Fairytale Fantasy

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Completing NaNoWriMo: A Six Year Dream Comes True

You may recall a post I popped up a month back explaining NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month. Basically, the premise is to write a fifty thousand word novel in the month of November. I first heard about the challenge when I was thirteen and became obsessed with the idea of it. I entered my first year when I was fourteen and have entered every year for the past six. I normally give up around the twenty thousand word mark, as this is normally the time my deadlines begin to kick in, or I get sick, or I hit a mid-way slump and can't figure a way out of it. My absolute record was something like thirty two thousand, and I was, and still am, absolutely thrilled about that.

I had no reason but to expect this year would be anything different. In fact, given the poor state of my health in regards to my anxiety, the growing importance of my assignments etc. etc., I fully expected to crash and burn within the first week. I made a chapter by chapter plan, exactly as I always have. On November first, I sat, staring at the screen, struggling, as per usual, to form my first line. Once that was written, the rest of the days words flowed like water in a stream. In fact, I do not believe I did anything differently from the previous attempts. Except that I really, really wanted to write my story, and I enjoyed doing so.

For the first fortnight all went well, in fact, I was ahead of schedule. But then I went home for a few days due to getting sick, and then I didn't write for five days. I should mention that NaNoWriMo has this graph on the site which allows you to track your word count against the daily goal. I remember looking at it when I returned to Oxford, the bars of my word count falling way behind the climbing suggested line. This was the moment, the moment in which I had to decide. Did I continue to try, knowing that I had presentations and assignments due in, making the next month of my life stressful and I was likely to not even finish? Or do I give up, dedicating my time to my assignments and vowing to try harder next time? I decided that I wanted, no, I had to try.

So I did.

I had already been spending hours each day in the library, but now I stepped everything up. I would be in the library by nine am at the latest, and stay until six at the earliest, with the exception of lectures, to do my university work. I would then go home and write, aiming to get two thousand words done a night. By that point it would be fairly late and I had to go straight to bed. This was my routine and it was exhausting, as I was still suffering from insomnia and had lost my appetite due to being poorly. But I kept going. And going. And going. One day, I realised I had written thirty six thousand words. I jumped around my room. No matter what, I thought, I've done better than I have any other year. Soon enough I was on forty thousand words, then forty five thousand. I called my mum at this point, because I realised I could do it. I had three days to write five thousand words. This was doable. Easily so. I  got emotional just talking about the idea of completing this challenge I had been attempting for almost all of my teenage and young adult life. On Saturday 29th November, I decided not to do any of my assignments, deciding to write the remaining five thousand words. This was actually one of the hardest days writing I have ever done, struggling with even the most basic sentences.

I hit fifty thousand words at about seven o'clock that evening.

I cried. I called my mum. I called my dad. I told everyone in the flat. I tweeted. I tumbled. I told anyone who would listen. I wrote fifty thousand words in twenty nine days. I have the bulk of my first, proper novel. Seven years later, I reached my goal.

I'm not writing this in an attempt to show off. Nor am I writing this post purely about writing, or NaNoWriMo. What I am trying to say, what I am trying to show, is that you can do anything. You can achieve whatever you want, as long as you try your hardest. You need to sacrifice things sometimes, you need to prioritise. Sometimes you will face obstacles. Sometimes you can fall behind. But you can pull it back. You can catch up. You can make your dreams come true.

I'm still in shock I managed to do this. I'm expecting to wake up any minute, and still be on page six. But it happened. I did it. I'm proud of myself.

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