Sunday, December 2, 2012

National Novel Writing Month: What I learned by losing

So after my big excitement over participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), I failed to achieve the required 50,000 words on my new novel by November 30. Pass the humble pie.

I could wallow, but in the spirit of being a glass-half-full kind of person, I'd like to share a few things that I learned through the experience:

(1) My internal editor is one stubborn mule. I have trouble shutting off my editor when I'm in the heat of writing a first draft. At first I was able to blast through my daily word count, but soon found myself back to my old tricks of scratching out, starting over,and second-guessing myself. I do much better when I can send the editor packing and let the writer write, even if it means a substantial rewrite later. 

(2) In the words of John Lennon, "Life is what happens when you're making other plans." The biggest distraction was that my earlier novel came back from the editor, laden with her edits, comments, and suggestions. At the outset, I'd intended to set that novel aside to work on in December, but when I actually had it in my hot little hands, the temptation proved too strong. I could not resist getting back to work on that first novel, neglecting my NaNo novel in the process.Around mid-month I also received some client a$$ignments that needed to take priority.

(3) Any progress is good progress. While that sounds disturbingly like "Every kid deserves a medal," it's true. Even though I didn't achieve the full 50,000 words, I've made a healthy start to a second novel and a road map of how to continue. I probably wouldn't have gotten even that far without the impetus of NaNoWriMo.

(4) I like having a daily word count goal. Sometimes I don't reach it. Sometimes I blast past it.  Either way, a daily word count goal gives an energizing level of challenge and structure to my writing day.

Even though it would have been wonderful to have written a complete novel in November, I got a lot of writing done. In the end, for a working writer, that's what counts.

If you participated in NaNoWriMo, how did it go?

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