The objective of NaNoWriMo is to write 50,000 words between November 1-30. It’s mostly for fun, for the people who’ve always wanted to write a novel but never found the time or courage to do so. However, over the years it has slightly morphed into a time where aspiring authors whip out the first half (or majority of the book, depending on projected word count) of their novel in hopes of publication. Because of this small change in agenda, coupled with the rise of self-publishing, there’s a new pressure to perform during this month.
I joined Savvy Author’s Entangled Publishing Smackdown because I liked the challenge they offered as well as the chance to get a pitch in front of an editor’s eyes. I did all of the preliminary work in late October, and would have been prepared to dive in had I not had the task of revising my manuscript, The Townsend Inheritance. That bled into the first week of NaNoWriMo and I didn’t realize how much energy I expended in writing 6-10k words for seven days straight!! I though that a quick rest over the weekend would be the ticket, but as I entered this week, the words came ugly and sluggishly.
Ay me!, as Juliet exclaims.
I forced out a few hundred words today before I set the MS aside to clear my brain. It also didn’t help that my crazed writing week resulted in a small cold since I was literally running on one or two meals a day in a chilly house–my shoulders, arms and hands also forgot to thank me, lol. Since NaNoWriMo is all about the rah-rah push through the troubled spots/boredom/horrible writing, I was reluctant to admit defeat, especially after writing that epic manuscript and I didn’t want to let my team down. But I felt backed a bit into a corner and couldn’t see a way out unless I chucked the pitch and did something else. That wasn’t an option–my damnable pride!–and so I went to sleep for a few hours (and last night was not fun for me at all). When I awoke I checked Twitter on my phone and saw a listing for an upcoming film on TCM that was set during WWI.
I’m not shy about filching some of my best ideas from my beloved classic films, and I mulled over the premise of that movie for a bit. Even though I’m not normally an angsty writer, I do love the emotions that war or harrowing situations can bring to a romance novel, and based on the premise of my original pitch, this element was missing from the book. In fact, I could have easily shifted the setting to the pre-war years and it wouldn’t have mattered at all. Yet, as we all know, the historical setting should be vital to a historical novel and being able to shift it around shows a bit of a structural weakness. But that’s just my opinion. Anyways, I scribbled down a few ideas to make this plot my own and then realized that the conflict between my protagonists in my original pitch was workable with this new plot–I didn’t have to start from scratch with new characters at all.
Now some may see this as cheating, since you’re supposed to get “crap” on the page no matter what, but I’m seeking publication for this MS and it would defeat the purpose of my writing career to plow on with a book that doesn’t work instead of seeing how to make it work, and within a deadline. What about you? Do you use NaNoWriMo differently since you’re seeking publication? Or do you just go with the spirit of the month-long writing fest?