It’s December 1st. Which means that my first NaNoWriMo is over. It’s been an interesting experience.
First of all, my final word count is 15,689. Not nearly the 50,000 it’s supposed to be, but it beats my own personal record by about 14,000 words, so I consider it a HUGE success!
As far as the novel itself goes… no one will ever read it. I look at it and my heart cringes. I’m not exaggerating… it is AWFUL. Honestly, I had a really hard time continuing to write. I reached a certain point in my novel and I had to stop because I had no idea what to write next. Nothing made sense. So I just kept making things up. It was painful.
But I learned a few things from this experience.
1) I am not naturally a marathon writer, but that doesn’t mean I can’t write an extensive work. The key is…
2) I must organize and have a clear idea ahead of time of what the story will look like, from start to finish. I’ve heard so many authors say that you can’t plan ahead; you just have to see what happens and let your characters do what they do. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for me (call me a control freak or whatever). I need to approach writing fiction the same way I approach writing papers: outline, outline again in more detail, outline again in more detail, and finally write. When I realized this I remembered that I’d heard of some cool software programs that are designed to help you plan your novel. So I researched and I learned that…
3) Scrivener is awesome. I love that you can plan out each chapter and have a “bulletin board” where you can organize all your ideas. I love that when you start a scene you still see the little “index card” that keeps you reminded of where this scene is supposed to go. Some people find structure confining. I find it freeing. I should’ve started NaNoWriMo with this mindset in the first place, because it’s part of my personality. I like liturgy and desk organizers and Scrivener.
So I say that the end of NaNoWriMo is the beginning because I’ve already started another story, and I’m very excited about it. I’ve got it all planned out in Scrivener and I’ve started writing a few scenes. Already I’ve started adding more scenes as I get more ideas, but so far my overall outline is intact. I don’t care how long this takes me, but I will say that the one thing I’ll miss about NaNoWriMo is the motivation. Every day that I didn’t write, it was a choice I made. I knew I was doing NaNoWriMo and I was supposed to write; I just chose not to. Now it will be harder because I don’t have a deadline making me feel guilty when I don’t write or anything keeping me accountable. So I will learn how to keep myself accountable.
I hope that all other NaNos out there had a good experience as well, and I wish you the best in continuing your writing endeavors!