Reflections on NaNoWriMo

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Done for another year. Last year was the first year I participated in NaNoWriMo, so it was interesting to do it again and see if the same things happened as last year. Yep, they did.

Writing frantically, every day for 30 days, means there isn’t time for editing. Last year was difficult because first, I’m a short story writer, and second, I tend to edit as I go. I didn’t think I could write a novel of 50,000, but I did it last year, and again this year, so last year wasn’t a fluke.

The other thing I found interesting is that my novels didn’t go where I wanted them to go, and people and events crept in when I wasn’t paying attention. This year, I wanted to write a history of the Divine Sisterhood of Animal Magick, which was something I came up with in a short story. I thought I would start way back in the Dark Ages to show how the sisterhood started and then write vignettes about the sisterhood and its members at different times in history. Silly me!! I should have known better! These were to be people taken in as young girls and tested for their ability to talk to animals, and how they were treated, etc. But I ended up with People who are Magic, and can either time travel or live forever as each vignette had the same characters. And that wasn’t being lazy, as I had all the names for each time period picked out.

There were also storms at sea, and storms on land, and a ship getting blown off course during a hurricane and ending up in the New World. And when I came up with a name for the ‘castle’ in North Wales where it all began I was kinda spooked to find out there really is a ‘castle’ with that name, and it was built in the 16th Century. 

So now I don’t plan to write at all during December. I will catch up on the stack of books waiting to be read, and the blogs that need to be read and commented on, and the new followers and commenters on my blogs that need to be acknowledged, and the list goes on. In january, I will go back to editing last year’s novel and start editing this year’s. And I will probably do some research that I should have done in September and October. But it’s hard to do research if I don’t know where the novel is going to take me.

And yes, I’ll do it again next year.

🙂

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Aside

November is…

…National Novel Writing Month! Affectionately shortened to NaNoWriMo, or even just NaNo, it is a month of pure writing with no editing. The goal is to write a minimum 50,000 word novel. Considering that the standard average is 250 words/page, that’s a 200 page book; not very long really, but it’s a start. Of course, most of the participants don’t stop at 50,000 words; that’s just a goal, and that works out to 1,667 words every day.

NaNo is a program of the Office of Letters and Light, a non-profit dedicated to helping people write, including programs in schools to get kids to write. If you want more information about their programs, check out their website here: http://www.lettersandlight.org/

I participated last year for the first time and made my goal with a couple of days to spare. The hardest part for me was the not-editing part. Whenever I write, I have to fix typos and grammatical errors as soon as I see them, so stopping myself from doing that was really, really, hard. But then I discovered that in the past, I had used the editing as a stalling tactic, because it definitely interrupts the flow of the story. I went into NaNo thinking I couldn’t do it as I had only ever written short stories (and some very bad adolescent poetry!) So I surprised myself with how I was able to sit down and just write.

I know there are some writers who start with a plan and an outline, then flesh it out with characters, and timelines, and all sorts of details about what happens to whom and when. I’m a percolating pantser when I write; I have an idea percolating in the back of my brain for a while, but when I actually sit down to write, it’s a seat-of-the-pants kind of thing. (There was quite a discussion on the NaNo Forums about different methods of writing – very interesting!) I have tried the planning and the outlines, but it’s basically a waste of time, because as soon as I start writing, the characters take over and go, do, and say, whatever they want, not what I want.

So I will do it again this year. This time I have a plan of sorts; I at least know what I will write about. Last year, I sat staring at a blank screen until about Day 4. So beginning November 1st, I’ll be frantically writing every day when I get home from work, and all day on weekends and Holidays. And hopefully, I’ll have another story ready to edit by the time December 1st rolls around.