Whew! NaNoWriMo is almost over for this year. Today is the last official day for writing on my novel for the word count alone. I declare it to be Wrap-Up Wednesday. Not that my novel is going to be finished. The characters are still arguing over what they’re doing on that damn island. Anyway, yesterday I challenged myself — and anyone else willing to accept the challenge — to write 10,000 words in a single day. I did it!
It wasn’t easy. I had this great idea of getting up early and writing, but I have to admit that any chance I have to sleep in, novel or not, I take it. So I did not start working on my word count until later in the day. I started slowly, and like all good challenges, this one made me freeze in my tracks. Yep, suddenly I had no idea of what I needed to write for the next scene in the book. And the whole month long, this hasn’t really been much of a problem. It figures — as soon as I tell the world I’m going to do this my brain seizes up on me.
So I did what I always do when I’m stuck: I went back and started tweaking my previous chapters. I avoided editing them or removing words, but I had plenty of places where I had just had the characters moving around with very little description of their surroundings or what someone looked like. So I added some depth to those scenes, filling them out, adding a sprinkling of fluff here and there. Not too much. Eventually I began writing entirely new paragraphs and some backstory. I did this for about 4,000 words.
Then I had to face the music: I needed to write the next scene and get the story moving again. I squirmed in my chair, because I was really stuck. And add to all this the fact that my eyes were so bleary yesterday I couldn’t focus on my computer screen, no matter which pair of glasses I was wearing. Yes, I have an old pair and a new pair. Neither helped me much. My eyes were just plain tired. But once I’d passed the 4,000 mark, I kept telling myself that I was almost halfway.
That was the worst part of it. I began to ease into it and kept plugging away. Five thousand came and went, then I crawled on to 6,000. I kept pushing myself to write. If the count was 6249, I told myself I just needed 51 words more to reach 6300. I kept moving. Around the 8,350 word point I stopped and went down for dinner. It was 9:00 at night, and I wanted to watch something on TV at 10:00. I gobbled down some turkey leftovers and rushed back upstairs at 9:20 to do more typing. I pushed myself. At 9:59 I had 9,386 words. I went back down for the TV show, the last slice of pumpkin pie, and decaf coffee.
I got back to my computer at just after 11:00 p.m. for the final stretch of writing. Just slightly more than 600 words remained. I got stuck again because I finished the scene I was working on and couldn’t figure out anything else for the characters to say to each other. So I went back and did more tweaking. The word counter inched forward, 9400, 9500, 9600. I got distracted by the writing (hey, it happens!) and looked up to see 10,058. Finally!
There was definitely a point where I started to doubt if I could pull it off, but I kept plugging away at it. Best of all, I got several writers to accept the challenge, and I know a few of them passed the 10,000-word mark. Was it fun? Yes. Well, yes, it was. I’m not going to do it today, though. I’m going to take it easy and aim for a measly 5,000 words. I’ve decided that 75,000 is my new NaNoWriMo goal. I have 4,942 words to go.