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National Novel Writing Month 2022 – a NaNoWriMo Victory Tale

For those of you not in the know, November is National Novel Writing Month, or “NaNoWriMo”. Created by the nonprofit organization of the same name, NaNoWriMo promotes creative writing throughout the world by sponsoring content, providing tools for writers, and hosting platforms for writers to record and share their progress towards writing 50,000 words in the month of November.

This year I participated, and now I have the first draft of my first novel to show for it.

The Project

The minimally observant among you will have notice that the last time I posted at Plot and Theme was March of 2020, where I recapped my favorite films of the previous year. After that, I resolved to post more often about films, but when the pandemic shut down new releases, I had to pivot to something else.

There were many ways to go. I have a collection of ideas for pieces on aesthetics and romantic realism. There are classic films that I would still like to write about, plus I have two and a half Stanley Kubrick films to finish to complete that entire retrospective.

But there was something else that I was interested in as well: creative writing. I had some ideas, but not the technique or drive. Then, last August, I started in earnest. I went through big spurts and long dry spells. When November 2022 came around, I felt that if I successfully completed NaNoWriMo, I would make it to the end of the first draft.

I was a little short, but yesterday, on December 9th 2022, I finally typed “THE END.”

Here’s how that last push went.

NaNoWriMo By the Numbers

I started NaNoWriMo 2022 with over 65,000 words already written, mired in the dregs of the dreaded Act 2. But I had my plot structured out and a reasonable idea of what I had to do, so I got to writing. I divided the month into five segments, each six days long and set mini goals to make certain that I had written at least 10K words in each segment. This was to keep me from falling behind.

As you can see, I was incredibly consistent, overall averaging over 1674 words per day for the entirety of November and the first nine days of December. And now I have a first draft.

What’s Next for Project Viral?

I have a first draft, but it is likely a piece of shit. No worries – all a first draft has to be to be worthwhile is finished, and now it is. It has graduated from “Project Viral” to an honest-to-God working title:

So what’s next for “Viral Agents”? First, it gets to sit on the metaphorical shelf until at least February 2023 when I can look at it with fresher eyes and start going through the first round of edits. It needs to shrink to somewhere between 80K and 100K words for it to hit the sweet spot in its genre. Here on Plot and Theme, I will keep updating the progress of the second draft.

In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning a little more about Viral Agents, hop on over to this post where I announced the project for the first time.


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Derek Jacobs

Chicago,IL 60606

A website

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