NaNoWriMo 2017: Check!

I finished the 50k word NaNoWriMo writing challenge yesterday, and here are my impressions of the experience:

Time Management

This was a lot of work, but ultimately not as difficult as I expected it to be as long as I stayed on track with my daily word count goal (2k), and only missed the days that I knew in advance I would have to. I often could not begin writing until late in the evening, which was frustrating on many days when my energy was low, but usually doable. The better days were when I could find an hour or two to write earlier, when I had more energy. As long as I always pushed myself to write the 2,000 words at some point in the day, I found the goal to be challenging, but very possible.

The Positive:

I got a LOT of writing done in a much shorter time than I usually do, and learned a great deal about managing my time to fit in the writing without putting strain on my family and other responsibilities.

I felt the freedom to be descriptive. I usually tend to not overindulge in descriptions too much, at least at the beginning when I have a plot to drive, but I knew that I would need them in this draft to help me picture my world thoroughly and early in the process. The challenge will be deciding what to cut and what to keep in later drafts.

I am a little addicted to updating my word-count and checking my stats on the website. It’s a strangely satisfying motivator!

And of course, I experienced a highly satisfying sense of accomplishment as I watched my word count climb. 😊

The Less Positive:

I struggled with feeling like I was rushing the process in pursuit of my word count goal. I thought that I had prepared enough, but after a while I began to feel that, although my plot had an arc, my outline was not detailed enough. This usually doesn’t bother me when I’m writing at a slower pace, because I have the freedom to discover the subplots as I go, but it was difficult to find the time to focus on both plot evaluation and actual writing.

Additionally, I frequently felt that my characters were not where I wanted them to be, and it was probably from a lack of attention during my prep stage, and a sense of urgency to keep moving forward.

What Did I Learn?

I learned a lot about managing my time in order to meet my goal, and that I am capable of achieving a high word count quickly. In general, preparation is not my strong suit, so If I plan to move very swiftly through the first draft of a manuscript, I need to remember that there will be less time to plot along the way. A clearer picture in my mind beforehand will help the process immensely.

Would I Do it Again?

Yes! If I happen to be ready to begin another manuscript at the start of November, and manage to do some adequate preparation, I will definitely do it again. It was a great way to kick off a new manuscript. I am happy with where I am in the manuscript right now, and excited to keep going. The story is far from done – the draft is probably about 65% complete, but I plan on multiple revisions.

Now, I plan to slow down a bit and make sure I am satisfied with the direction of my plot and characters, and then continue on and hopefully keep up the momentum that began with NaNoWriMo.

 

Advertisements

November is for Novelists

I’m excited to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year! I’ve only done it very half-heartedly a couple of times in the past, as it never lined up well with the writing schedule I was on, or life in general, but in spite of a full schedule this month, I couldn’t stay away. I’ve got a new project I’ve been thinking over, so now I’m ready to do this thing and clock in as high a word count as I can crank out.

Here are a few things I’ve learned, that I hope will help keep me productively creative during this crazy month:

Details:

An area of personal struggle for me when I write is descriptive detail. I used to bury myself in it when I didn’t know how to proceed with the plot, and my story would eventually sputter out and go nowhere. So, I finally learned to cut through that instinct and jump into the story. This forced me to plot more effectively, both before actually writing, and in notes as I went along. I found that my story moved along faster and I had less excess to cut in revisions when I didn’t let my writing get bogged down with overly thorough descriptions.

However, I believe that part of the reason I curbed my instinct to describe was because of a slight sense of panic that I would lose my forward momentum and the story would go flat. While this might be a risk, it’s not a good reason to suppress writing that could serve your story.  I found, when I backed off on descriptive detail in draft one, that I occasionally had more work to do in revisions because my world-building was weak from a lack of rich and layered groundwork, or I struggled to picture something later on that ought to have been established in my mind already. As much as it hurts to have to cut so much when it’s time to cull your word-count, it’s always better to have more to work with rather than less.

So, how does this relate to NaNoWriMo writing methods? Well, we’re clearly seeking an abundance of material to put on the page very quickly, so what better material than that which will help our world come alive to us throughout the process, regardless of if we will want or need all of that description in later, more polished drafts? As long as our plotting remains strong and our path forward is clear, I think we should take this opportunity to write our scenes, characters, and our worlds in rich, colorful detail. NaNoWriMo is an invitation to let go of what stalls you, and write freely.

Soon, your creation will spring to life in your head, and you’ll be flying.

Keep Moving Forward!

Of course, I already stated, the risk you take when embracing your inner prolific prose monster is that you could get bogged down and lose your way. Always keep the goal of each scene and how it will serve the next scene (and ultimately the whole story) in the front of your mind. Keep organized notes so that you can continue to surge ahead, knowing that you have a different job to do in revisions.

Keep the beacons lit and your path will remain clear. Don’t give up, Frodo.

Write Any Time, Any Place:

This has been a hard one for me to embrace. I have three small children, so while writing in silence is a massively helpful, it is unrealistic for me to believe that it’s the only way I’ll ever get anything done. If I wait for peace and quiet, not only will my story take forever to complete, but there’s no point in me striving for that shining 50k in the month of November!

Take your time when you can, and don’t panic or stress. But give yourself the freedom to try to write whenever you think it might work out. And give yourself grace when it just doesn’t. When you open yourself up to this, you realize that there actually is a lot more time in the day than you thought.

Speaking of, I’m going to stop blogging now because…NaNoWriMo. Thanks for reading, and please share your NaNoWriMo tips!

Peace.