Confessions of a NaNoWriMo survivor

Today, I swapped out stories on my Episode of the Week page. It is now the first part of the second tale in the series of Tales of Myrick the (Not So) Magnificent. It is one of my favorites. Initially, I wrote it for an anthology that accepted it and then didn’t happen. I’m glad it didn’t since it meant I kept the rights to it. I like this story mainly because it has one of my favorite characters I’ve ever created in it: Nonac the Barbarian. Yes, he is a spoof of Conan (see what happens when you switch the first and last letters). I had to make Nonac the opposite of Conan, though, by having him be a cheerful optimist instead of the gloomy, doom-filled barbarian we all know and love. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

So, I finished NaNoWriMo with over 60,000 words for the month of November. I’d done NaNo several other times in the past. In fact, my first book, Dragon War Relic, was the result of trying NaNo for the first time. This year was the first time where I officially did it by creating a profile at NaNoWriMo.org and updating my word count daily. Here are some of my observations:

Pros:

It is fun to type in the daily count and see your progress. It is a good motivator to help you want to keep going and shoot for that 50,000 word goal. There is also a community, which I didn’t really get involved with, that can give encouragement.

There is also something to just sitting down and writing without stopping to think much. In fact, it was that approach that enabled me to finish my first novel where I’d tried many times before but always got bogged down around chapter five because I wanted to go back and fix everything. It is fun to just sit down and let stream of conscience flow through your fingers and not stopping to fix every little mistake.

Cons:

They would send emails that were supposed to be encouraging but to me were a little insulting. Things like, “We know you can do it. Don’t give up. You’re on your way to becoming a real novelist!” You know that kind of stuff. Well, for someone like me who has written almost 20 books and had 9 of them published, it was kind of irritating. Also, the messages like, “If you donate to us it will help you finish your novel.” Uh, yeah, and how’s that?

Even though I mentioned it as a Pro above, with my current writing style I think it ended up adding a bunch of work. I think I now need to go back and fix things as I think about them. I couldn’t have done that at first since I didn’t know how nor have the confidence to finish a novel. Now that I know I can do it, it would help my during editing if I could. NaNoWriMo, in order to hit the daily word count, discourages this because it will slow you down. Speed is great, but sometimes speed can kill your story, too. Like my project, Jaysan and the Jazz Monkeys, took on a whole different personality than I planned.

What I learned:

I don’t think I can ever stay on an outline. I tried this time but my improvisatory nature kept taking me off course. I think I have a good kernel of a story, though, but it is going to need major reconstructive surgery, more so than some of my other recent works. Of course, Dragon War was like that, too. The finished product was nothing like the first draft.

Something else I learned is that I write scenes faster than sequels. I can type like crazy when my characters are in the middle of the action, but how to have them react to it and think about it when things calm down requires me to slow down and think. I guess that makes sense.

Yeah, and as mentioned above, I wish I could have stopped and rethought things and come up with new outlines as new things arouse during the writing process. It would slow me down to taking two months to write a novel instead of one, but I think there would be a lot less reworking of the plot like my current story is going to need.

So, anyone else have some lessons or thoughts from NaNoWriMo? Did you enjoy it? Do you hate it? Do you still not know what the cabbage it is? Do ahead and drop me a note if you do.

 

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