Lessons from NaNoWriMo

Today marks the last day of National Novel Writing Month, and while my final count of only 1545 words is a small fraction of the 50,000 I needed, I don’t consider participating a mistake.

I didn’t commit to participating until after it had already started.  I had done nothing to prepare and had no ideas about what I wanted to do.  I’d already been working and re-working a short story, but since goal of the contest was to write a full novel, I needed to come up with a new idea that I could get a full length novel from.  I was able to come up with a rough idea within a couple of days and started writing that first week.

I’ve had a few false-starts and the story’s details have shifted slightly, but the overall theme has stayed the same. This has given me some confidence that I can come up with a workable story idea on short notice, which isn’t something I thought I was capable of.

Besides building confidence, NaNoWriMo has helped me break a bad habit. I was finally able to get myself out of self-edit mode when writing.  I have always had a problem of writing and rewriting sections over and over again.  This slows down the writing process and leads to me over thinking what I’m doing.  The end result is usually frustration and deleting the file.

So while I don’t have a lot of words to show for my month, I do have the start of a good story, 3k words of background notes, and some better writing habits.  I’m pretty excited about the current story and intend to continue to working on it. I’m definitely planning to try NaNoWriMo next year, and hopefully with a bit more preparation I’ll get to 50,000 words. Having fewer great games released in October and November wouldn’t hurt either.

4 Comments

  1. LongascNo Gravatar says:

    Finding the right balance between re-writing and fiddling around to improve things forever is a good thing. I think you should try to get into the “flow”, and not think too much about it. 1545 is not too much, but it is for sure better than 15.000 words that are full of adjectives and descriptions of every minor detail. Just ask readers if they remember the eye color or certain other things about a character – or what they think the character should look like. The answers often have not much to do with what is written or not written. My favorite example is Siegfried and Hagen. In no source their hair colours or something like that are mentioned. But people always attribute Hagen dark or grey hair, and Siegfried gets fair hair attributed. Mean people then let students search for evidence to verify their claims. :>

  2. BrianNo Gravatar says:

    Turning off my self-edit and getting into the “flow” have definitely been some good skills to develop. I do have some tendencies to be overly descriptive still, but I usually catch those in the second draft. My biggest problem with not getting much done for this year’s contest was more from not making time every day to write. Lot’s of nights I just want to vegetate in front of the TV or play games on the PC. This fall has been especially bad for having good game releases.

  3. ScaryboosterNo Gravatar says:

    I haven’t looked at my NaNo since it closed. I haven’t finished it. I’m affraid it is horrible and my self editing is going to rip it up.

    Best thing I learned from NaNoWriMo this year is: It

    I never heard about it till this year. I’m looking forward to April when they do Script Frenzy 100 pages in 30 days of a screenplay

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