Friday, December 2, 2011

What I learned from NaNoWriMo

My #Fridayflash for the week is in a state that I don't like at the moment, so I'm going to see if I can fix it for next week. In it's place I thought I would muse about some of the things I learned while participating in this year's National Novel Writing Month.

First, I will say that I did not 'win.' I only managed about 30k words, foolishly thinking that when I visited my parents I would find a way to make enough time to get a good word count each day. Instead I ended up with 150 words for the whole 5 day visit. So lesson one would be that I'm not good at writing on the road.

But on a more positive aspect, I did find that NaNoWriMo is actually a pretty good exercise in getting your butt in the chair and writing. It helped me I think to really develop some good habits about sitting down to my keyboard when I get home from work and at least getting something down on the page. Now if I can keep that up, I'm going to be quite happy with myself. I mean, sure I didn't get all 50k words, but just 500 words a day gets you 3 novels each year. And for me, that only takes about 15min to half an hour.

Which brings me to my second point. I took a fair amount of time in October going over my novel's structure so that I had a solid plot, with solid characters, solid goals, and solid well everything. So when it came down to doing the actual writing, I got to pour words out of my head and into the story without having to worry about what was coming next, because the little note card on Scrivener told me what was coming next. I had never written anything with that solid a structure before, and let me tell you that it was a joy. Plus, with a detailed outline, I was able to go through it and revise it a couple times to make sure that the story as a whole worked without having to cut out entire scenes and chapters, rewriting them all over again. Instead it was cutting out a sentence here and there. Outlining rocks.

And finally, I used Scrivener to write my NaNoWriMo novel, which was pretty cool. I learned a lot about it and will be purchasing the full version when my trial eventually runs out. It has a lot of neat tools that let me organize the story better then when I just used my own note cards for instance. I liked having everything in one place and so easy to change. So for the $40 or whatever it's going to cost me (Windows version, not sure about the Mac one quite yet) I think it's quite worth it.

I may not have gotten to 50k words, but I think I won in my own little way.


FARfetched December 2, 2011 at 7:38 PM  

That you even tried means you did better than me. Actually, I'm in a semi-break where I'm still spitting out #FridayFlash pieces and mostly reading or doing non-writing author stuff.

Making headway, that's the key!

Jamie B December 2, 2011 at 8:22 PM  

Congrats on getting as far as you did! I didn't really plot mine out so I may have more editing work to do :( lol. Lesson learned for next time as you were saying.

John Wiswell December 3, 2011 at 8:16 AM  

I tend to write from skeletal outlines. It gives me enough structure, letting me know what has to come next, what I ought to build toward and what the present scene must accomplish, while leaving me the room to experiment and let the characters play. I've revised me entire carefully-structured skeleton based on things that emerged from the time on the page, but never undersold how important the skeleton was. You seem to be an even firmer plotter, but that might be the best lesson you take from this month-long game.

Helen December 3, 2011 at 10:07 PM  

I think it's great that your tried to do Nano, that's more than I did. The experience alone is good. Maybe next year I will be brave enough and schedule my time.

As for Scrivener, I have the mac version, I love it, although I don't know how to use all of it, but that's 'cause I'm technically challenged....

Icy Sedgwick December 5, 2011 at 10:53 AM  

You've written a bucketload so that's still a "win".

Also, let me know what you think of Scrivener. I'm still trying to decide if I should give it a go.

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