This NaNoWriMo thing has proven to be much more of a challenge than I previously thought. I knew it would be difficult, because who ever said writing a novel in a month was easy? That’s right, no one. But, I started out so prepared. I had an outline, character and setting sketches, and a scene-by-scene breakdown. The problem? My idea still wasn’t good.
I feel I should take you back to the beginning before I move on.
In an advanced creative writing class my senior year of college, I had a picture in my head: a boy and a girl who were best friends. They were eleven-years-old and lived next door to one another. I saw their personalities so clearly and I knew immediately I had to write a story about them. I wrote three stories over the course of the semester, each one following the pair at a different point in their lives. By the end of the semester, I still didn’t feel like I’d gotten their story out of my head, and I knew I wanted to write a book.
I filtered through different genres and plot ideas, but my two main characters always stayed the same. However, when I started NaNoWriMo with my story outline, I realized very quickly that it wasn’t the story I wanted to tell. I’d somehow moved so far away from what I originally imagined this story to be. It felt like a circus, to be honest. My characters had gotten lost in the hullabaloo and were hanging on for dear life.
I was left with a choice: continue writing 2,000 words a day on a book I knew I didn’t like, or start over and spend more time writing the better book.
I know the choice seems like a no-brainer, but it can be so hard to scrap an idea and start over. While the beginning of my first draft wasn’t what I wanted it to be, there were still parts of it I really liked. Plus, I’d committed to finishing my first draft in November and there I was, not even a week in, giving up. I felt defeated, but I also felt I owed it to myself to write the better book. So, I’ve started over. I’m currently not writing anywhere near 2,000 words a day (more like 600). Instead, I’m working on a new story outline and trying to stay as true as possible to the story in my head. I still plan to get this first draft done in 4-6 weeks, it just won’t be in the month of November.
It really stinks knowing I’ve spent so much time working on a story I ultimately decided not to write, but I also don’t think I would be at this point had I not spent that time. Sometimes you have to wade through the muck to get to the other side. And that’s where I think I finally am, the illusive “other side”.