Saturday, October 29, 2011

No More NaNoWriMo

In honor of Halloween: I'm baa-aack! I know, scary.

Anyway, I thought, since so many people are gearing up for NaNoWriMo next month that I'd give my two bits on the subject. You don't know what NaNoWriMo is? Stinks to be you. No, just kidding. It is an abbreviation for National Novel Writing Month. It is where writers and aspiring writers challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word or more novel during the 30 days of November. There are websites and social groups that get together to help those people meet their goals and stick to task.

I did this back in 2005 for the first time. From that 50,000 word jumble of chaos, I ended up with the beginnings of my first published novel, The Dragon War Relic. I learned a lot of great things about myself during my experience. Probably the most important thing was: what it takes to write a novel. It takes a lot of time and patience and persistence. But, if you take the time, it can be done; that was the next most important lesson. There is a great sense of pride when we take on a difficult task and persevere long enough to create a finished novel.

I've written about his before, but I also learned that I'm a discovery writer. I think NaNoWriMo caters more to discovery writers because you're just supposed to sit down and start writing come what may. And no looking in the rear view mirror and going back to fix things. Since then, of course, I have learned that if you want character arcs and plots that make sense, there does need to be some kind of planning. Oh, and it is okay to have an outline to do it, but not necessary. Fortunately for me, I didn't.

As much as I honor NaNoWriMo for the start it gave me, I don't think I'll ever do it again. Why? Because it taught me how to focus and write. I can now do that whenever I want and for however long I want. When I'm in my normal writing mode, I put out about 12,000 to 15,000 words a week anyway, which is about a NaNoWriMo pace. I don't need to see how many words I can write in a month because I now know. Just last month I completed a novel and the second draft within 30 days. Of course, I'm not always going at that pace because I also have to take the things I've drafted and then polish them up in hopes of publication. In fact, the second draft usually takes me longer than the first because I have to spend a lot of time working out some of the issues and plot holes that I discover.

So, if you aren't a writer yet and want to be, NaNoWriMo can be the right kick in the pants to get you started. Just remember to be nice to your family and take a break every now and then to let your creative juices get flowing again.


Karen Jones Gowen said...

I do best when I have to focus and write a novel in a month. I try to do it in June and November. In between I'm revising and editing. Before I did NaNo I took way too long to finish, so it's ideal for a procrastinator like myself. I envy you for being able to discipline yourself to focus on a regular basis. I'm still working on that one!

. said...

I admire people who can write that much at a time. The shortest it's taken me is 11 months to write the first word through the beta readers and edits to completed novel--and even then, I thought I was going quickly!

Berin Stephens said...

Well, I should also add that part of the reason for my production is I'm blessed with a great schedule right now. I can write for 2 to 3 hours in the morning before I start teaching music lessons in the afternoon.