In amongst all the other things that go on in my life, some of which you may have read about on this very blog, I’ve found time to conduct a writing experiment. I thought it would be good to find out if I preferred writing a whole novel (or at least a first draft of around 50,000 – 54,000 words) in a month or taking two months at a rate of 30,000 words a month. This was inspired, as many things are, by NaNoWriMo. Each November for quite a few years I’ve dutifully written a novel of at least 50,000 words from scratch. I also wrote one in this way in March for Camp NaNoWriMo. However, when July CampNaNoWriMo came along, I decided to try a change. I wrote 30,000 words of the novel in July and most of the rest in August, although because I ended up at 68,000+ words it dragged on into the first week of September.
Which was better? How long is a piece of string?
50,000 words in 1 month:
- A more coherent story (or at least it feels that way)
- You get it over with more quickly
- 50,000 words makes a realistic target – only 1667 words a day
- If you are doing this in November, you get it over well before Christmas
- There’s no time to think
- It can be physically wearing
68,000 words in just over 2 months:
- You can usually write a bit more than your target, as I did
- There’s a bit more time to think – good or bad?
- You can take an odd break, even for a weekend
- It’s a bit easier on the joints
- It’s tempting to dawdle
- It’s easier to lose track of the plot
- The story can seem rambling or sprawling*
- It feels as if the drafting process will go on forever
*this may be partly because in this particular story the characters rambled all over the UK.
I’m still not sure which is better – even after just over 2 months’ work on my current novel, I still have the whole editing process to get through. I am not entirely sure just how much I did lose the plot as I went along either. I think I will stick to the traditional NaNoWriMo model for November as I definitely need to get the first draft out of the way before I get immersed in the ‘joys’ of the pantomime season, but I might try the 2 month approach again next summer – providing I get anything like a coherent novel out of this current flood of words.