NaNoWriMo Wrap-Up

Well, National Novel Writing Month is over. I’ve been away from my blog for much longer than I would have liked, but it was well worth it. I did it! I successfully wrote an entire novel in 30 days. This is a first for me, and although it still has plenty of polishing to be done before I’m ready for it to see print, I must say that I’m pretty darn proud of myself.

The goal for NaNoWriMo was, as you probably remember from my earlier posts, to write 50,000 words by the end of November. I hit that goal a few days early, then used the remainder of the month to complete the story. I wrote the words “The End” on the final day.

Overall it was an interesting experience for me. I didn’t really utilize any of the helpful tools that the official NaNoWriMo website provides, like sharing ideas and motivation through forum posts or writing buddies, or like meeting up for “write-ins” with other authors. I’ve always been better at writing when alone, so none of these social devices were going to be of any help to me.

The thing for me that actually was helpful and that I definitely made use of was the daily word count entry, which charted your progress and provided interesting statistics, such as what your average daily word count was and what your estimated date of completion would be. This helped me stay accountable to myself, and it got me to force myself to make time every day for writing. Honestly that has always been my downfall as a writer. It’s way too easy to let laziness win.

The next step is, of course, to go back over this entire first draft and make adjustments, revisions, and even some total rewrites of certain passages. Some of this will be incredibly easy, since I made some changes to the plot as I got further into the book. Certain things I’d written earlier conflict with these later changes, so I’ll need to alter them to fit. Not a problem, really. The hard part will be when I get to points where I find myself having to change or completely delete segments that I really like. I don’t want to leave anything good on the cutting room floor, so-to-speak, but I know it is probably inevitable. That, I think, is what I’ll find most difficult during this process.

I’ve seen and been told that the self-publishing process these days is incredibly easy, if that’s the route I choose to go. But to be honest, I’m not really comfortable with that idea right now. I’d really like this novel to have the opportunity to become something big (not that I’m conceited enough to think that it definitely will, but I want the possibility to be there). I’ve been told that for that to even have a chance I’ll need an agent, an editor, and a publicist. Now we’re getting into completely unfamiliar territory for me. If any fellow writers out there who have done this already have any words of wisdom on this subject to share, I’d be eager to hear them.

Outside of all that, as you can clearly tell I have made it back to the blog. Hopefully I can get back to a regular rhythm of a new post every three or four days, but with this being the holiday season it may be a challenge to do so. Thank you all for reading this far. I’m glad to have you here.

“Most writers have totally unrealistic concepts of how publishing works.”

My November 6th NaNoWriMo Update

Well, as I said a couple of posts ago, I have taken on the challenge of National Novel Writing Month, which began on November 1st.  With a goal of 50,000 words by the end of the month, I have just over 11,000 words so far after six days. I’m feeling pretty good about that, but it has not been without its challenges.

The biggest challenge has been trying to adjust my writing habits. I am generally a linear writer, meaning I start at the beginning and I write the story straight through scene by scene to the end. I don’t like to write different scenes at different times and then go back and try to thread them all together like the way they film and edit movies. The reason this is a problem during this month is that I have in my head all of the major plot points of my novel, but my brain hasn’t decided how to get from each one to the next yet.  I’m using up a lot of valuable time thinking about direction and details between story beats.  If I could get myself to write all the major scenes first and link them together later, I might get to 50,000 words a lot sooner and have an easier time writing those connection sequences.  Old habits are hard to break, though.

Another struggle I’ve been having is that the first suggestion I read from every single person giving advice on NaNoWriMo has been to resist the urge to self-edit.  They say to just let the words spill out of your head and onto the page and worry about editing after the first draft is done.  Again, this isn’t how I usually do it.  Normally I make adjustments and edits as I go, not because I think this first draft will be the final one but because I frequently think of new ideas that modify certain elements of the story that I’ve already written.  I’d rather make the change now than have to worry about fixing it later on. Unfortunately, they say this takes time away from getting to the target word count and can often result in leaving great passages or ideas behind when they could have made the final product stronger. One fifth of the way in, I’m still self-editing, hate to admit.

Finally, I have to say that I really do feel good about the fact that I have made it to 11,000 words this quickly and I’m feeling pretty confident about being able to reach the goal before the 30th.  However, my inner critic has already been hard at work on me.  I feel like I have a few sparkles of genius so far, but mostly I’m thinking I have a lot of bland description, weak character development, and a much-too-passive protagonist. I am still pressing forward, but the critic and editor parts of my brain are nagging at me to go back and make some adjustments now.  Must…fight…urges…

My kids have a short story assignment that they have to do for their high school Creative Writing class, and my son has decided he wants to try to write something longer than that, so he’s been writing almost every day at the same time as me. His word count is not nearly where mine is right now, but he’s doing well for a kid who hasn’t really tried to do anything like this ever before.  I’m proud of him just for trying.

So anyway, that’s the status so far.  I hope everyone else out there who’s participating in NaNoWriMo is doing well.  Good luck everyone, and keep on writing!

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”