NaNoWriMo? NaNoWriNO! I did it once, and that was enough for me. No, I didn’t make the goal. No, I’m not pouting about it because I “failed.”
My one attempt was Camp NaNoWriMo this past April. I was in the early stages of writing To Love and To Cherish. Speed writing and cranking out a super crude first draft to be cleaned up once the whole thing is done is just not something I can force myself to do. I tried, I really did. If it had any effect at all it was to bring on a case of writer’s block.
I envy the people who can do this, but for me it was agonizing attempting it. The early parts of my novels are very slow going. I suppose this is because I fall closer to the “pantser” end of the planner-pantser scale. I know what my overarching romance arc will be, and (usually) know what the background story will be, too.
To Love and To Cherish, being relationship driven, was an exception. I had a plan for the romance arc (although that did end up changing), but the setup for that didn’t require the eventual drama to be sorted yet. I was a number of chapters into it before I had my lightbulb moment and the story came together, going in a completely different direction from the idea I’d previously been toying with. Thankfully the setup I already had in place not only fit with the new direction, it was the perfect reinforcement for it.
For me, the characters drive the story, and they develop of their own volition and can’t be forced. Especially in the early chapters I tend to reread what I’ve already written over and over again. I usually end up modifying things as I go, but overall the reason is so I can get into the characters and stay consistent with their personalities as the story progresses.
In the early chapters I’m thrilled if I end up with over five hundred new words in a day. Once the story is rolling, and the details start falling into place, my pace picks up. I strive for a thousand to fifteen hundred words per day for the second half. On top of this, I don’t necessarily write every day. Sometimes I’m just plain busy with other things, and other days I might be thinking about what’s going to happen next, and how I want the characters to handle it.
You’d think this would result in a pretty tidy “first draft.” With To Love and To Cherish I think it actually was reasonably clean. I certainly made a number of adjustments and tweaks based on the advice of critique partners and beta readers, but the changes weren’t too significant in the scheme of the overall storyline.
’Til Death Do Us Part, on the other hand…oh, man. That story underwent so many overhauls you probably wouldn’t recognize the first draft. You certainly wouldn’t recognize the first chapter! I’m going to blame that on the fact it was the first thing I’d written in about seven years, although I suppose I need to write another story or two to decide for sure which scenario will be more typical for me.
As with ’Til Death Do Us Part, To Love and To Cherish took me about six months to write. It will be released at JMS Books, LLC (and all the usual distributors) in ebook formats on November 12, 2016, and in trade paperback format on November 30, 2016.