I passed the 50,000-word mark on this months’ NaNoWriMo novel a few days ago. Due to circumstance and other projects, I haven’t written anything more since that happened. I did learn a few important things this NaNo, however.
Choosing to write historical fiction was both a really good and a really terrible idea. For me, writing something historical is always fraught with terror and frustration. I want to get all of the little details correct. (When I come across things I know to be factually inaccurate in historical novels I’ve read, the mistakes tend to pull me out of the story, for one thing. Also, I’m a tiny bit obsessive.) It means I get bogged down in the research, and writing the story itself is nearly impossible. But giving myself a deadline meant I pounded out that story. I’ll have to go back and edit a lot and fact check and obsess some more, but the skeleton of the novel is in place, which is probably more than I would have been able to say if I had written this novel on my own time. But writing was frustrating in a lot of ways because I found myself getting hung up on the details—”Would a man in 1927 really say that?” “Yes, but what is she wearing?”—and the story didn’t always progress how I intended it. (Which is maybe a weird thing for a writer to say; I have control, after all. Except maybe I don’t because I wanted the novel to be darker, more detailed. I’ll have to go back to fix that.)
Still, it’s hard not to feel good about having a first draft well underway. (I’d guess I still have about 25K words to write to finish the whole draft.)