Justin Tadlock

Day 1 of NaNoWriMo

National Novel Writing Month banner image.

David Chandra, a friend I know from the WordPress community, said he was looking forward to reading my Day 1 post after hearing about my attempt to finish a novel for National Novel Writing Month.

I hadn’t planned to write a Day 1 post because I figured I wouldn’t have much time for anything after adding my novel-writing endeavor to my full schedule.

But, here we are.

The first day had its high and low points. I managed to fumble through 1,681 words in my first two-hour writing session. When the day began, I wasn’t overly confident about my chances of getting off to a solid start. I had no plot ideas. I hadn’t thought of a single character. I didn’t have a clue about the world that my story would be taking place in.

It wasn’t until after breakfast that I started formulating some idea of a character I wanted to write about. A memory from last year popped into my mind for potential storyline. I had something to build from.

Typing those first words on the screen was a struggle. Where do I start? What should my characters say? I hadn’t flexed my fiction-writing muscles in a long while and stared at a blank screen for minutes.

After knocking out the first few paragraphs, I was a bit looser but still struggling.

I was around 800 words into my story when I checked in at the 1-hour mark. Things had picked up a bit. After a 15-minute break, I popped in Volume 1 of the Dawson’s Creek soundtrack and started pounding the keys. I found some rhythm. It wasn’t pretty, but the story was flowing. Things were starting to happen. Two characters had come to life. I had a bit of a vision of this world that they inhabited.

I stopped.

When I hit the 2-hour mark, I shut things down. I left the story to stand as it was. As much as I hate to cut off the creative flow, I know that I need to maintain a relatively steady pace for the next 29 days. Overdoing it too much on Day 1 could spell disaster down the road.

I tapped out at about 1,681 words for my first session. That’s just over my goal of 1,667 words/day to hit the 50,000-word mark at the end of the month.

I don’t plan to blog about this experience every day of the month. I need to save some of my creative juices for my design and development work. Blogging about it every day will likely contribute to burnout. I’ll at least try to periodically update the blog here with my progress. We’ll see how it goes.

The NaNoWriMo Web site has badges for various goals, so I may update based on some of those. Thus far, I’ve earned the following “writing” badges:

  • You’ve got a novel (for starting).
  • You’re on your way (for my first word count update).
  • You hit the 1,667 mark (for passing that word count goal).

They have several other writing badges alongside participation and personal achievement badges. A mini reward system like that should help keep me motivated.

Overall, I’m just happy I made it through the first day. Even though I struggled a bit getting started, I forgot how much I enjoyed the challenge of fiction writing.