Well, it’s the end of November and I achieved what I set out to do. This year, I gone and done crazy (and it was crazy, believe me!). I wrote 50,768 words by hand. It took me 17 days; with an average of 3,000 words a day. If you go to my domain, you can check out the daily log that I kept through it all. It details my progress through the month: the good, the bad, and the whining.
TGIO, or Thank God It’s Over, happened twice for me this year. The short and sweet point of it happened when I turned in the novel and got official approval of being a winner. However, the earlier and more bittersweet moment happened when I penned the words “The End” onto the last signature of my writing journal. That moment is the hardest, because I I had to say goodbye to the world I’ve created. Seventeen days is quite a long time to live in the world of my protagonist. A world where magic lives and good triumphs over evil–with nothing more than the power of intellect. I loved writing about the lives of my characters, their journey of uncovering information, and exposing the darker side of what could exist in our world. After spending all that time in this world, it’s hard to let it go. This year, when I closed the leather cover, it made the transition from that world back to my world seem very real. I went to bed that night and cried. I wasn’t ready to let go. Is any writer really ready for that moment?
But it’s all over for me now. Seeing that I’ve had a week or so to think it all over, I wanted to share some final thoughts on what I learned from the experience of writing longhand.
So what exactly did I learn? Well, I learned that I’m not really into writing novels longhand. I’ve gained a huge respect for my friends (and the professionals, like Neal Stephenson) who do this with their drafts. But I felt as if I lost some of the ability to really “see” what I wanted to put into the novel. It was more grueling than fun for me.
I learned that it takes about half an Levenger inkwell to pen those 50,768 words. I also learned that my fountain pen could last about 10 pages before refilling again. My husband calculated that I was able to fit in 300 words on a single page during my peak writing (which occurs around the third page of each day). One must write very small in order to fit 3,000 words into a single 10 page signature. I even had to make an additional 10 page signature, because I ran out of space in the bound book. I thought about using a Moleskine Cashier to finish up, but with only 3000 words left to go, I I didn’t want to waste the pages. Had I been able to fit a few thousand more words onto the first day or two of writing, I would have finished this year’s draft in a single book.
I learned that it takes about 4 hours to write (and count) approximately 3,000 words. Which feels like an eternity of writing during the day. I normally hammer out about 2,000 words when working on a computer. That’s usually enough time for me to spend each day working on one single project. Anything more and I get anxious. Had I known it was going to take me 4 hours to write all those words, I’d have maybe… re-thunk the whole idea.
Most importantly, though, I learned that writing longhand and writing on a computer produce two vastly different worlds. Writing by hand taught me to slow down a bit and expand upon both scenes and character. I felt like I had to write more dialogue and get the characters doing more. Whereas, on the computer, I can delve into the surroundings a bit more and give lots of color to the world my characters run around in. Both have their merits but I think I enjoy being able to close my eyes and run around in the world I’m creating while I’m writing.
So, there you have it folks. I’m a NaNoWriMo 2008 winner! I’ve completed my 7th full first draft of a novel and can proudly say (and bear the writer’s bump to prove it) that I did it all by my own hands. Congratulations to all the my other D*I*Y Planner NaNoWriMo participants and winners! I hope you had a wonderful November and fun writing your novels.