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National Novel Writing Month – Val Healy Part Two

Writing.ie | Resources | Developing Your Craft

Valerie Healy

As we start the 3rd writing week in NANWRIMO, I have a word count of 30,001.  I have built up a nice excess of words and I am completely on target, unless disaster strikes, to meet the 50K words by the end of November.

I have thrown myself completely into the whole project, I was never one to do things by half anyway, and buried myself into everything that the NaNo website has to offer me.  I joined my local region and have been reading all the various forum posts that are available.  There is lots of stuff to keep you motivated; from NaNo dares to treats to reward yourself with when you meet your daily word-count.  There are weekly meetings in Dublin City Centre too which I haven’t managed to get to yet but hope to, before the end of the month.  I have been reading with relish all the inspirational emails that are sent to your inbox every few days, all offering the weary writer advice on how to get that word count up and keep going.  Everyone participating is hugely encouraging to the new writer like me, sharing their past experiences and helping you to keep going.  I feel more than just a participant, I feel part of a community. Last week, I also made a donation of 10 US dollar and my profile picture is now crowned with a lovely shiny halo, part of my reward for making a donation.

I left you at the start of my journey and week one was good, I got out of bed religiously at 6.00am every morning and ended the week on a word count of 10,000 words, exactly where I should be.  I had written all my opening chapters and introduced the characters.  I felt good and still positive that I could get to the end. Then it came to Monday again and the start of Week two and I managed a dismal 1,000 words.  I closed my laptop and felt somewhat deflated and worried about what tomorrow would bring.  I really didn’t know what to write next or where to take my characters.  My novel is about human behaviour and how all of us are somewhat flawed and my main character is unaware of how her own behaviour affects the other characters in the book. I knew what I wanted to say but I couldn’t find the way to do it and my characters seemed flat and very dull.

I had listened to many authors and read many articles about how their characters had taken over their stories and led them on completely different journeys as they wrote.  I wandered around the kitchen, living room, the local shop but it was all silent.  My characters weren’t talking to me, the only voice in my head was the one I had previously put behind a locked door in week one, my inner critic.  It had escaped and was filling my head with thoughts of failure again.  Something had to be done or I would never cross the finish line.  Then I found an article on the NaNo website that offered writers some advice on how to get your word count up and if you got stuck to just move on to another scene or character.  Of course! That’s what I would do; I knew what I wanted to happen in the end so I moved onto Part 2 of the novel.

Last Wednesday, I started again with renewed enthusiasm having got my inner critic safely back behind that locked door.  What happened next completely took me by surprise as I wasn’t expecting it at all.  They all started telling me where they wanted to go, my characters were all talking to me finally. It wasn’t in the way I had first imagined; I wasn’t hearing new male or female voices in my head.  While I would be typing away, something completely random I had never thought of before for that character would just come to me.   They were all talking together, mind you, and I wished I had another pair of hands so I could get the words out faster.  I cried as the week went on as I wrote some of the sadder scenes and I laughed at one of my character’s conversation.  Even my minor characters which were going to be very much in the back-ground now had a voice and wanted to have their say.  I felt like I had finally arrived, or my characters had anyway and I was loving where we were going.

Now that my characters and I have finally met, I have decided that I want to achieve more than the 50,000 word count because that won’t be enough to finish my novel and I need to finish it fast.  My new goal now is to finish my 1st draft completely by the end of November, which would be a word count of about 75,000 words.  I know what I need to write now in the middle to get my characters to the end and I am really happy with how it is all falling into place.  I know everyone doesn’t have the same experience as me and it really does take determination to get out of your warm bed in the dark and cold at 6.00am, but this is working for me and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, in fact, I’m sprinting towards it and looking forward to the last two weeks to see what happens next. I know I will find plenty of inspiration from my fellow NANO participants and the NANO website to keep pushing me each day and help me over the finish line… Meet me on the other side of the tunnel in two weeks, to see if I have completed my goal…

About the author

(c) Valerie Healy, November 2011.

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