Monday, December 10, 2012

Thoughts on NaNo

Okay, so it's like a week late, but NaNo is done... and I FINISHED!  Well, I finished my 50,000 word deadline, not my novel.  In fact, I am maybe 40% done with my novel, which means I will have a TON of editing to do.  Or I will be writing more than one book.  Either way, I haven't done a thing since I finished on November 29th (I actually finished EARLY, now there's something completely unusual for me!)

I took a week off (mostly) on purpose.  NaNo was, for lack of a better word, intense.  It was a month full of mini-deadlines, as any night I didn't write my 1,667 words, I knew it would need to be made-up.  It would have been so easy to let the words pile up and then quit, but I am pretty excited I made it through the month, and even more so, that I actually enjoyed the month!  A month of being "forced," to write was just what I needed.  Even better, a month with a free pass not to worry about editing at all, well that was the best.  Well, it was the best while I was doing it, now it's going to be a nightmare!

Truth is, I literally haven't read a single word I wrote last month.  In fact, I'm a little scared to read anything I wrote last month.  Whether what I wrote was good or not, (probably mostly not good) the month was worth it.  I loved writing my story and I am really hoping to finish it soon.  However, the idea is daunting.  I think it will be harder to get myself motivated to write now, than it was during NaNo.  Not only do I need to finish the story, but I know how much editing is awaiting me.  Which is probably why I haven't picked up my story since November 29th.

All in all, I am glad I did NaNo, but I did learn a few things about my writing.

1.  I really should try to outline before I write.  Yeah, I know some people like to be "pantsers," and write as they go (Disclosure: I did not make up the term, "pantsers."  They actually use this on the NaNo forum and it made me laugh every time.)  Anyway, I should not be one of those people.  It resulted in the beginning of my story being WAY too long and I haven't even gotten to the meat of the action.  This is only going to make editing that much more fun;

2.  I really need to outline my characters.  My book has 2 main characters, but 7-8 fairly prominent supporting characters.  That's a lot.  Next time I really need to come up with sheets that have notes on what each character looks like and their background story.  It would be easier than going back to see what name I chose.  (I had to do this more than once- seriously, it was like naming a child, I had the hardest time deciding on names and then I couldn't remember what I had finally chosen.  Not that I've forgotten my kid's names.  Well...);

3.  I need to find some writing buddies.  I think one of the greatest things about NaNo is the community of writers (this year 300,000) who are going through the same things you are, at the same time.  It helped keep me motivated to know other people were working on their books at the same time; and

4.  Social media is a complete distraction.  In some ways it is amazing.  The YA community has a strong presence on social media, probably not surprising as the readers are all young and into technology.  Authors, bloggers and book lovers interact a ton, especially on twitter.  Twitter is a TIME SUCK.  I'm not exaggerating.  I could get lost on it and I often did.  While it's important to make connections throughout the whole process, I think it's easy to get distracted as well.  So I think I will be setting "work hours," where I block out social media (there are actually apps that do this!)

So now that NaNo is done... now what?  I am trying to make a game plan for what to do next.  Here are my options:

1.  Continue like it's NaNo and get my story done first and then worry about editing;

2.  Stop where I am and go back to start editing to make things clearer from here on out;

3.  Put this story away for now and come back to it at another point (I keep taking notes on ideas for other stories... which keep trying to seduce me away from finishing what I've started); or

4.  Put off making any decisions and just passively not write for awhile.

Okay, I'm not really considering option 4, but I can see how easy it would be to fall into that one.  Truth is, I have like a million things I want to read that I put off all last month.  Some books, but some were blog posts by authors talking about "how they write," and giving a lot of tips on technical aspects (wish these were posted before NaNo!)  Additionally, one author I really liked recommended any new writers read a book on writing novels before starting to write.  So I'm trying to figure out if it would be helpful to read this and then continue, or just continue.

In the end, I will probably do a combination of 1 & 2.  I think I'll go back to take a few notes on my characters so I can have a more cohesive second half of the book, but not worry about major editing until I'm done.  In the future, I am definitely going to outline though, I hate the idea of being that organized (it's contrary to everything about me) but, I think it's going to only help me keep on track.

So here's hoping that December will be a successful month... even though it's already the 10th and I haven't started writing!

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