So, NaNoWriMo is over. And I completed it. It took me just 21 days and I wrote a novel. I’m still in a state of disbelief that I did it. I finished it. I had had two miserable failures before so there was this niggling fear it would be too much for me to take on. Or that I really wouldn’t enjoy it and it would feel like another job.
A) It was a breeze to complete
B) I never had trouble finding time during the day to write. I only woke up early twice for the specific purpose of writing and never was up late to finish my daily word count.
C) I had SO MUCH FUN with it. I never realized how much pure joy and pleasure I derive from writing.
I thought for today I would share some lessons I learned during my journey to 50,000 words:
Writing comes naturally for me. I think there were maybe two days where it was a struggle to get the words down. (And this was mainly because I was also watching TV while writing. I am someone who needs complete silence to write.) I didn’t succumb to any type of writer’s block and the words flowed well. It helps that I knew I was writing this story for fun and it was my first novel so the pressure to write anything life-changing was off. I don’t think it’s one I’ll want to edit and try to get published. So I wrote for the specific purpose of just getting the words down and writing a novel. I wrote without an outline and it felt natural and true and right.
I need to outline. Yeah, so I wrote an entire post on writing without an outline and how I liked the process of it in early November. Remember? Which I think was fine for the purposes of this novel. For the type of novels I want write, they need to be around 100,000 words so I know I’ll need to outline the plot much more deeply so the character development happens more naturally. I think it will give me a more focused plot and conflict, as well.
I need to do more writing exercises. You know the ones I’m talking about. All those mundane writing exercises you had to do in high school English or college-level composition classes. The ones that seemed pointless and ridiculous. I never much liked them, really. They always seemed to be busy work and not a real reflection on the writing process. Well, folks, I’m here to tell you that your English teacher is not off her rocker. There is a reason for these writing exercises and they force you to take a good look at your surroundings and write about all those little details you otherwise miss. I plan on taking next year to read through One Year to Writing Life and gaining a better appreciation of writing and prose.
I take more mental pictures. I’ve found myself more deeply appreciative of nature and my surroundings. I’m studying the sky at different times of the day to memorize the colors and the way the clouds lay. I’m doing more people watching and eavesdropping on conversations and studying their nuances. One of my weaknesses in writing is scenery because it’s something I tend to skim when I’m reading novels myself. But I also know it helps readers to picture the story and the scene in their mind and it’s something I need to hone. I find myself more aware of where I am and what’s in front of me and what I hear and how I feel. All my senses are alive and I want to capture that and do more sensory writing activities.
I won’t write, unless I make myself. Well, duh. Knowing I had a deadline of writing 50,000 words in 30 days lit a fire in me to sit down every day, usually for an hour to an hour and a half, and hammer out 2,000 words. I work better under pressure, better under looming deadlines. Without them, I don’t know what to do with myself. I go months and months and months without writing anything. With my blog, I have put myself under a deadline of writing 3 posts a week. Using Google Calendar, I spend a few minutes at the beginning of every month creating a tentative blogging schedule and it keeps me focused on what I want to write about and since I’m a stickler for routine, it helps me keep my M/W/F schedule. I need that same schedule when it comes to my fiction writing. I need deadlines and word counts and routines. I want NaNo 2012 to be the turning point in my fiction writing, I don’t want it to stop here.
This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I enjoyed the process of writing so much. I know I’ve said it before but I was always a bit fearful of the actual writing process. I just loved creating plots and characters, writing backgrounds and daydreaming. I am a major research nerd and the research part of writing thrills me. With the story I wrote for NaNo, I went in with a vague idea of a plot and characters. I know my novel will showcase some inconsistencies based on the fact I didn’t use an outline or research anything at all. I just wanted to write the novel and what I discovered was how much I love writing. Pure love. And one day I will do this for a living.