly less crappy first draft. The great thing is, everyone gets that! No one judges you for writing poorly. In fact, a lot of people admit to being bad writers and depending on revision to fix their problems. I love that. It’s comforting.
The length is something I’m loving as well. With scripts you have to be very concise and brief, but with a novel you can ramble and let the story take you places you didn’t expect. You can let it blossom as you write, and truly anything is possible. For example, today I had my first experience with letting my story and characters lead me in a completely different direction instead of going by my outline. Today I killed a man, and I think it saved my story. Shit was getting boring, and I’m fairly certain that when you’re writing a mystery thriller you definitely don’t want to ever think to yourself, this is boring. So I decided to do something unexpected and unstructured, and it was great! All of this will probably change once I start to revise, but the freedom I’ve been experiencing during NaNo is something I never felt with a screenplay before. I feel like I’m talking about men. Maybe it’s kind of the same thing.
As I mentioned before, I’m having no issues hitting my word count. Maybe it’s because I wrote a fairly detailed outline, or perhaps it’s me stretching my legs for the first time. Either way, my average is around 3,000 a day, which isn’t an enormous amount of words, but well above the minimum. I should finish ahead of schedule, and I’ll be able to jump into revising right away, which is good because half the reason I’m writing so much in one day is because what I’m writing is really really bad. I’m not spending any time on wording choices or intense character development. I’m forming the skeleton.
What I’ve been struggling with is, predictably, the style of writing. As I’ve said before, I mostly write scripts, blogs and articles. I hardly ever write fiction anymore, and it shows. I’m struggling with tense and POV like crazy, but for now I’m just letting it be a big huge messy ball of what-ever-the-fuck, and I’ll get it into the hands of someone who can help me refine those pesky grammar details later. I never did like grammar. I also need to learn how to loosen up! My descriptions and actions sound like laundry lists. I’ve gone so long being told I can’t use flourishy language or ramble on about setting that I no longer know how. I’m really trying to relax and just go for it, but it’s hard for me.
My biggest surprise after week one of NaNo is that I like writing novels so much more than anything I’ve ever done previously. I was nervous at first because novels are HUGE! Sure, a script can be 120+ pages, but the word counts are significantly less. I’d never tried anything quite so involved or complicated, but I was shocked to realize how comfortable I was doing it when I started. And I get more comfortable every day. I’ll never stop writing scripts — I love film and TV too much. But I think I’ll start taking this noveling thing a bit more seriously.