Friday, November 30, 2007

Lessons From NaNoWriMo

Right, its nearly midnight on the final day of NaNoWriMo, and I've fallen appalling short of my goal. I could make excuses for my poor preformance (too much work, not enough free time, lack of a computer) but I've decided that this would be waste of my time-- and yours!

Instead, I'm going to offer the insight I've learned this month and my future writing goals.

I'll always be too busy
For years I've whinged that I don't have enough time, energy, the drive, to sit down and write for hours after a very stressful day. However, what I've learned is that I personally thrive better under deadlines and stressful situations. I'm not sure why-- although, I suspect it forces me to focus more-- which I lack sorely. I'm most creative, passionate, organized, and insipired when I'm super busy and stressed for time. Bizarre. This said, I've finally accepted that I enjoy being too busy. So, if i want my creative life to balance with my busy 'other' life, I have to enforce some real boundaries on my time. NaNoWriMo, has forced me to do just this, and do you know what-- on the days when I stuck to my writing schedule I felt incredible. Yes, sometimes I had to resort to the word counter to help me pass the time-- but honestly, i enjoyed the process of creating the world of my 'novel'. If I've learned just one thing from NaNoWriMo, its that I can always make a little time for my writing-- and a little time goes a long way.

A Word Count Helps

I wouldn't have thought a word count would be my writing saviour-- but it is! On difficult days when I know the scene I'm writing is shit, the only thing that gets me through the scene and onto the next chapter is counting my words. Knowning that I had to reach a daily word count to stay on schedule forced me to write through the crap and explore the characters and story. Of course, I'll have to go back and edit out the crap (or as much as it as possible) but without a word count-- my daily goal-- i'd still be pouting and moaning over difficult scenes.

Writing/reading outside my comfort zone is good for my creativity
I read a lot of fiction. I enjoy getting sucked into the world of a good novel. To me, there's nothing better than hanging out in someone else world for a while (ok, usually for the tube journey home). But this month I've really pushed myself to read things outside of my normal comfort level. I've read about zombies, vampires, women on the verge of nervous breakdowns, I've read crime novels (which i never read), and historical fiction, as well as the daily papers, and non-fiction short works. I really feel that reading outside my normal range of novels/chick lit/children's lit and foraging in the darker realms of zombies, crime, historical fiction, and yes brilliant non-fiction has helped me to create more vivid characters and a richer plotline. Yay for variety.

Writing Buddies and Regular Buddies Shame You into Working Harder
Perhaps, 'shame' is too strong a word, but at times it felt that way. Whenever I wanted to completely chuck out portions of my work I was reminded of all the support and love my writing buddies (and FRIENDS) had been emailing me and I was compelled to work harder. I have been writing this novel for myself, but knowing that others out there were rooting me on made the process so much more rewarding. So THANK YOU! I promise you I will SUCCEDE in 2008!

I'm Signing Up For ANOTHER Month
Yes, I'm serious. As some of you know-- I haven't owned a computer in about a year. Its been a real struggle for me to actually sit down and write with a pen and paper-- my fingers type almost as fast as I can think-- but my handwriting lags behind. This has been my biggest excuse for slacking creatively. So, since we're purchasing one this weekend I've decided I'll be signing up for ANOTHER month of writing. I'm going to set the same task for myself (50,000 words) . I would like to end 2007 with a completed novel. So, beginning Dec 1st, I'm going to do this whole process all over again. I'm going to consider this my training for the marathon of writing that NaNoWriMo is. I wont have the support of a large community of people all working towards the same goal, but thanks to participating in NaNoWriMo, I know I'll always have the support of my friends and writing buddies. I will update you on my proccess as the month goes on. I may not have been able to finish NaNoWriMo 2007--but I'm certainly going to smash through the challenge in 2008! So watch this space.


Kirsty said...

Great idea! Shame December will be as busy as November... Will there ever be a perfect novel writing month?

Maverick said...

Yeah, I don't think there is ever a "perfect" time--you just have to get it done.

Minion said...

Yeah, I can't believe how busy December has been. Every year I forget what a nightmare month it is. All wel, I can safely say that I'm getting more done this month than I thought I would-- although, I don't think it will be a whole novel. There's always next NaNoWriMo.