This is a weekly log as I attempt to take on NaNoWriMo during November 2020. NaNoWriMo is a yearly writing challenge that dares writers to write 50,000 words (a novel) in a month. In these logs, I’ll discuss the ups and downs of my writing process: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 |
When I initially wrote the outline for my NaNo novel, I had a vague understanding of its finale. Each of my outline’s finale beats was described in one line. I hoped that the knowledge of the future me would turn each beat into a literary masterpiece. My exact thought process was the following:
“After I’ve worked on my story during NaNoWriMo, I’ll have a better understanding of what the finale should be. I’ll just leave it until then! Time to eat more Halloween candy!”
It’s Week 4. I’m just as clueless about the finale now as I was then.
Save the Cat: Writes a Novel organizes the finale in a distinct, organized way. The book calls it the “Five-Point Finale”. Here’s a description of each sub-beat that happens during the Five-Point Finale:
- Gathering the team: The main character rallies the help they need to execute their plan to succeed. The beat could include reconnecting with side characters or gathering tools.
- Executing the plan: Accompanied by the necessary help, the main character tries to execute their plan.
- High tower surprise: During the execution, something goes wrong. This twist forces the main character to re-evaluate their strategy.
- Dig deep down: Through introspection, the main character finds the right path to success.
- The execution of the new plan: The enlightened main character puts their newly-constructed plan into action and either succeeds or fails.
Project Limbo (my NaNoWriMo 2020 project) is the first time I’ve tried to bring a Save the Cat-inspired outline to life. As a result, the Five-Point Finale was a lot to handle. I was grasping at straws as I tried to come up with a narrative that tied tens of thousands of words together. My frustration had reached a new high.
Done is Better Than Perfect
I was losing steam during Week 4. Organizing a finale left me at a crossroads: do I focus on quality or completion? Do I organize a compelling Five-Point Finale like my life depended on it? Do I just pick the first ending that comes to mind and finish the darn thing? What do I do?
I was ready to jump ship and work on different things. But, I would have been so disappointed in myself if I didn’t finish — especially since I had a great run word count wise.
My inner perfectionist was barking in my ear like a golden retriever. But, I reminded myself that this discovery draft was just for me.
Who am I trying to impress? No one’s going to see this iteration of the story besides me.
I decided that what’s most important is that I finish. I wrote an epilogue, tied up the plot points into a pretty bow, and danced in my bedroom to Jay Rock’s WIN after I wrote the final word. (The last word I wrote was “free”.)
I’m so proud of myself for finishing. In the beginning, staying consistent was rough. But, once I implemented that habit of writing every day it became second nature.
I’m a NaNoWriMo 2020 winner — for real this time.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go celebrate by eating my bodyweight in Thanksgiving leftovers.
Week 4 (11/22–11/28) Word Count
What I Needed: 50,000 words
What I Have: 65,506 words (I finished the story on Thanksgiving!)
How was your Week 4? What have you learned by doing NaNoWriMo this year?