Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Can NaNo Do For You?

I'm back! Sort of. I'm leaving Friday for the New Jersey/Philadelphia area and I will be gone for a week! I'm still debating if I should bring my lap top with me or leave it behind (NooOooOo!!! *sobs* *clutches Blanche to chest desperately*).

Anyways, I was busy the month of November writing a book for NaNoWriMo (it was my first time), which was a thrilling, crazy, lovely, and exasperating experience. The important thing, despite all my bipolar-ness, was that I learned some things during the month and I would like to share them with the rest of you.

Here are the things that NaNo taught me this year.

1. Pre-plotting helps. A LOT! I didn't outline the entire thing, but I knew a few things. Namely: the main character's primary goal, the flaw (see The Goal the Flaw and the Plotting Master of the Universe ), a few of the key plot points, and I had an idea of what I wanted to happen at the end. It was a new experience for me, writing and knowing where I was going. There were still things that came up that surprised me, and there were still a few times I got off track and had to realign myself, but all in all I had less wrong turns than my usual drafting process. I am currently plotting my next novel, and I intend to have even MORE things figured out before I start drafting. Sometime in the near future, I will share with all you lovely people what works/doesn't work for me as far as outlining in the hopes that it will help someone else out there in the blogosphere. In the past, as a fairly novice writer, I had a really hard time working things out before sitting down and drafting. But NaNo helped convince me that outlining DOES make writing easier. And there are still things you learn and experience during the drafting process, so it doesn't take away the creative juice and flow like you might think.

2. I'm not a bad writer. I'm not necessarily a good writer, either, and there were sections of the novel that were so horrific they brought me back to my early days of horrible, painstakingly derivative writing. However, forcing myself to write every day, I noticed something important. My writing style improved as NaNo progressed. I also had a revelation: nothing you write - no matter how bad - is a waste of time. With every page, you are learning something or growing as a writer. The book I wrote for NaNo will probably never see the light of day. But the next book I write will be better because of my NaNo experience.

William Faulkner said, "Get it down. Take chances. It may be bad, but it's the only way you can do anything really good."

3. I CAN find time to write.  Even with a full time job, two kids, a somewhat needy husband, Thanksgiving, friends, family, and birthday parties at Chucky Cheese getting in the way. Sure, the laundry piled up and the dishes weren't always getting done, but I still managed to eck out an average of 1667 words per day throughout the month of November. There were a couple days that I barely wrote anything, and then I had to make it up later, but I found a way to do it. I locked myself in my bedroom with explicit instructions to leave me alone. I took a day off work and spent the majority of it writing. I woke up ten minutes earlier than usual every day so I would have extra time to write. And most importantly, I got rid of my internal editor. Not because I wanted to, but because I had to. If I didn't, I never would have made the goal.
How was your NaNo experience? Did you win? Did you cry? Did you want to vomit sometimes? Leave me a comment and share! Or stalk me on twitter! (I like that. Probably too much.)


  1. EPIC FAIL for me. But, I quit my job during November, so it was a very good month overall. I do have 20,000 words to go on...not half bad. I am proud of you, Mary, for seeing it through! You rule the known universe and all the goats contained within it. #goatpride!

  2. Writing is like bathing my children. If I want to find the time badly enough--I can do it ;)

    I hate to say it but...leave Blanche at home. It's important to take a cyber break sometimes.

  3. Jenny - You quit your job! OMG! I want to do that so badly, sometimes! Good for you :) and 20,000 words is nothing to scoff at, I bet your 20,000 was written much better than my 50,000!

    Bethany - one of the best days of my life was when I realized my son could shower BY HIMSELF! I don't have to do anything anymore, it's so wonderful! You're right, I will leave Blanche behind. She's just so pretty and shiny! :(

  4. Wait...Blanche is your laptop, right? Not that new, beefy gal down on cell block D?!

  5. I loved reading your "I can find time to write" part. Sometimes it all seems so impossible! It's a great reminder that you can ALWAYS find time if you want it enough.

  6. Blanche? You are my hero, you know that, right? HEE

    My fave line of all: nothing you write is a waste of time. It's that exact nugget of truth that got me through two years with an agent who kept shooting down my novels. I would just pick up, and move on to the next writing project, because I knew that SOMETHING would come out of writing those words, if nothing more than growth as a writer.

    I love you Mare! Have a beautiful holiday season, my dear. So proud of you for nailing NaNo! See you in the New Year. :) #goatsrule

  7. Hey Peggy! Yes. I am a firm believer that if you want something badly enough, you can find a way to make it happen. No matter what. The trick is letting go of the things you can't control (which can be very hard!) and focusing on the things you can control.

    Anita! I love your face. Miss your guts. I hope you are having a lovely holiday and I seriously CAN'T WAIT for splintered to come out! Can't they fast track it?!