Yesterday: Day 1
The throat tickle I’ve had all week dripped and scratched itself deep yesterday. Full-on cold symptoms. Awesome. But I figured if I didn’t get started on November 1, I wouldn’t get started.
So I sat down at my desk, opened my computer, and started cutting and pasting. I started with blog posts from the time period I have in mind to write about. The blog posts added up to something just under 10,000 words. I didn’t read them as I cut and pasted. No evaluation or censoring—well, not much. The point of NaNoWriMo is to produce raw material, isn’t it? I might not be truly producing yet, but I’m certainly not going to start editing, either.
After I’d harvested all I could from the blog, I went through my very messy hard drive, searching through drafts, cutting and pasting in between blog posts as I tried to keep things roughly in chronological order. I have so many drafts, mostly unsorted, all over the place. It’s hard to find what I want by keyword search any more. I didn’t take loads of time to organize, but as I searched I also made some attempt at leaving my files tidier than I found them (thanks, Mom). Even though I wasn’t reading the drafts, I could still see certain friendships and places appearing and reappearing in those drafts. I resisted the impulse to chart or measure or plan. Not yet. My only plan right now is not having a plan.
Here’s why. I’m afraid if I take the time to develop a plan, I’ll talk myself out of trying to end the month with a 50,000-word manuscript. It would be so easy to decide this stuff is boring and no one will be interested. That may well be true, but I’m not going to make that assessment until at least December!
I would have liked to use the extra hour from setting back our clocks to sleep, but my cold woke me up at six—I mean five o’clock. I remembered a couple of journal entries that might fit with my manuscript, so I added those fragments (1,500 words) to my work-in-progress before I even got started writing for the day. And from the moment I laid fingers to keyboard, I had to banish thoughts about how lame this exercise is and how messy the manuscript. I promised myself: no indulging in self doubt until December. Power on through.
I started on page one of the 30,000 or so words I’d patched together from drafts. As I read, I added some narrative and reflection and made notes for threads to weave into later parts of the manuscript. In fits and starts, I wrote 1,138 words—my first new writing of the month. I only got to page 18. Tomorrow I intend to pick up there and continue reading and augmenting my way through until I’ve got another thousand words.
Here’s my advice to myself today, starting as I am with a pretty good chunk of manuscript already before me:
Resist deleting. When you notice repetition, leave it stand for now. Don’t worry about tense inconsistencies or any craft decisions. Keep slapping on more words here and there and filling out the pages with material. Just write.
Starting word count: 31,786
Ending word count: 32,924
Words written: 1,138
Words remaining: 17,078
Words per day to finish on time: 589