It’s hard to believe there has been a whole week of Nano already. On one hand it feels so early in the month, on the other it feels like only yesterday I was staring at a blank page wondering where I was going to start. Where did seven days go?
Already this year my NaNoWriMo journey has been like no other. For the first time I have chosen to write a fantasy novel. In the past I’ve written young adult stories, mainstream fiction, and I even once wrote a humorous story that was filled with references from other novels.
The other reason this novel is so different is the immense effort I have put into the research side of writing. In the past I have had to research what life was in the 1600s in a coastal village, or religious practices before Christmas became what it is today, but the amount of research I have done in the past week or so is incredible.
The research, I have discovered, is enormous, and it is quite easy to drown yourself in it if you aren’t careful. I have found myself looking up the usual things like the average marrying age of women in 1850s, the general theories and myths around elves and pixies, and what the social opinions on homosexuality were in the 1800s. Then the fiddly things like information about writing fantasy in general to different types of magical creatures and the mythology that goes with them. I can’t seem to go a day without looking up something else. The good news about that though is while it is severe procrastination after a point, it’s still story related which makes it more acceptable than watching TV or something. Right?
I have compiled a nice set of statistics that captures my first NaNo week and what my current writing situation is. Hopefully it isn’t too dissimilar than other people or I may have to worry.
Total words written: 12 150
Main character name changes: 3
Character deaths: 0
Character deaths I’m putting off: 1
Creatures created: 19
Internet windows currently open: 4
Internet tabs currently open: 125
Word documents currently open: 7
Plot issues discovered: 3
Plot issues solved: 1
So that’s my current stats list. All the plot issues and characters and internet tabs look less overwhelming when they are in a nice list. It’s quite nice.
I have learnt important things though this week After inundating myself with pages upon pages of information about magical creatures, and trying to make sure their inclusion in my story was as close to basic looks and behaviour as I could, I realised that I do not have to follow the rules. Thankfully sooner rather than later I have realised that this is my story and I can make my characters be anything I want them to be. If Eoin Colfer can make his pixies and elves technologically advanced and live underground, then I can tweak the behaviour, styles, and abilities of creatures as well. While I love the traditional aspects which I am drawing from, I have realised I need to stop worrying about how they are supposed to look and just write characters I have formed in my mind, personality and appearance included.
I mentioned Eoin Colfer, famous for the marvellous Artemis Fowl series, he is just one of my inspirations this month. So far I have drawn inspiration from Colfer, Terry Pratchett, as well as Holly Black, but there are a few snippets inspired by J.K. Rowling as well because she does tiny details so wonderfully well it’s hard not to take some tips when you can. I’m drawing ideas a lot from real life as well. I’m even drawing inspiration from ancient extinct creatures because those I’ve found fit perfectly in the world I am creating. I’m also using numerous languages like Latin and other world languages to contribute to creating names and species. I like this because I can create types of portmanteaus as well as give my characters names that have meanings like their personalities or physical feature. I am not doing this for everything though, partly because random names can be just as nice, and also because sometimes the languages fail me and I can’t create anything good from them with the meanings I want.
Aside from becoming invested and engaged with my story, there are a few other things that keep me writing each day. The NaNoWriMo website differs slightly every year and this year they have added to their selection of achievement badges. When certain tasks are completed you gain a badge, and I have to say wanting to achieve these badges is a key factor in my writing this week. Writing for five days straight, reaching the key 5k and 10k word counts are important ones. But there are also personal ones, whether you have consumed more caffeine than is probably wise, whether you have written in an odd or creative environment, there’s even one if you admit to being a procrastinator.
There are also great tips about getting the best from your novel and wonderful support. You may have heard some of these tips but I’ll share a few I keep telling myself:
- Back up your novel regularly
- As tempting as editing is, try and resist it unless absolutely crucial
- Don’t worry if you are falling behind the expected word count for the day, there is time to catch up
- Love what you are writing, if you want to change midway be brave and do it
- Waste some time exploring the NaNoWriMo forums, whether it is for inspiration, for advice, character names, games and procrastination, or ideas sharing it can be incredibly beneficial
- Some days you may write a lot, other days you may not write a lot. At least you are writing.
This is a long rambling post I know but it’s a small insight into my first week of NaNoWriMo that I felt like sharing. If I have given you any ideas or suggestions I’m glad I could help. These are just some of the things I am doing as well; I think choosing fantasy I’m approaching it way more differently than I do most stories so it is a different kind of experience for me. There are still 23 days remaining too where anything can happen and anything no doubt will so I’m enjoying it as much as possible so I have fond memories to look back on when in a few weeks time I’m up at 2am trying to catch up on word counts with way too much caffeine in my system.
I love hearing about other people’s experiences so feel free to let me know how your NaNo experience is going. Have you gotten any helpful hints from the forums, adopted a character trait or plot? Are you collecting badges? Do you also have 125 tabs open across 4 internet windows (I can’t be the only one).