This year was my first attempt at NaNoWriMo, that thing where a whole lot of people try to write a 50,000 word novel in November. I didn’t get to 50,000 words, I managed 40,634. This is not a bad accomplishment in a month when I also did a whole lot of stuff, so much stuff that I told some of my friends that life exploded on me one week in November. Life didn’t explode in a bad way, but it was a little too much stuff all at once. I did learn some things from my NaNo attempt. Here they are:
1. Writing energizes me. One weekend when I had far too much social contact (I am pretty introverted and need lots of alone time) I wrote almost all of Sunday afternoon and evening. I felt energized by the writing. I wasn’t expecting that. It was a good thing.
2. I can mostly turn my internal editor off. It takes a little bit of work, but I can do it. I admit that there was grammar and punctuation in my novel — I can’t quite eliminate that — but I didn’t go back and edit the way I felt I wanted to a lot of the time.
3. I liked what I was writing. When I’ve tried writing fiction in the past it hasn’t sounded right to me, too fake, too put on, like I was trying too hard. Probably I was trying too hard. This time I just relaxed and wrote. I think this made a big difference in how the writing sounded to me.
4. Novels are not written in one draft. Novels take a lot of thought about structure and character and plot. I knew this from the reading side (reading both good and bad novels), but now I know this from the writing side. It is easy to forget a character’s name and change it part way through a book. I scoff when this happens in a published work that I read, and I still think a good edit should catch that, but now I realize how easy it is for inconsistencies in the story to appear.
Conclusion: I am definitely going to try this again next year. And in the mean time, I will continue working on what I started this year. Really. I will.
How about you? What will you do now that NaNo is done?