#NaNoWriMo – A Week 1 Contrast

Well, we’re just a few days into NaNoWriMo 2021. My start, like many, has been strong as I’ve ridden the opening-week adrenaline. Caffeine, too. The beginning of the beginning, for me, always starts with a tradition that also serves as a reminder of how far I’ve come.

Photo: CA Hawthorne
Autumn 2014. Photo: CA Hawthorne

Back in 2014, before my first NaNo, I’d just moved to Montana and was returning to writing after a lengthy illness. I’d never heard of NaNo until that October and was waffling over whether I wanted to try it while, in the back of my mind, I was tossing around some story ideas. I decided that IF I tried it that it’d be for fun. It’d be playtime. I’d get a feel for writing again. I’d step out of the fantasy genre and try something new.

That is, IF I decided to do it.

By Halloween I was leaning against it. I was in a bad place emotionally and it sounded like too much work. I gave out candy. I watched movies. I thought about the opening scene in the story I wasn’t writing over and over again. I realized my bad place was because I wasn’t writing.

Thirty minutes before midnight on the 31st, I reversed course and decided to do it. I went to the NaNo site, created an account, and thought up a title. At a frantic pace, I spent the minutes leading up to midnight creating the characters for that opening scene and kinda sorta working out why any of what was happening was happening.

I was so excited that I started writing at midnight. I don’t remember the exact number of words that night, but I believe it was about 500. I barely slept. From then on, necessity dictated that I plan in the morning and draft in the afternoon and evening. By the end of the first week, though, reality set in. There was no actual story, despite my twisting the tale into a pretzel to make it work.

The book was awful. I finished with about 65K. I had the time of my life! That experience led to so much, including my tradition where I write at midnight. This year I wrote almost 800 words in about forty minutes, then went to bed.

Cover: CA Hawthorne

My goal this year for my 8th NaNo is to write two novels by January 1st. That meant double planning in October. It meant having to project the story out twice as far. Since I can’t know what unplanned events might end up in the 4th book there’s some risk. If so, I’ll have to adjust when I begin Bk5.

My gut tells me those adjustments will be minimal.

That first NaNo, the plan was straightforward. 30 days. 50K words. 1,667 words per day. Straightforward. After that first year, the plan became to finish an entire novel by the end of the month. That added more stress because I couldn’t be certain what the finished length would be.

This year, there’s twice the stress, though it’s self-imposed. After all, there’s no real penalty if I limp into January. Except, I haven’t drafted as much as I have by tossing aside goals when it suits me. Baring a grave illness, I will make it. My average draft length to date is about 130K. Times two means 260K by New Years. 61 days. That’s 4,262 words per day, which is less than my average through NaNo last year, though that was just for a month.

Can I do it? Thus far, after two days, I’m well ahead of that pace. I also have the added incentive of ending the series. Am I stressed? You bet, but excited and up to the challenge. I want this, will do this, and will enjoy every minute of my time because I always do. Drafting and revising aren’t work, they’re creation.


About Christina Anne Hawthorne

Alive and well in the Rocky Mountains. I'm a fantasy writer who also dabbles in poetry, short stories, and map making. My Ontyre tales are an alternative fantasy experience, the stories rich in mystery, adventure, and romance. Alternative fantasy? Not quite steampunk. Not quite gothic. In truth, the real magic is in those who discover what's within.
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