This is a different sort of five things … these five things are all about NaNoWriMo!
I don’t remember when I heard about NaNoWriMo, but according to my page I’ve been a member for about 5 years, so I imagine it was 5 NaNoWriMos ago.
Last year I decided that I was going to be a participant for the first time. I started off really well, my idea made me excited which was great, but then around day 13, with almost six thousand words written, I lost steam. This year, when I decided that I would do NaNoWriMo again I wanted to try to learn from my mistake from last time and do better. Now that I have completed my 50,000 words goal, I can say that I’ve learned a lot about what I thought my writing style was and what my style actually is, and I have to say that I’m a little surprised!
So, here are five things that I learnt while doing NaNoWriMo:
- I’m not a plotter. I have ideas, and most of them are half baked. I know how I want something to start, and I have a general idea about how I want something to end, but I don’t necessarily have a clue as to what happens in the middle of these things and I realized that it’s OK. Last year I tried to map the story out beforehand, this year I decided to write whatever came to mind and I found more inspiration when I allowed myself to have more freedom.
- Last year I tried to make my characters do what I wanted them to do and a lot of times that meant that I didn’t know what they wanted. I know it sounds strange, but this year I let them do whatever they wanted to do and sometimes they surprised me. Now before you check me into a mental institute, I think the idea here is the same as above, letting the story flow as opposed to controlling the story actually works better for me.
- The rule of absolutely NO editing was important in helping me move forward. There are people who can go back through their NaNoWriMo manuscript in November and move things around and add and remove things and still finish on time. I am not one of those people. When I do that the perfectionist in me takes over and I want to make the piece I’m editing perfect and that slows me down.
There were times in this manuscript when I was cringing at my dialogue because I thought it was too cheesy or awkward and I had to stop myself from going back and re-writing large amounts of texts because, in the end, NaNoWriMo is about writing and meeting a goal, I would have 11 months to edit, to update dialogue and fix inconsistencies.
- I needed to talk to people about my story and what I’m doing. It was easy for me to keep last year’s project quiet. I don’t usually talk to people about my creative endeavors. I did tell a couple of writers what I was trying to do and they were encouraging but this year I went big. I told almost everyone I could whenever it came up in conversation. “So what have you been up to?” “Well, I’m attempting to write a novel in 30 days.” I found that this actually helped me. The more people I told the more real the task became until I knew that I would disappoint myself if I didn’t complete it.
- This year I wanted to finish it because I wanted to finish. I know that sounds strange but I’ve attempted to write down stories many times, but I never finished them. This year I decided that I wanted to finish something so that I can show myself that I can write a first draft – even if it never sees the light of day.
I think the most important thing I learnt throughout this exercise was that writing makes me happy. It was stressful, I spent a lot of time doing it but never once did I regret it, writing always brought me joy.