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NaNoWriMo 2009 Afterthoughts

Whew! NaNoWriMo is over and I’m sort of … sad? It’s funny how your mind can change from fear and uncertainty at the beginning of the month, to the complete opposite at the end. Well, I suppose that’s not true if you don’t win but lucky for me, I did! I didn’t think I’d make it, but I came out alive with a word count of 50,203.

What did I learn from the month long experience? A lot! It’s not easy sitting down and writing anything that long and I’m sure the first time you do it is always the worst. Here’s a few things I learned along my journey.

  • If it’s your first time (or maybe second, third, whatever) you probably want to make this as easy on yourself as you can. I started with a story idea but it felt like I was dragging it out of my head through a swamp. Six days into the process, I dropped that story and changed subjects to something I’m very comfortable with. I think the worst thing you could do on your first try is venture down a road that you’re not familiar with. Simply changing subjects helped me write a lot faster and the story sort of just came out.
  • Ditch the editor. It’s SO hard to try to not think about what you’re writing but you must! Early on it’s a bit of a chore but you must put your head down and run past that mean old editor! Once you get used to pouring words onto a page without the editor’s interference, you become a lot more relaxed.
  • One thing I didn’t do was plan anything out. I had a piece of paper with some character names scribbled on it and that’s about it. If I had it to do over again, I might like to plan out the scene of the novel a bit more, re-think the characters and the number of them (I have WAY too many nameless characters in my novel), and maybe think about how I want it to end. I like to leave the middle open for the characters to weave their own story, but my ending sucks!
  • Don’t lose track of your characters! I have at least 4 scenes where I started out with 2 characters and ended up just focusing on one. I would be three thousand words in before I realized I had lost the other guy in my memory. Oops! Again, probably something I could have avoided with a little planning.
  • If you have a day where you really get in the groove of writing, wring as much of that out as you can! There are enough days where you struggle that it’s worth it. I did find that those days where I struggled, sometimes just hammering through a few hundred words would get things flowing nicely.

I guess that’s the basics. In the end, I have a novel that I wrote myself and even though I know it’s poorly written and needs major work to be good enough to share with anyone, I’m still extremely proud of myself and looking forward to editing it. I even started a new novel, imagine that!

To all the winners, congrats. To all those who tried, there’s always next year. Keep hammering at it!