So, I’m about a month late giving this report, but it was actually part of a clever plan to increase your suspense! 😉 (That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.)
As I predicted in my NaNo mid-month report, I did not win NaNoWriMo this year. While that’s a bit disappointing, I can’t be too upset, because I did learn a lot from the experience. Here are a few treasures I gained from my month of noveling:
#1: I wrote 12,355 words of my novel.
It’s not 50,000, but hey, 12,000+ is a good-sized dent. If the full draft ends up being 100,000 words long, I’ve already written over a tenth of it.
Granted, most of what I wrote for NaNoWriMo will need serious revision later on, but some scenes came out so well that I may barely change them. Just having a start on my novel makes me feel more committed to the project and makes it easier for me to keep rolling with it!
#2: I got excited about my novel.
Not that I wasn’t excited before. But prior to NaNoWriMo, my brain was mostly in planning mode. Then, when I started writing the draft at the beginning of November, I felt daunted by the task of getting so many words on the page. I had a few frustrating writing sessions where I tried to force out paragraphs and chapters (those will probably need the most revision).
But after I’d been writing my novel for a couple of weeks, once the plot had been rolling around in my brain day and night, developing into something more solid, my excitement grew. The inspiration started flowing. A few scenes in particular came alive in my imagination, begging to get onto the page.
This may be the best thing that happened to me during NaNo: rising from all the planning and all the writers’ block, my novel finally came to life. And I’m in love with it. (Fortunately, it’s easier to make sacrifices for something you love.)
#3: I learned about my writing process.
Some of the most helpful advice I’ve gotten from published novelists is to learn your writing process. It’s easier to be an effective writer when you know the habits and situations that allow you to be most effective; otherwise, you’re just shooting in the dark and hoping you hit a moment of inspiration.
I have learned that I can make myself write, even when I feel blocked and uninspired. However, it is extremely difficult for me to write well when I don’t have the scene somewhat planned in my mind. I can make up some details as I go along, but the plot core of the scene has to be there, or I’m going to spend a lot of time staring at my computer screen instead of typing. Sometimes that’s just how it goes, but I’d like to avoid those situations as much as possible.
What this means for me is…sometimes I write chapters out-of-order. This was an unexpected revelation for me, because I’m usually very chronological when I write stories. But maybe that was my default because I hadn’t experimented with any other method. Or maybe a chronological approach works better when I’m writing something shorter. For this big novel, however, sometimes the scene that’s clearest in my head occurs in Chapter 15, and I’ve only just finished Chapter 2.
During NaNoWriMo, when I finally gave myself permission to write the scene uppermost in my mind, whether it was chronological or not, that’s when I felt the words flow best and my inspiration thrived. This is definitely a method I plan to continue using; why dampen my inspiration by forcing a scene to wait when it’s ready to get on the page now? Once the chapters are written, I can position them in order like pieces of a puzzle. (It helps that I already have a chapter outline, so I know where they go!)
#4: I’m not going to quit.
Writing time is hard to find—NaNo definitely reminded me of that. But now that I’m immersed in this novel, I’m not going to give it up. God willing, I’m going to hang on tight and keep getting down words during the minutes and hours I can grab. I intended to use NaNoWriMo as a jump-start for writing this novel, and that’s just what happened.
As I head into 2019, I’m planning to be more disciplined about carving out writing time for myself, even when the rest of life doesn’t want to let me. We’ll see how it goes! Thanks for joining me on the journey.