Welcome to December; or, The Post-NaNoWriMo Hangover

(This posting originally appeared on The Melt-Ink Pot)

Wow, what a ride!

November was great. Despite a couple of days when I got almost nothing written — my worst day was something like 300 words — I still ended the month with over 75,000 official, duly-counted and verified words, and a third winner’s certificate to hang on my wall. (Which, I now realize, I completely forgot to buy a frame for when I was out shopping last night. Dang.) About 10,000 of that came from a single-day marathon session on the 29th. That surprised me. I didn’t know I had it in me, but the story was apparently in a hurry to get out.

For the most part, the words seemed to flow effortlessly from my brain to the screen. A little too effortlessly, in some cases; I know that much of what I’ve written this month is wordy and more than a little bloated. However, I’m forcing myself to finish the story before I go back and start trimming. Inner Editor is just going to have to sit on her hands for another month or so. (She hates that, she does…) It was a good feeling, though, to have the story practically telling itself.

So what did I learn last month?

  • Writing an average of 1,667 words per day doesn’t seem nearly as difficult as it did the first time I did NaNo in 2006. At no point did I fall behind the average pace for the month. So maybe that is something that improves with practice.
  • The resources available to authors today are astounding even compared to my first NaNo in 2006. Thanks to Google Street View, I took a virtual tour of Oxford and saw some of the same buildings my characters interact with. It helped me visualize my setting in a way I’ve never been able to do before.
  • Having supportive family members and friends is important. My Beloved Husband was behind me all the way (thanks, dear!), and many of my other friends, old and new, cheered me along as well. Thank you all!
  • It’s good to know that if I ever needed to write 10K in a day, I could, but I did pay the price for it in sore wrists and hands for the next three days. (Mmmm, nothing like the smell of BenGay in the morning!) If I ever do that again, I will dig out the wrist braces before I start, rather than after I finish.
  • I think I still have a lot to learn about pacing. I feel as though I’ve spent far too much time on the setup for this story, and wonder if the payoff will go by too quickly. But that’s what editing is for, and it’s not Inner Editor’s turn. Yet.
  • I’m also learning to spot when I’m telling and not showing, at least some of the time. I’ve already left myself notes in the manuscript that say things like, “Find a way to show that Adja is being stubborn, rather than telling us that she is”, and “Go back and illustrate this through examples.”

So overall, I think the experience helped me continue my growth as a writer, which means that it was worth doing. It also means I’ll probably do it again next year.

Most important of all, though, this year’s NaNo got me back into the habit of writing on a daily basis again. (Things kinda fell apart after I finished last year’s behemoth.) Ideas are flowing, plot bunnies are scampering madly through my brain, and all is well and happy with the world.

So for everyone reading this who completed a writing challenge last month, congratulations! For those who tried but did not reach their goals, also congratulations. At least you wrote something, and hopefully more than you would have otherwise. Either way, I hope the experience helped you learn more about the craft of writing.

(Oh, and for those who were wondering … yes, I did take a day off from writing the current WIP yesterday to write notes and sketch outlines for the rest of this book, plus books two and three of the trilogy. That was also very satisfying.)

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About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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