My NaNoWriMo Experience

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Each year, thousands of people around the world commit to writing 1667 words each day for the entire month of November. The idea behind that being, you will end up with a 50,000 word manuscript in one month.

For years, I have been toying with the idea of writing. I kept telling myself I will do it someday. I even wrote down one chapter. The characters were hazy images in my head. I knew the story had one, maybe two protagonists but beyond that I did not know these people. They flitted around in my head like zombies. Each day I would tell myself, today I will write. I will make a beginning. I signed up for a year-long certificate program in creative writing thinking that will force me to write. It did. I came up with few pages for each workshop but it did little to nudge me down the path to writing every day.

So, November rolled around and I sat down and wrote. Each night, I would put the kids down to bed, grab a water bottle, silence my phone, lock the study and go to work. Some days the words flew. My fingers had a life of their own. The characters took form and shape. They created lives of their own. They sprouted families. They developed personalities. Some days, I was stuck. I sat, staring at the monitor wondering where these people in my head were headed. When inspiration failed, I took to embellishing what I had already written. I filled in background details. I added nuggets to make the places come alive. I fleshed out the characters a little more. I provided them with a past that would explain their future.

My story did not have an ending in my head. Any path I took was clichΓ©d. I reached out for help. Friends read what I had and commented on the evolving story. I tweaked the story. The first draft when done read like a beach read when I had intended it to be anything but that. I took a break and came back to it with fresh eyes. I deleted chapters, rewrote existing ones. The second draft looked a tad better, yet, it missed a soul.

I was at 40K words and ready to give up. I took another break and wrote the rest in two days. When I crossed the 50K mark, I felt euphoric. The euphoria had little to do with the words on paper. It had to do with crossing a mental block. Somewhere in committing to writing each day, I had taken to looking at myself as a writer. I gave myself permission to write, to think of myself as a writer foremost.

What followed past the month of November was even better. With a rough draft on hand, I started dipping my toes in the publishing world. I read up on what it takes to get published. Words like agents, queries, synopsis, cover letter, writer’s resume now became familiar. I let go of my reservation and reached out to fellow writers. By reaching out, I learned from them. I signed up to follow other writers, publishers, agents and writing gurus. A hitherto unknown world now opened its doors to me.

I know the odds of me finding representation or getting published are slim. It may not be this book or the book after but I tell myself if I keep at it, continue practicing my craft, someday, I will find a book with my name on it at the local bookstore.

They say visualizing a dream is powerful. I am holding on to that image as a lighthouse as I ride the choppy waters home.

13 comments

  1. I am all for visualising and positive affirmation. You are a born writer. Words dance on your fingertips. Your NaNo journey is inspiring,most of all, for me. I will be waiting to see your name on those bookshelves too. Trust me.

  2. Congratulations, Laks! I’m so excited for you. We all have to figure out what helps us stay the path of writerly ambitions and I’m glad Namowrimo worked out so well for you! I’m eager to follow your journey through the publishing process.

  3. Loved the determination and the discipline with which you wrote every day. Very inspiring. I have a picture of you and I that I will flaunt when your book is released and you become famous….!

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