A NaNoWriMo Retrospective

So I’m now coming down off the NaNoWriMo writing high, and I must say that it is nice to shower and get dressed before noon or leave the house without feeling like the world is ending, but in a way it’s bittersweet too. It’s so easy to fall back into not-writing. Writing comes naturally, but not writing does too, and after a month of writing 2/3 of a novel by hand, I want a little break. So I’ve cleaned my apartment. I’ve scheduled some blog posts. I’ve made a dinner that took more than half an hour to come to fruition. And it’s very nice. But it’s also nice to write for 8 hours a day, to have an almost complete first draft of a book. I’m excited for next year. I might have to do drafts like this more than once a year and then spend the rest of the year editing. I thrive under deadlines.

It’s definitely an intimidating prospect, 50,000 words in a month, but I’m good with goals. Once I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo, I had no question about my ability to meet the deadline. I was determined to meet it, and I did–that’s just how I am. But it is a huge prospect, and most people are not able to spend so much time in their pursuit of it. I want to raise a glass (filled with the liquid of your choice) to anyone who participated, whether you won or not. In my opinion, you won if you chose to put writing first, if you put time and energy into what had previously been just a passing fancy, if you worked hard developing your story and your skills. You are amazing!

I think one of the most powerful lessons to take away from NaNoWriMo is the power of persistence. To meet this word count, you have to develop a forward momentum. If you look backward, you’ll be discouraged, you’ll strip away words instead of building them up. The best thing is to use that old improv adage “yes, and” because you’re looking for a number, a high number, of words. This is not the time for logic, for tight phrasing, or for editing. This is about word vomit. You’ll discover new things that are better than what you’d written before, and you have to make a note and move on. The momentum is essential, but it’s the most difficult part.

November might be over, but it’s not too late to make writing a priority. The new year is right around the corner and it’s time to make a writing resolution. If you start in December, think how much easier it’ll be to carry that momentum into the new year! My resolution is to have two novels ready to attract elusive agents by the middle of next year. What’s yours?

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