Friday, December 8, 2017

Who’s a NaNoWriMo Winner? ME!

In November 2017, I challenged myself to write 50,000 words over 30 days.

What is this crazy-number challenge? It’s NaNoWriMo, which stands for National Nove Writing Month. Every November, authors from across the globe challenge themselves to completing a draft or book by writing 50,000 words over a 30-day period. This means around 1,667 words per day, which is not an easy task.

Last time I took part in NaNoWriMo was in 2013 and I only wrote around 3,500 words (give or take a few). Since then, Novembers came and passed and I didn’t take part in the challenge.

But in 2017, I decided I’d take the challenge and had an idea for a story that had been playing in my head for some time. What I call DeeDee’s story.

A mug and its matching coaster I bought in November. I loved drinking from it
while I was working on my NaNoWriMo novel 

On the first day, I passed the required daily count by 100 words. I was thrilled. The second day, let’s just say life got in the way, then the third. On the fourth, I made slow progress. A few days into the second week, I was over 10,000 words behind schedule!

I thought I’d settle for 30,000 words instead of 50,000 but then decided I would do my best to reach the original target. I had another 14 days to prove myself to ME!

Then, I took one day off work, glued my butt to the chair and started writing.

That day, I ended up with a little over 6,000 words! Can you believe that? 6,000 words in a single day! That was equivalent to what I had been doing for the past three months, the full months! I wanted to jump up and down in my room (but didn't in case any family members came in and thought I'd completely lost it!)

Also bought this in November.
Perfect for mystery writers, right?

Still, despite my leap in progress I was not on track - yet. So the hard work had to go on.

When I started the month, I just had some vague idea about certain parts of the novel along with some characters. So, I started writing, but as I progressed I realised that unlike my other writing project this one required an outline.

So, I sat down, picked out the full cast of my characters, and made an initial outline of at least the first three or four chapters along with some main events that I needed to cover. As the novel and I progressed, the events were allocated certain chapters, while other events just popped out in the middle, like romance knocking on DeeDee’s door and other characters looking to appear a second time and so on.

After much hard work, most – if not all – my gym workouts sacrificed and another day taken off from work. I was done. I closed the case and the mystery on the 28th. On the 29th of November, I made some more tweaking, added an actual concluding chapter and was done with 53,166 words!

That's 3,000 words over the target and one day ahead of schedule!

I couldn't believe it!

To corroborate my success, NaNoWriMo lets you put the full text – for confirmation – on their website. That done. I was given a CONGRATULATIONS! WINNER! And this lovely badge!

I have learnt a lot of things by doing NaNoWriMo this year. I know a few of things below are a bit obvious but sometimes you just need to prove to yourself that you can.

So what did NaNoWriMo 2017 teach me?

1)    That I can do it.
2)    That I had not been 100% serious the previous months when I had a 10,000-word target but barely managed 6,000 and once 8,000.
3)    I need to organise my time better.
4)    (A continuation of no. 3) I need to be able to work out, read, and write all in a month.

Throughout November, I was unable to continue reading the books I had started, or pick up new ones. I thought I'd be able to read or finish at least one book.

But I must say, it was all worth it. The sleepless time, the outlines and crossing-outs done (yes, I typed the novel but the outlines and basic ideas were handwritten), the abandoned workouts. DeeDee's story has been born.

The characters speaking in my head at all times of the day was probably the hardest part but it was a great experience.

And you know what?


Learn more about the differences between a tradition mystery and cozy mystery in this exclusive guest post by author Kirsten Weiss. It was a great reference for me both in learning and while writing.

Check out Nadaness In Motion's cozy mystery book reviews to learn more about the genre and meet some amazing books and authors.

There are a few authors who have unknowingly and indirectly helped me but don't know it. Here are two of them: Devorah Fox and Kirsten Weiss. Every cozy mystery author I've read has helped me one way or another. 

Special thanks to Marc Remus for his help with my second main character, Alexander, the painter.

And of course several close friends, who know who they are.

Oh! Have you seen my shiny certificate? 
(I don't have a novel title yet so DeeDee's paranormal cozy mystery will just have to do!)

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