Wrap-Up Wednesday

Hill outside our vacation cabin in Cody, Wyoming.

Reaching the 10,000-word mark was a long, slow climb. But can't you see me there on the top of the mountain?

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.

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2 thoughts on “Wrap-Up Wednesday

  1. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and stuck on a big project. Good for you for sticking with it, even if you didn’t reach your NaNoWriMo goal this year.

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