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?

NaNoWriMo–or How November Might Kill Me

My trusty new journal says ‘She believed she could, so she did.’ Perfect for NaNoWriMo.

So you may have noticed that it’s been a little quieter than usual around here. That’s because I’m participating in my first ever NaNoWriMo (like so many things, it’s taken me a long time to jump on the bandwagon).

I’m no stranger to writing sprints, as on a good writing day I’ve been known to put in at least ten pages in three hours. But then I call it a day. I’m too easy on myself, probably because I’m worried that I’ll run out of ideas if I write them down too quickly, which so far hasn’t happened, but you never know. So my challenge doesn’t just involve finishing 50,000 words in a month, which is a mighty challenge in and of itself, but it’s also about finding time to write every day and for longer periods of time.

Therefore, I’m trying something new. I’m writing all 50,000 pages of my first draft on my new science fiction book in a notebook. Yes, by hand. And yes, my hand starts to hurt around five pages out of the seven to eight I’ve challenged myself to write every day. And yes, I could finish the challenge a lot faster if I just typed it out. But I’m enjoying the process of not getting it over with quickly. Since I’m lucky enough to be able to devote my whole day to writing, that’s what I’m trying to do. Today it took me six hours to write all eight pages, but those were eight pages I really had to think about. Every sentence has to be considered before it goes down onto the paper. There might be fewer of them, but something tells me they’re going to need less editing.

Unlike my last book, I’ve started this one with a much rougher idea of where it’s going, so every page is an exploration for me, and I get to see where it’s taking me instead of trying to march my characters from point A to point B. It’s sort of freeing. I have a rough idea of where I’m headed, but no real idea of how I’m going to get there. I love it. I love this whole process. I might start writing all my novels in one month sprints.

I’ll be posting my daily word count on twitter, so if you’re interested in how I’m proceeding be sure to follow me. If you want more details about my book, let me know and I’ll write something up. I’m going to try and keep up with my blogging, but if it gets quiet over here, you know what I’m doing.

Anyone else participating in NanNoWriMo this month? Anyone else like me and insanely trying to write their book by hand? Let me know how you’re doing and what kind of book you’re writing in the comments.