Wednesday, December 3, 2014

7 Lessons I Learned During NaNoWriMo

In case you haven't been keeping up via my blog, Facebook, or Twitter, I had a rough go of it this time around for NaNoWriMo.

This was the hardest year I've had yet. That's including the years where I had randomly stopped writing for a week or two at a time. Which means it was ridiculously hard. It frustrated me to no end. I loved this story idea! There was so much potential! But by the last half of the month I felt like I was pulling teeth to try and get words onto the page. Granted, I had a lot of adjustments I had to make for NaNoWriMo this year.

- Instead of living in Missouri in my own apartment, I was living at home. This definitely changed up the dynamic of my writing process!
- I didn't have a whole lot of writing buddies. I fully intended to go to write ups, but nothing ever worked with my schedule. Then my other writing buddies lived far away. We were able to do some chatting about our stories, but it wasn't the same as being in the same room.
- I started a new job in the middle of the month. This took up a lot of my writing time I had at the beginning of the month and put on some extra stress that distracted me from writing.

However, in spite of all of this, I still ended November with 50,115 words. Not my best number by any means. But I still got 50,000 words and that's what counts!

I still learned a lot about myself and my writing though through this process - even if it was painful at times.

1) All authors go through times when they hate their writing. The pep talks from the NaNoWriMo site by published authors just confirmed that. It's totally normal to sit there and think "This story is awful. My writing is awful. Everything is awful. I should just quit right now." But they get through it and keep going.

2) You can't edit what's not written. That really is part of the point of NaNoWriMo. Yes, your story might be terrible - but you can't edit it and make it better unless you have something written down. I had several friends via text and Twitter tell me to keep going and that it's okay to have an awful rough draft. That's what a rough draft is.

3) The vision I had for my story wasn't a novel - it was a stage production. If I decide to keep going with this story, it's going to need to be in a stage format. This is completely terrifying and some major adjusting will have to be done. But I really do think it would be better on stage than in a novel.

4) Planning is my friend. Part of my issue was that I hadn't thought it out well enough. I knew this going into November but decided to push through anyway. Some people are amazing at being able to "pants" their way through a story. I can to an extent - but I love my outlines! I need my outlines to at least give me a guideline of where I need to go.

5) Write with the ending in mind. This kind of goes with what I said before about planning. I really didn't know much about how my story was going to end. Sometimes this is okay, but I usually need an idea so I know where I'm going. I didn't know where my story was going so it floundered.

6) Being behind is a lot harder than I realized. So many times I try to encourage people even when they think they have no hope of winning. Or I cheer them on when they don't get the word count by the end of the month. When I got to points when I wasn't sure I was going to get to 50k, I realized that some of my encouragements in the past were really lame. Not doing well during NaNoWriMo sucks. Yes, you're still a "winner" just by getting words on the page. It's still awesome and an accomplishment, but it sucks to not know if you'll make it or not.

7) Fantasy and paranormal is my fiction "sweet spot." I can do realistic fiction, and that's great. But fantasy and paranormal is where I really get into it. It is my favorite genre and I missed it SO MUCH during November. I can't wait to get back to my project from last year and get that all polished and wonderful because I missed those characters and that story like WOAH.

How did you all do during NaNoWriMo? What did you learn this past month?

Also - here's my video for the day!

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