About NaNoWriMo 2019
Posted: November 20, 2019
Event Dates: November 1, 2019 to November 30, 2019
For the fourth year, I joined the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) last November. I was looking forward to it, hoping it would encourage me to dedicate more time to writing. It worked in the past and I'm glad to say, it worked in 2019 as well.
I decided to do a complete re-write/review of The Stranger of Ul Darak, which was also what I did during NaNoWriMo 2017. Although I made significant progress in 2017, the story was not where I wanted it to be. During the two following years, I regularly came back to Stranger, adding some background information, extra scenes, even new characters, but I was not able to complete a full revision (beginning to end) during that period. Stranger has been in development for over 15 years and my goal is to finish writing it by 2020. So, it was a logical choice for NaNoWriMo 2019.
The month started well and I reached 24,000 words (of the 50,000 target) by November 13. Then, my wife and I traveled to Boston to see Elton John (what an awesome show that was!) and I had to put writing on hold for a few days. When I returned home, I took a moment to go over what I had done so far, and by chance, found a stack of notes about Stranger that I had overlooked. The repercussions of this discovery were major, in the sense that to include some of the new details, I would need to start over. I debated this for a full day, unsure if I wanted to soldier on and meet the NaNoWriMo target, or go back, and add these details to the story right away.
I decided to start over.
I chose to do this because I had already achieved my goal of prioritizing writing and knew that if I did not go back to the beginning, I would need to do another complete revision later (and may not find the time). Once started, I had also made up my mind that this revision would be the last one for this version before sending the story to my alpha reader. To achieve this, I needed to include what I found in the notes, even if it put my target for NaNoWriMo in jeopardy.
Later in the month, I traveled to Ottawa for work and my flight was delayed by several hours. I took this opportunity to write. I did the same in the hotel room, and on the way back. Over these few days, I re-wrote the initial 24,000 words, which kept my word count at a standstill (see graph below). I thought this second pass would go faster than the first, but it did not. On top of the new details, I polished the text even more. Even though this was challenging, I am happy with the result because the story is much stronger, the text much cleaner, and all the new details are part of the story. In the last 5 days of the month, I continued to work on the story at home and on November 30, I was over 41,000 words again. My wife sat on the couch, watching TV, encouraging me to take all the time I needed to meet the target.
And I did: 50,092 words!
What a month this was. Incredibly productive (I went over 74,000 words total) and a great learning experience. I had to make difficult decisions and I'm proud that I did not give up even though I felt like doing so several times. I'm glad I could achieve both, but realized that the story should always come first.
At the time when I'm writing this, I have made more progress on Stranger, and kept the 2-pass approach. I'll continue with this approach until the end. This is an extremely challenging story to write and just a few days ago, another detail popped up, and I had to go back to the beginning of the story to make sure everything worked. I think, though, that it will all be worth it. It is a challenging story, but I also think it will be one of my best.
Related: About NaNoWriMo 2018, About NaNoWriMo 2017