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NaNoWriMo Day #1: Has it always been this difficult?

Day 1 Wordcount: 1,681

Day 1 Morale: Discouraged and excited all at the same time

After a tough night of writing, I felt discouraged.  I finally got the kids in bed, got a fire going in the fireplace and sat down to write. I promptly spent 90 minutes checking the results of our local elections, tracking the location of the incoming snowstorm, and doing everything I could to avoid starting this novel.

I made the word count (whew!) – not my planned 2,000, but at least I tipped the scales slightly above my NaNo prescibed 1,667.  During NaNo 2009, I could dash off 1,800 in 45 minutes, but tonight it took me well over two hours.  I’ve been wracking my brain to determine why the mental blocks went up tonight, and why my internal editor was tramping around in my head all day begging me to abandon this journey before it even began.

The reason, at least as far as I can figure, is that I love this year’s story with every ounce of my being.  I love the characters and the plotlines that have tumbled around in my head for seven years.  My first NaNo novel (the one that lies quietly jilted on my hard drive), was fascinating, but the idea was conceived in a bandwagon moment after I finished reading the Twilight series.  No, it wasn’t vampires, but it was young, beautiful characters who were on the brink of a paranormal crisis.  It was fantastical, it was easy and it was…well, lame. (For all you Twilighters out there, don’t get your undies in a bunch. I am in no way implying that Stephenie Meyer’s books are lame.  I’m stating that my attempt at creating a paranormal coming-of-age scenario just wasn’t the right fit for me.)

My current story is so different from NaNo’09. It is emotional and complex.  The characters are real – not the swooning MTV Teen Choice Awards characters that dappled the last NaNo manuscript.  The situations are funny and heartbreaking (oftentimes in the same breath).  My greatest fear is not doing them justice on the page.  Just as dogs can sense fear, so can Internal Editor Barbie, and boy did she do a number on my psyche today.  After two years of sold non-fiction work, my fiction chops are stiff.  I need to work out the kinks.

Here’s the good news: I powered through, and got the words down on the page.  I made some major discoveries along the way.  In spite of my careful planning I still had those unanswered questions that can only work themselves out in drafts.  Within the first 30 minutes I had solved the burning question of my MC’s career goals.  I discovered that my description has come a long way since the last novel.  Dialogue is typically my comfort zone in drafting fiction, but tonight, the dialogue was tight and the descriptive passages led to a few pretty remarkable images.  Themes and symbols that I didn’t even know would be part of this story began surfacing left and right.  And as I always say, even during the hardest writing session, these tiny gems of promise are what keep me coming back for more.

Am I scared that tomorrow’s session will be as tough as today’s?  Absolutely. But tonight I typed through the fear and somehow emerged at the other end. Things happened in the scenes that I could never have predicted. A character took on a personality that I hadn’t imagined.  Standing on the other side of fear is much better than being too scared to give something a try.  I may not always feel talented or creative at the end of a writing session, but at least I feel brave.  And when it comes to greater life lessons, brave means a lot more to me than creative.  This is why I love NaNoWriMo.  Happy writing!

How about all of you? How did your first day of NaNoWriMo go?

21 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m doing this month rebel style…I got to 3400ish words today and feel pretty good about what I have.

    November 2, 2011
    • Good for you, Emmie. Send some of your wordcount mojo out West tomorrow. I’ll need it. Although, I think now that I’m over the dreaded first-day hump tomorrow will be smoother sailing.

      November 2, 2011
  2. I hear you. When I am writing and my heart’s not in it, I tend to stare at the ceiling as I type, truly petulant. Day one I scraped through to my goal – just. 2001. Roll on day two!
    Keep at it! Good luck!

    November 2, 2011
  3. I managed about 2500 over the course of yesterday and filled out my quota before lectures this morning. I’m doing my best to throw in any detail that occurs to me in case it turns out to be useful. Things turning out differently in the writing to the plans is definitely one of the better sides of writing.

    November 2, 2011
    • Kudos to you for cranking it out before lectures. Maybe Inconsistently Awake is a good thing – let you sneak in some moments of writing when the rest of us are sleeping. Are maybe sneak in some moments of much-needed sleep when the rest of us are writing. I hope today goes as well as yesterday.

      November 2, 2011
  4. I’m glad you reached your target! I reached my goal, just, and it felt really good! I’m hoping my first NaNo is a successful one – it certainly is enjoyable to say the least!

    November 2, 2011
  5. “Standing on the other side of fear….” I am beginning my own journey of written therapy, and your philosophy is a true inspiration. I wish you words upon words upon words….thank you. Love your blog!

    November 2, 2011
  6. Like you, I started out the slowest I ever have during NaNo. Despite having an outline, I was dragging my feet and I have no clear idea why. I decided to do a 10 minute free writing.session. That did the trick. I was back on track and ended up with 2,111 words for the day. Still, it took me over 2 hours to get there.

    November 2, 2011
    • Good for you Werner. Sometimes that first few words can stifle the mood for an entire writing session. Day 2 momentum is much better place to start.

      November 2, 2011
  7. At least you pushed through! And you are right – that’s the important part, that you were brave enough to do it. I’m what some consider a “NaNoWriMo Rebel” this year (working on a novel that already has 13,000 words), so I am using the event as a big kick in the butt. I can proudly say I did 2,016 words yesterday; sitting down at my computer now to hopefully do another 2,000 or so. I got spoiled with an easy first day…now I’m keeping my fingers crossed that every day is as easy as yesterday was.

    Good luck to you!

    November 2, 2011
    • Good for you Nicole. I’m a firm believer in NaNo rebels. Whatever it takes to get it finished. If November is that time and you can ride the wave of collective motivition, I say go for it. Here’s wishing you an easy Day 2.

      November 2, 2011
  8. Jan #

    This is my first year of NaNo. I went in only with two main characters and a situation to resolve. No outline. Wow, does that make for a slow first day. It doesn’t help that I am facing my own phobia about writing long fiction.

    After an evening of reframing my thinking and doing some actual planning, I am procrastinating by reading blogs… Enjoy yours tremendously.

    November 2, 2011
    • I honored that I could add to your procrastination, Jan. Remember Day 2 always get better. Thanks for stopping by.

      November 2, 2011
  9. Hang in there! That was about all I got yesterday, too (and I kinda cheated by including a character list that I did first). I was also just struck by the fact that I banged out a Squirrelcircus post in about 20 min this morning that would have made up half of today’s NaNoWriMo…if it was only part of my storyline!

    November 2, 2011
  10. I didn’t reach my daily goal yesterday, mainly because I had to get off the computer. But I also got stuck about 6 times. Even after getting on at midnight, I didn’t reach the goal. Today, I will have to catch up from yesterday as well as do today’s goal. I think I can do it, but I guess I didn’t really realize JUST how hard it is. I’m enjoying it, even though it’s hard though 🙂 Good luck fellow NaNoer!!!

    November 2, 2011
  11. hndbff1999 #

    Hey! My first, and second day went great! Although they are kinda short, im already on ch. 7! So excited!

    November 2, 2011
  12. *Thumbs up* for you 🙂

    How did my first day go? Umph.
    And the second day: umph…

    Thanks to Emmi I found out about the NaNo Rebels and I decided on doing one part fiction and ane part blog towards the 50k. Problem: The blog posts are not drafts, but also include editing and formatting which eat up a big piece of writing time cake. Result: Zero mph >> Umph 😉

    November 2, 2011
  13. Thanks for all the tips & tricks (& encouragement!) – your blog could probably qualify for 50% of my NaNo prep! This is my first year attempting NaNo & my first night I pumped out a blissful 2,000 words. Now the work is really beginning & I’m sure my first week high will run off soon 😉

    Btw – I read you labor story about delivering your son in the car & literally LOL’d in the middle of Starbucks! 🙂 You definitely have the gift of story-telling & a sense of humor t’boot! Happy writing!

    November 3, 2011
    • Don’t forget to come commiserate when the “first week high” subsides. Best of luck to you on this year’s NaNo. Glad you liked the labor story. It took me a long time after my son’s birth to write it. I had to work through the PTSD of actually being “that woman” who didn’t make it to the hospital before I could process how hilarious the whole thing was!

      November 4, 2011
  14. I’m glad you got over the recommended number of words for the first day and I hope it’s still going well. I wrote (to my surprise) 1,800 and something thinking there was no way I’d make it to 2000 that first day but never mind. I used my plan I’d written in a notebook and sort of followed that and yesterday I didn’t even manage as much as that but I think I’m managing to develop the characters a bit and I was editing dialogue in my head when I was on the bus on my way to work this morning. This evening is a bit of a shambles with 0 words written by me for NaNoWriMo but I’m not working tomorrow so maybe I can squeeze some in 4,000! by lunchtime!!!!!?????

    Hope you continue to progress…;-)

    November 4, 2011
    • I hope you’ve been making some good NaNoWriMo progress, loveofwords. Keep me posted on your progress.

      November 8, 2011

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